Cain's Tweaked Tax Plan Raises Taxes For The Poor

GOP presidential contender Herman Cain, who has made his reputation with his 9-9-9 tax plan, introduced the variant 9-0-9 plan for the poor, who would be exempt from the income portion of the plan. Experts said the poor, who pay little if any federal tax now, would still see a tax hike.

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ROBERT SIEGEL, HOST:

Republican presidential candidate Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan has taken a lot of heat recently. Several independent analysts have found that under the plan, poor and middle-class families will pay higher taxes. And what's more, they say, the richest will see a substantial tax cut. Well, today in Detroit, Cain unveiled his response.

NPR's Tamara Keith reports.

TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Cain's 9-9-9 plan would scrap the current tax code and replace it with a 9 percent business tax, a 9 percent income tax, and a 9 percent national sales tax.

HERMAN CAIN: Nine-nine-nine means jobs, jobs, jobs.

KEITH: Cain stood before a giant, abandoned building - a symbol of urban blight and decay - to roll out the details of his plan to help distressed inner cities and poor people. For the poor, income taxes would be zeroed out.

CAIN: If you're at or below the poverty level, your plan isn't 9-9-9. It's 9-0-9. Say amen, y'all.

UNIDENTIFIED GROUP: Amen.

CAIN: Nine-zero-nine.

KEITH: Roberton Williams, with the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, says even with this change, the lowest-income Americans would see their tax bills rise because the business tax would trickle down to them and...

ROBERTON WILLIAMS: You would still have the sales tax, 9 percent on every dollar people spend. And for poor families, that's a deal-breaker.

KEITH: For cities, Cain introduced the concept of opportunity zones - areas where there would be special tax advantages to encourage businesses to hire. It's unclear whether the plan would generate enough tax revenue after these changes, though Cain insists it remains revenue neutral.

Tamara Keith, NPR News.

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