News Release

“Plutocracy Prevention Act”

With Bernie Sanders’ announcement this week that he is running for President, the estate tax bill he recently introduced in Congress is getting more scrutiny.

CHUCK COLLINS, jessicah at ips-dc.org

Chuck Collins is a senior scholar at the Institute for Policy Studies and a longtime inequality activist. He said today: “We need bold intervention to break up growing dynasties of wealth and power. A century ago, Congress established the estate tax, paid only by a minuscule sliver of billionaires and multi-millionaires, to put a brake on the build-up of concentrated wealth and power.

“Under current estate tax law, someone with $15 million and $15 billion pay the same flat rate of 40 percent. Senator Bernie Sanders’ improved estate tax proposal restores the top rate that existed between 1941 and 1976, when the estate tax was more robust.

“Since estate tax rates were lowered in the late 1970s and 1980s — and more loopholes opened — new wealth dynasties have emerged. The three wealthiest families in the U.S. — the Waltons of Walmart, the Koch brothers, and the Mars family clan — together hold over $348 billion. Since 1983, their wealth has expanded an incredible 6,000 percent, adjusted for inflation.

“The Sanders legislation would put a substantial brake on the wealth and power of the country’s 588 billionaires who control over $3 trillion in wealth by establishing a much-needed graduated rate system, with the rate rising with the size of the fortune. For example, estates between $10 million and $50 million would pay a 50 percent rate. Estates in excess of $1 billion would pay a 77 percent rate on all wealth over that threshold.

“While his 99.8% Act would raise substantial revenue — potentially $2.2 trillion from this billionaire group alone — it would have the positive benefit of protecting our self-governing republic from the distorting influence of concentrated wealth.

“Sanders’ estate tax proposal is a plutocracy prevention act, squarely aimed at preventing the children of today’s billionaires from dominating our future democracy, economy, culture and philanthropy.”