Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

New Study Shows How Taxing Rich Saves Lives, While Trump's Tax Plan... Kills

Study found that candidate Trump's plan would result in nearly 30,000 added deaths per year from all causes, while a plan put forth by Bernie Sanders would actually save 31,302 lives annually

Andrea Germanos

"The take-home message from this study is that policies that both substantially raise federal income tax rates and redistribute tax revenue appear needed if we want to see big reductions in the total numbers of Americans that die each year." (Image: Ring of Fire)

A new study looking at potential health impacts of tax proposals suggests the current Republican proposal in Congress being backed by President Donald Trump is exactly the opposite of what is needed if lawmakers want a policy that can reduce the total number of Americans that die each year.

"The take-home message from this study is that policies that both substantially raise federal income tax rates and redistribute tax revenue appear needed if we want to see big reductions in the total numbers of Americans that die each year. Current tax proposals through the House and Senate fall well short of these top rates and do not include redistribution." —Prof. Daniel KimGiven GOP tax proposals making their way through Congress, professor Daniel Kim, who studies public health at both Northeastern University and Paris Descartes University in France, says that "it is critical that policymakers consider the potential public health implications of these tax reforms."

For the study, published Monday in the journal Preventive Medicine, Kim compared current law with tax proposals put forth by then-candidates for the 2016 presidential election Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump. He also looked at a modified Sanders plan that includes a higher marginal tax rate of 75 percent for those with incomes above $500,000—a rate that is "not without precedent," Kim writes, noting the time periods 1964 to 1981 and 1944 to 1963. He also looked at a modified Sanders plan that combined the higher tax rate with redistribution of revenue from the highest three tax brackets to households with after-tax incomes of less than $40,000.

"The take-home message from this study," said Kim, "is that policies that both substantially raise federal income tax rates and redistribute tax revenue appear needed if we want to see big reductions in the total numbers of Americans that die each year. Current tax proposals through the House and Senate fall well short of these top rates and do not include redistribution."

An important note, Kim writes, is that there appear to be "broad similarities" between candidate Trump's proposal and the current House and Senate versions.

Using tax records from the Internal Revenue Service and available research on income and inequality associations with mortality, Kim projected that the Trump plan would increase inequality and lead to an increase of 29,689 deaths per year from all causes. The Sanders plan, meanwhile, decreased inequality and was projected to decrease the number of deaths from all causes by 31,302 annually.

The two modified versions of Sanders' plan brought far greater decreases in the number of deaths per year. The plan modified with a higher top tax rate was projected to lead to a decrease of 68,919 deaths per year from all causes, while the plan that also included redistribution of resources would result in a decrease of 333,504 deaths per year from all causes, with 188,799 of those lives saved as a result of the lowering of income inequality and 144,705 as a result of the increase in absolute income.

"At this critical time of tax reform," noted Kim, "widening gaps between the rich and poor, and growing public support for higher taxes and redistribution to combat inequality, policymakers should consider joint federal tax and redistributive policies to reduce the burden of mortality among Americans."

Kim's article is entitled "Projected impacts of federal tax policy proposals on mortality burden in the United States: A microsimulation analysis".


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

Groups Blast Biden for 'Siding With Billionaires Over Rail Workers'

As criticism of the president's position mounts, some members of Congress are speaking out in support of including at least seven days of paid sick leave in any measure they pass.

Jessica Corbett ·


'A Very Good Day for Our Republic' as Key Jan. 6 Insurrectionist Convicted of Seditious Conspiracy

"Now the only remaining question is how much higher did those plans go, and who else might be held criminally responsible," said one former federal prosecutor after Stewart Rhodes, founder of the Oath Keepers militia, was found guilty.

Brett Wilkins ·


Australian Report Advises 'Urgent Action' to Combat Slavery in Clean Energy Supply Chains

"We need to see industry, government, the financial sector, and civil society working together to provide access to competitively costed, slavery-free renewable energy."

Brett Wilkins ·


Progressives Mobilize in Georgia for Dec. 6 Senate Runoff

Advocacy groups backing Sen. Raphael Warnock call the Democrat a "reproductive rights champion" who is also "fighting to stop the climate crisis and create good jobs in the process."

Jessica Corbett ·


Senate Report Details Failure to Confront 'Persistent and Lethal' Threat of White Supremacists

"The federal government has continued to allocate resources disproportionately aligned to international terrorist threats over domestic terrorist threats," the report reads.

Julia Conley ·

Common Dreams Logo