Trump floats eliminating U.S. income tax and replacing it with tariffs on imports

Republican presidential candidate, former U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during his campaign rally at Sunset Park on June 09, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. 

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Donald Trump on Thursday brought up the idea of imposing an “all tariff policy” that would ultimately enable the U.S. to get rid of the income tax, sources in a private meeting with the Republican presidential candidate told CNBC.

Trump, in the meeting with GOP lawmakers at the Capitol Hill Club in Washington, D.C., also talked about using tariffs to leverage negotiating power over bad actors, according to another source in the room.

The remarks show Trump, who championed tariffs as a foreign policy multi-tool during his first term in office, is considering a drastically more protectionist trade agenda if he defeats President Joe Biden in November.

Spokespeople for Trump’s campaign did not immediately respond to CNBC’s requests for comment. Trump in a Truth Social post later Thursday morning said there was “lots discussed, all positive” in the meeting, without providing any more details.

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Trump’s remark about replacing income taxes with tariffs quickly drew critics.

“Broadly substituting tariffs for income tax is a sure way to hit hard low and middle income Americans and reward top,” New York University School of Law professor David Kamin wrote on X.

Washington Post op-ed columnist Catherine Rampell noted that since tens of millions of Americans who pay no federal income taxes would presumably fall under Trump’s tariff plan, “this sounds like a huge tax increase on the lower/middle income classes.”

Trump’s swing through Capitol Hill to meet with Republican lawmakers and business leaders marked his first return to the area since Jan. 6, 2021, when the then president urged his supporters to march to the U.S. Capitol to protest his 2020 loss to Biden.

Trump was later impeached in the House for inciting the violent mob that stormed the Capitol and temporarily halted the peaceful transfer of presidential power.

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