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UPDATE 1-White House says capital gains tax would hit 0.3% of taxpayers

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WASHINGTON, April 26 (Reuters) - President Joe Biden’s forthcoming capital gains tax hike proposal would affect only a 0.3% slice of U.S. taxpayers, a top economic aide said on Monday.

Biden is set this week to propose nearly doubling taxes on capital gains to 39.6% for people earning more than $1 million, Reuters has reported, in what would be the highest tax rate on investment gains since the 1920s.

The soon-to-be-announced tax hike will treat those investment gains as wages for top earners and applies only to about 500,000 households, according to Brian Deese, who runs Biden’s policy-writing National Economic Council.

“We need to do something about equalizing the taxation of work and wealth in this country,” Deese told reporters. “And that’s why the reforms that the president will lay out are focused on this top sliver of people.”

He said there is no evidence of a significant impact of those capital gains tax rates on long-term investment.

Still, wealth advisers have already started counseling clients on strategies to avoid being clobbered by the new levies, which would need to be approved by a closely divided Congress.

That political process and widespread business group opposition is widely expected to mean a lower tax rate than the White House initially proposes will ultimately be adopted.

Currently, people earning more than $200,000 pay a capital gains rate of about 23.8%, including the 3.8% net investment tax which helps fund the Affordable Care Act, known as Obamacare.

Under the new plan, wealthy Americans could face an overall federal capital gains tax rate of 43.4% including the Obamacare tax. For some Americans living in New York and California, their total capital gains tax rate could exceed 50% when state taxes are included, according to the Tax Foundation. (Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Trevor Hunnicutt; Editing by Chris Reese and Andrea Ricci)

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