President Biden, amping up a populist pitch in his re-election campaign, has repeatedly said he would raise taxes on the wealthy and corporations to make them pay their “fair share.”

Republicans say Mr. Biden has “an unquenchable thirst for taxing the American people.” His Republican opponent in the election, former President Donald J. Trump, said recently that Mr. Biden was “going to give you the greatest, biggest, ugliest tax hike in the history of our country.”

So it might come as a surprise that, in just over three years in office, Mr. Biden has cut taxes overall.

The math is straightforward. An analysis prepared for The New York Times by the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center, a Washington think tank that studies fiscal issues, shows that the tax cuts Mr. Biden has signed for individuals and corporations are larger than the tax increases he has imposed on big corporations and their shareholders.

The analysis estimates that the tax changes Mr. Biden has ushered into law will amount to a net cut of about $600 billion over four years and slightly more than that over a full decade.

“It’s reasonable to conclude from those numbers that the Biden tax policy hasn’t been some kind of radical tax-raising program,” said Benjamin R. Page, a senior fellow at the center and author of the analysis.

The analysis strictly looks at changes to taxes over the course of Mr. Biden’s presidency, including some direct benefits to people and businesses that flow through the tax code. It does not measure the effects of inflation or certain regulations, which Republicans sometimes label “tax hikes” since they can raise costs for companies and individuals.

It also does not measure the social or economic benefits of Mr. Biden’s spending policies, or of his regulatory efforts meant to help consumers, like cracking down on so-called junk fees and limiting the cost of insulin and other medication.

Instead, the analysis provides a comprehensive look at what Mr. Biden has done to the tax code, and how those policies add up.

It is clear by that measure that his record has not matched his own ambitions for taxing the rich and big companies — or Republicans’ attempts to caricature him as a tax-and-spend liberal.

That’s largely because Mr. Biden has struggled to pass his most ambitious tax-raising plans. “It’s what can be got through Congress and signed,” Mr. Page said. “They were subject to compromise.”

A White House spokesman, Michael Kikukawa, said in an email that Mr. Biden was “proud to have cut taxes for the middle class and working families while cracking down on wealthy tax cheats and making big corporations pay more of their fair share.”

The president’s enacted tax cuts include incentives for companies to manufacture and install solar panels, wind turbines and other technologies meant to reduce fossil fuel emissions, which are a centerpiece of the climate law he signed in 2022. That law also contained tax cuts for people who buy certain low-emission technologies, like electric vehicles and heat pumps.

Mr. Biden gave tax breaks to semiconductor factories as well, as part of a bipartisan advanced manufacturing bill he signed earlier that year.

The president also included temporary tax breaks for individuals and certain businesses. in his 2021 economic stimulus bill, the American Rescue Plan. The legislation expanded a tax credit for parents. It provided $1,400 direct checks for low- and middle-income Americans, which were technically advance payments on tax credits.

Mr. Biden has partly offset all of his tax cuts with a pair of major new levies. Corporations are now required to pay a tax when they buy back their own stock. Another tax requires large corporations to pay a minimum 15 percent federal income tax, even if they qualify for deductions that would have made them owe less.

The president has also directed tens of billions of dollars to the Internal Revenue Service to help crack down on high earners and corporations that evade paying the taxes they owe — an effort that will increase federal tax revenues but does not increase tax rates.

But the president has struggled to persuade Congress — including a sufficient number of Democrats, in the two years his party controlled the House and the Senate on his watch — to sign on to a fleet of other proposed tax increases.

Mr. Biden’s budget requests have been filled with ideas for taxing high earners and corporations. Those have failed to gain traction on Capitol Hill. His most recent budget includes about $5 trillion of tax increases spread over a decade, including longstanding Democratic plans like raising the corporate income tax rate to 28 percent from 21 percent.

Republicans assailed Mr. Biden for tax plans they say will cripple the economy. Representative Jodey C. Arrington, Republican of Texas and chairman of the Budget Committee, said in a hearing on Thursday that Mr. Biden believed “in more government and more spending and more taxing as the answers to the problems that our country faces.”

Mr. Biden has emphasized his tax proposals in recent weeks, including during his State of the Union address. The president has repeatedly said he would not raise taxes on people earning less than $400,000 a year, while calling on millionaires and billionaires to pay more.

He has also vaunted his tax record, as he did this week in Las Vegas. “In 2020, 55 of the largest Fortune 500 companies made $40 billion in profits,” Mr. Biden said. “They paid zero in federal taxes. Not anymore.”

Mr. Biden was referring to the corporate minimum tax created by the Inflation Reduction Act, the 2022 law that also included the climate-related tax incentives. The Treasury Department has struggled to implement that tax, which companies faced for the first time last year.

The department does not yet have data on how many corporations will pay the tax for 2023, officials said this week.


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Credit: NYTimes.com

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