Rick Santorum's tax plan

@CNNMoney January 5, 2012: 9:29 AM ET
Rick Santorum's tax plan

Former Sen. Rick Santorum's narrow loss in Iowa has raised his stature as a serious contender in the GOP race for the White House.

NEW YORK (CNNMoney) -- Presidential candidate Rick Santorum's proposals to change taxes haven't drawn much attention yet. But that is likely to change now that his standing in the Republican field has risen.

The former conservative senator from Pennsylvania would reduce the number of income tax brackets from six to two (10% and 28%) and triple what his campaign identifies as the personal deduction that parents can claim for their children.

Santorum would also eliminate the so-called marriage penalty, which often causes two-earner couples to owe more in federal income taxes than if they filed as single individuals. (Read: The millionaire tax)

In addition, he would eliminate both the Alternative Minimum Tax and the estate tax. And he would reduce the capital gains rate from 15% to 12%.

For businesses, he would cut the corporate income tax rate in half to 17.5% and eliminate it entirely for manufacturers. Plus, he would increase the research and development credit and reduce the tax burden on U.S. companies that choose to bring back their overseas profits to the United States.

Generally speaking, Santorum proposes to simplify the tax code.

But at the same time he proposes to keep on the books many of the largest and most popular deductions, such as those for health insurance, retirement savings and mortgage interest.

Newt Gingrich's 'mind boggling' tax plan

And he would continue the long-lived tradition of treating industries differently in the eyes of the tax code. "The plan would still tax different forms of business income differently," the Tax Foundation noted in its preliminary assessment of the plan.

Santorum also emphasizes his desire to use the tax code to support the family -- which he calls the "first economy."

There's been no formal third-party analysis of Santorum's plan so far. But his proposal to boost tax breaks for families may run counter to at least one oft-stated Republican beef: the number of households that end up having no federal income tax liability because of all the tax breaks they're entitled to.

"Interestingly, by using tax expenditures to support these families, Santorum would likely add significantly to the number of households that pay no income tax," wrote Urban Institute resident fellow Howard Gleckman in the blog TaxVox.

What's more, Gleckman noted, "because [Santorum's plan] cuts rates significantly but does not eliminate tax preferences -- and even expands a few -- it would very likely add trillions of dollars to the federal deficit."

The Santorum campaign did not respond to CNNMoney's requests for comment. To top of page

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