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VERIFY: Bernie Sanders didn't propose a 52% tax rate on incomes over $29,000

A viral meme is misrepresenting Senator Bernie Sanders' tax plan to help pay for Medicare-for-all.

A viral meme shared by actor James Woods claims that Americans who would benefit from a minimum wage hike proposed by Senator Bernie Sanders would actually take home less money because of a 52% tax on their income.

The meme, which hinges on the claim that everyone making over $29,000 would be taxed at a rate of 52%, argues that an American would actually make the equivalent of $7.20 an hour after taxes.

So VERIFY decided to investigate what is and isn't being proposed with this tax rate and Medicare-for-all. 

THE QUESTION

Is the Bernie Sanders tax plan really 52% for anyone making over $29,000 a year?

THE ANSWER

No, Sanders has never suggested that. He has previously suggested a 52% tax rate, but only on income over $10 million.

WHAT WE FOUND

There are no records of Bernie Sanders saying that he wants to put a 52% tax rate on families making more than $29,000 to fund his Medicare-for-All plan. This includes the most recent debate, which NBC has provided a full transcript of.

In a Sanders campaign document proposing funding for Medicare-for-All, a 52% tax rate is mentioned for income above $10 million. That’s part of his proposed progressive income tax rate that increases for higher income brackets. For example, income between $250,000 and $500,000 is taxed at a 40% rate in his proposal.

The $29,000 figure doesn’t come out of nowhere. That same campaign document also proposes a four percent income-based premium on households. The document states, “Because of the standard deduction, families of four making less than $29,000 a year would not pay this premium.”

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So, what the Sanders campaign proposes is that families making $29,000 or more pay a four percent annual premium on healthcare, which can be reduced by the standard tax deduction. The Sanders campaign estimates that a family making $50,000 would pay $844 a year to this premium.

Basically, the only similarity the 52% tax rate and $29,000 figures have is that they are both included in a document outlining Sanders’ proposals to pay for Medicare-for-All. This hypothetical 52% tax rate would only apply to families making $10 million or more, not to families making $29,000 or more.

Sanders doesn’t say what exactly his tax rate would be for Americans making $29,000 a year--his plans on his website specifically talk about his tax rates for wealthier people--but it’s important to note that the United States already has separate tax brackets.

According to multiple debt help and tax help websites, a person or family making $29,000 a year currently has a tax rate of 12%. However, a person making $300,000 a year--an income that would be taxed by 40% in Sanders’ proposal listed above--is currently taxed at a rate of 35%. The highest tax bracket in the United States currently is a rate of 37% on income over $510,301 for a single filer.

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