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

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...

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.”

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.