One of the tax changes in the just-passed bill to avert the so-called fiscal cliff, writes Sheldon Richman, is a rise in the long-term capital gains tax for upper-income people (over $400,000 for single filers). During the George W. Bush years, the tax on capital gains (and dividends) dropped to 15 percent. Under the new law the tax will rise to 20 percent for those wealthier taxpayers. During the recent controversy over taxes, some people wondered why capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate than ordinary wages and salaries, the top rate on which is now 39.6 percent. Is this a favor to the rich or does the difference have a basis in sound economics?
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