PBS News Hour showed a video of Donald Trump making this false claim below without any correction. This is an example one of the reasons that Trump is doing so well.
Politifact - At a recent rally in Richmond, Va., Donald Trump called Bernie Sanders the c-word — "communist" — and suggested that Sanders’ plans for wealth redistribution extends beyond targeting Trump and other billionaires.
Under Sanders, Trump said, tax hikes would come for everyone.
"This maniac that was standing on (Hillary Clinton’s) right is giving everything away, so she’s following," Trump said on Oct. 14, referring to the Democratic debate the night before. "He’s gonna tax you people at 90 percent. He’s gonna take everything. And nobody's heard the term communist, but you know what? I’d call him a socialist/communist, okay? ‘Cause that's what he is."
Sanders hasn’t released a tax plan yet, and we searched Lexis Nexis and CQ and found that Sanders has never explicitly proposed a 90 percent tax rate for billionaires, let alone applying that rate across the board.
We asked the Trump campaign how the GOP frontrunner knew what Sanders is proposing, but we didn’t hear back. However, he may be distorting comments Sanders made in May 2015 about the marginal tax rate for the very wealthy.
Early in his campaign, Sanders drew alarm when he said in an interview with CNBC that he doesn’t think a top marginal tax rate of 90 percent is too high.
Briefly, the marginal tax rate is applied to the last dollar you earn. The U.S. tax system is based on tax brackets. Let’s say you were a single filer who earned $410,000 in adjusted gross income last year. The first $9,075 you earned was taxed at 10 percent, the amount from $9,076 to $36,900 was taxed at 15 percent, the amount from $36,901 to $89,350 was taxed at 25 percent, the amount from $89,351 to $186,350 was taxed at 28 percent, the amount from $186,351 to $405,100 was taxed at 33 percent, the amount from $405,101 to $406,750 was taxed at 35 percent, and the amount above $406,751 was taxed at 39.6 percent.
In other words, the current top marginal tax rate is 39.6 percent, affecting individuals who make more than $400,000 a year. That’s roughly the threshold to make it into the top 1 percent of incomes if you’re filing as an individual. And even for this sample filer making $410,000, that 39.6 percent tax rate hits only a relatively small amount of their income. The average American never sees marginal federal income tax rates that high.
"If my memory is correct, when radical socialist Dwight D. Eisenhower was president, the highest marginal tax rate was something like 90 percent," Sanders said on May 26 (his memory is correct). "That's not 90 percent of your income, you know? That's the marginal."
Many on the right and left interpreted Sander’ comments as advocating for increasing the top rate to 90 percent. The Sanders camp, however, told us the Vermont senator has made it very clear that that’s not what he was saying.