Where They Stand: Republicans Offer Broad Range of Tax Reform Proposals

Jan 27, 2016

It's a rare presidential candidate who tries to use tax policy to win voters' hearts.

But fiscal policy -- and tax reform in particular -- is an issue with the potential to have a real effect on voters’ finances, in their personal budgets or their businesses’ earnings. 

It also has the potential to vastly reshape the nation’s finances at large.  

While Republican presidential candidates seem to uniformly agree that the current tax system is flawed and taxes are too high, no two candidates have quite the same prescription for change.

For the most part, the candidates fall into one of three camps: the tinkerers, the renovators and the demolition crew.

In the first group are candidates like Donald Trump, Jeb Bush, John Kasich, Chris Christie and Marco Rubio. They would restructure some parts of the tax code — lowering rates, swapping out some credits and deductions — but would still work within the basic system already in place.

In the second camp are those who've put forward plans for some kind of flat tax: Ted Cruz, Rand Paul, Rick Santorum and Ben Carson. Instead of setting different tax rates for different income levels, these plans would basically ask everyone to pay the same portion of their income.

And then in the third camp you have Mike Huckabee and Carly Fiorina, who would overhaul things even more. Huckabee is pitching a model that would replace the existing tax system with a national sales tax. Fiorina has complained that the current tax code is too long and complex for the average person to understand, so she's talked about cutting the whole thing down to just three pages. But she hasn't gone into detail about what that shorter tax code would include.

As part of NHPR's Where They Stand series, here’s a summary of the basic provisions of the tax proposals put forward by the candidates so far.

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