McCain or Obama: Whose tax plan would save me the most money?

You mean other than Ron Paul and his support for the Flat Tax? (And we assume that you assume the Flat Tax would actually save you money, but that's another question for another column.)

Both major party presidential candidates have a tax plan in their campaign platform. John McCain and Barack Obama are promising tax cuts. Whether you get one, and how much it would be, depends on how much money you make.

The dividing line, according to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, seems to be $112,000. Those taxpayers who earn less than that do better with the Democratic plan, while those who make more are better off — from a strictly fiscal standpoint — with McCain.

McCain's tax plan is clearly the bigger cut overall. The Tax Policy Center estimates McCain's cuts would take $4 trillion away from government coffers, larger than the $1.6 trillion that government would lose in tax revenues over the next 10 years if the Bush tax cuts were extended from 2009 to 2018. (We're putting aside, for the time being, that McCain's plan would add to an already astounding national debt, unless it boosts the economy in the massive way the McCain campaign believes it will.)

The McCain tax plan would cut the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 25 percent, designed to create jobs by letting companies keep more of their profits. He would also allow more deductions for company technology and research expenses. McCain would reduce the estate tax and give larger child tax credits. He would phase out the alternative minimum tax, commonly called AMT, which is particularly tough on upper-middle-class families. Finally, he would ban Internet and new cell phone taxes.

Obama's plan is geared more to cuts for the lower and middle classes, offset by tax increases for those who earn more than $603,000 a year. Obama's tax policy gives a tax cut to every family making below $250,000; eliminates capital gains taxes for small businesses; gives families a $4,000 tax credit for each child in college; gives tax incentives for companies that create jobs in the U.S.; and tax credits to reduce the cost of health care.

So, let's go head-to-head with the McCain and Obama proposals, as calculated by the Tax Policy Center (via the Washington Post):

If you make less than $38,000 a year, McCain's plan gives you almost no tax cut, where Obama's plan gives you the biggest tax cuts, between 3.6 percent and 5.5 percent, or as much as an average $892 a year.

If your family income is $38,000-$66,000 a year, you would get an average $319 in tax savings under a McCain presidency, a 0.7 percent cut. With Obama: a $1,042 tax cut, or 2.4 percent lower.

If you make $66,000-$112,000 annually, McCain gives you back $1,009, a 1.4 percent cut. Obama: $1,290, a 1.8 percent cut.

If you make from $112,000-$160,000, you do better under the McCain plan, with savings of $2,614 vs. Obama's $2,204.

And finally, if you make more than $603,000 a year, going with McCain is a tax no-brainer. The GOP candidate gives you a 3 percent to 4 percent cut, as much as an average $200,000 decrease. Obama would raise taxes on your wealthy butt by as much as 11 percent. For some families who make more than $2.8 million a year, Obama would demand an extra $700,000 in taxes, on average.

Somehow, I sense your hearts aren't breaking for those who make more than $2.8 million a year.

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