The U.S. presidential election is now just a couple of weeks away. A fresh round of voter polling has most analysts pointing to a “blue wave” setting up to crash over the House, Senate, and presidential contests.
This has one group particularly worried – S&P 500 company executives. Specifically, one key issue worries them more than any other: Biden’s tax plan.
You can read a detailed analysis of each candidate’s tax plan here from the nonpartisan Tax Foundation. But a recent survey of executives of S&P 500 companies is noteworthy. 62% of respondents indicate Biden’s proposed tax-rate increase on corporate incomes as their No. 1 concern going into the election.
That’s ahead of climate change, social justice, or national security. Compare that to President Trump’s tax plan, where only 39% of respondents indicated it was their top concern.
Biden’s proposed tax plan (which of course would need to go through Congress for approval) would increase the U.S. corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%.
Analysts have estimated that such an increase would cost companies $1.9 trillion over the next decade. It would also act as a headwind for stocks, reducing S&P stock values by as much as 8%, and reducing earnings per share by a whopping 12%, from $170 to $150. This would also lower dividend payouts.
The American Enterprise Institute (AEI) estimated that the Biden corporate tax plan would reduce worker wages and benefits over the next decade as companies absorb the big increase in tax rates. The AEI says the remaining cost of the tax plan would end up being passed on to consumers by way of higher costs of goods.
Biden’s tax plan in general is supposedly focused on raising taxes on the top 1% of wage earners. But that’s only when it comes to personal income taxes. After all, the higher taxes on high-income households will raise only just under $1 trillion over a 10-year period.
Given that Biden’s spending proposals for healthcare, environmental issues, student debt, and increased welfare spending are estimated to cost nearly $7 trillion, it’s no wonder he’s looking for ways to raise government revenues.
But even with higher corporate taxes and higher taxes on high-income earners, it’s still well short of where it needs to be to cover the proposed spending.
For their part, corporate executives are starting to hint that given the COVID-19 headwinds they already face, an additional 33% increase in tax costs would likely result in layoffs or wage restrictions for workers.
Most analysts agree Biden’s tax plan would end up slowing GDP growth and costing investors in terms of both stock values and dividend yields. But ultimately, it will cost consumers, who will end up paying more for goods and services.
That said, most Wall Street analysts also insist the market has already priced in a Biden win, even with the costs of a probable corporate tax increase.
We’ll see. What’s clear is if Biden wins, U.S. corporate growth will be slower, and investor returns likely lower than they would be otherwise. And that will likely be bad for both growth and income investors – at least in the short term.