House of Representatives Votes to Tax AIG Executives’ Bonuses at 90%

The House just passed H.R. 1586, officially titled “To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients” (sponsored by Charlie Rangel [D-NY]), which taxes the bonuses of AIG executives.  The bill technically places a tax on any bonuses given by companies who received TARP (Troubled Asset Relief Program) money.

The following is the text of the legislation:

HR 1586 IH



1st Session

H. R. 1586

To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.


March 18, 2009

Mr. RANGEL (for himself, Mr. ISRAEL, Mr. PETERS, Mrs. MALONEY, Mr. STARK, Mr. LEVIN, Mr. LEWIS of Georgia, Mr. TANNER, Mr. POMEROY, Mr. THOMPSON of California, Mr. LARSON of Connecticut, Mr. BLUMENAUER, Mr. PASCRELL, Ms. BERKLEY, Mr. VAN HOLLEN, Mr. MEEK of Florida, Mr. DAVIS of Alabama, Mr. DAVIS of Illinois, Mr. ETHERIDGE, Ms. LINDA T. SANCHEZ of California, Mr. HIGGINS, Mr. YARMUTH, Mr. DINGELL, Mr. CONNOLLY of Virginia, Ms. FUDGE, Mr. LUJAN, Mr. MAFFEI, Mr. PERRIELLO, Mr. CARNEY, Ms. CASTOR of Florida, Ms. CLARKE, Mr. COHEN, Mr. ELLISON, Mr. HALL of New York, Mr. HARE, Mr. KLEIN of Florida, Mr. LOEBSACK, Ms. SCHAKOWSKY, Mr. SIRES, Mr. WELCH, Mr. WILSON of Ohio, Mr. WU, and Mr. HILL) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Ways and Means




To impose an additional tax on bonuses received from certain TARP recipients.

    Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


    (a) In General- In the case of an employee or former employee of a covered TARP recipient, the tax imposed by chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 for any taxable year shall not be less than the sum of–

 (1) the tax that would be determined under such chapter if the taxable income of the taxpayer for such taxable year were reduced (but not below zero) by the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year, plus

(2) 90 percent of the TARP bonus received by the taxpayer during such taxable year.

    (b) TARP Bonus- For purposes of this section–

(1) IN GENERAL- The term `TARP bonus’ means, with respect to any individual for any taxable year, the lesser of–

(A) the aggregate disqualified bonus payments received from covered TARP recipients during such taxable year, or

(B) the excess of–

(i) the adjusted gross income of the taxpayer for such taxable year, over

(ii) $250,000 ($125,000 in the case of a married individual filing a separate return).


(A) IN GENERAL- The term `disqualified bonus payment’ means any retention payment, incentive payment, or other bonus which is in addition to any amount payable to such individual for service performed by such individual at a regular hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, or similar periodic rate.

(B) EXCEPTIONS- Such term shall not include commissions, welfare or fringe benefits, or expense reimbursements.

(C) WAIVER OR RETURN OF PAYMENTS- Such term shall not include any amount if the employee irrevocably waives the employee’s entitlement to such payment, or the employee returns such payment to the employer, before the close of the taxable year in which such payment is due. The preceding sentence shall not apply if the employee receives any benefit from the employer in connection with the waiver or return of such payment.

(3) REIMBURSEMENT OF TAX TREATED AS TARP BONUS- Any reimbursement by a covered TARP recipient of the tax imposed under subsection (a) shall be treated as a disqualified bonus payment to the taxpayer liable for such tax.

    (c) Covered TARP Recipient- For purposes of this section–

(1) IN GENERAL- The term `covered TARP recipient’ means–

(A) any person who receives after December 31, 2007, capital infusions under the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 which, in the aggregate, exceed $5,000,000,000,

(B) the Federal National Mortgage Association and the Federal Home Loan Mortgage Corporation,

(C) any person who is a member of the same affiliated group (as defined in section 1504 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, determined without regard to paragraphs (2) and (3) of subsection (b)) as a person described in subparagraph (A) or (B), and

(D) any partnership if more than 50 percent of the capital or profits interests of such partnership are owned directly or indirectly by one or more persons described in subparagraph (A), (B), or (C).

 (2) EXCEPTION FOR TARP RECIPIENTS WHO REPAY ASSISTANCE- A person shall be treated as described in paragraph (1)(A) for any period only if–

(A) the excess of the aggregate amount of capital infusions described in paragraph (1)(A) with respect to such person over the amounts repaid by such person to the Federal Government with respect to such capital infusions, exceeds

(B) $5,000,000,000.

    (d) Other Definitions- Terms used in this section which are also used in the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 shall have the same meaning when used in this section as when used in such Code.
    (e) Coordination With Internal Revenue Code of 1986- Any increase in the tax imposed under chapter 1 of the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 by reason of subsection (a) shall not be treated as a tax imposed by such chapter for purposes of determining the amount of any credit under such chapter or for purposes of section 55 of such Code.
    (f) Regulations- The Secretary of the Treasury, or the Secretary’s delegate, shall prescribe such regulations or other guidance as may be necessary or appropriate to carry out the purposes of this section.
    (g) Effective Date- This section shall apply to disqualified bonus payments received after December 31, 2008, in taxable years ending after such date.

The bill passed 328 (243 Democrats, 85 Republicans)-93 (6 Democrats, 87 Republicans).

Personally, this bill is very troubling to me.  It’s debatable as to whether or not it’s Constitutional.  Some have said that it’s a bill of attainder (a bill that focuses on punishing 1 group of people).  Technically, it never names AIG as the focus of the bill, but that’s definitely the intent.

This bill is more legally binding than Representative Gary Peters’ bill (H.R. 1527) that would impose a 60% tax on bonuses paid to executives if “the ownership interest of the Federal Government” is at least 79%.  Basically that says that if the government owns at least 79% of a company’s stock, it can tax bonuses on that company’s executives at a rate of 60%.  The problem with that bill, which I talked about yesterday, is that the government technically doesn’t own AIG. 

Even if it is Constitutional, I find this a huge invasion of the business sector.  Two wrongs do not make a right.  It’s a complete twist of the American tax code, and it sets a VERY dangerous precedent.

I don’t think AIG executives should have received the bonuses, but that stipulation should have been placed in the original TARP legislation.

Now, that stipulation WAS in the original bill; however, when it went to the conference committee, the Democrats took out that provision.  The exact details of how that happened are still unknown, but Chris Dodd had said that he introduced an amendment at the request of the Obama administration.  When this actually gets sorted out, I’ll let you know what actually happened.

Regardless of how they were allowed to get the bonuses, they were, and taking the bonuses away like this is questionably constitutional, but in the least, a blatant perversion of the tax code.

Done Ranting,

Ranting Republican


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6 Responses to “House of Representatives Votes to Tax AIG Executives’ Bonuses at 90%”

  1. JOhn Davis Says:

    Wow, more political hooplah!


  2. Sean Says:

    I think this bill also sets a dangerous precedent as far as personal property goes… Unless I am grossly mistaken, once you have received monetary compensation for a good or service, that money becomes your personal property, to do with as you will, in a nutshell. And now, in another nutshell, we’ve got the government waltzing in and just taking it. It’s comparable to your work deciding that you were paid too much last year, so they’re going to harvest your bank account and get it back…

    In my opinion, AIG should never have been bailed out. The whole “too big to fail” thing is a poor argument, because as we have seen, it’s just going to keep on taking more and more and more taxpayer money to keep afloat. It’s like filling a leaky bathtub one bucket at a time, you can pour and pour and pour, but if you don’t bother to fix the holes, it’s eventually going to run empty. It just seems like every day, there’s another story or instance where another founding principle is being trod upon…

    Anyway, another fine article, always a great pleasure to read.

  3. Adam Says:

    Here is a big problem for me (and possibly many others). I have a good job, and I make $250k. My wife works for a tarp company, but had nothing to do with any wrong doing. Accorinding to my read of this legislation, our collective income over $250k will be taxed at 90% (bonus or not). In effect, my wife is work for free.

    Do anyone agree?

    If that is correct interpretation, she will have no choice but to leave here company. As will many other professionals. All of the TARP companies are at serious risk of mass exodus of employees – possibly leading to bank failures.

    I know this is called the AIG bonus tax, but Morgan Stanley, Goldman, JP Morgan, BofA, Citi, etc will all be affected.

  4. inkslwc Says:

    Adam, it’s my understanding of 1.(a)(2) that it would only be 90% for “bonuses.”

    1.(b)1(B)(2) defines “TARP bonus” as “the excess of $250,000,” meaning everything above $250,000 would be taxed at 90%.

  5. mmm Says:

    I am appalled at this legislation. This affects my husband’s bonus for this year, which was guaranteed to him LAST YEAR, before this economic debacle. He is in school part-time for his MBA, and works full time. His bonus was going to be used for school loans, mortgage, and saving for my daughter’s college fund. We will not be ‘living it up’ as many have assumed Wall Street bankers will be doing after receiving bonuses. We do not typically make $250,000. This year will be the first time we will get close. I think legislators should put their money where their mouth is and expand this bill to include THEIR salaries, per diem, and any other perks that we as taxpayers are paying for.

  6. inkslwc Says:

    mmm, certainly this can’t be true. Executives don’t save up for their daughter’s college funds! Executives at AIG are all rich selfish people trying to steal from taxpayers, and they certainly don’t care for ANYBODY other than themselves!

    Obviously, I’m joking, but the sad thing is that a lot of Americans share that sentiment. The problem with a blanket ban on bonuses is that it affects hard working people, like your husband–people depending on those bonuses.

    I’m glad you brought up the point that $250,000 really isn’t that much when you’ve got a mortgage, kids in college, and schooling for yourself.

    I wish you and your husband the best of luck. If the Senate passes this bill, I hope you guys can win when this is taken to the Supreme Court.

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