News Release

Tax Billionaires to Pay for Pandemic Recovery

CHUCK COLLINS, chuck@ips-dc.org; also via Bob Keener, bobk@ips-dc.org@inequalityorg

Collins just wrote the piece “We should tax billionaires’ wealth to help pay for pandemic recovery” for MarketWatch. He writes: “This week, Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, an annual wealth tax on households with more than $50 million. Lead sponsors in the House are Democratic Reps. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania.

“’The ultrarich and powerful have rigged the rules in their favor so much that the top 0.1 percent pay a lower effective tax rate than the bottom 99 percent, and billionaire wealth is 40 percent higher than before the COVID crisis began,’ Warren explained.

“Around two-thirds of Americans, including majorities of both Democrats and Republicans, said they supported a wealth tax in a January survey. ‘A wealth tax is popular among voters on both sides for good reason: because they understand the system is rigged to benefit the wealthy and large corporations,’ Warren said.

“Under the Warren-Jayapal-Boyle bill, the richest 100,000 Americans would be subject to an annual tax of a few pennies on the dollar on their great fortunes.

“The tax rate would be just 2 cents on the dollar, or 2 percent, for people with wealth between $50 million and $1 billion. It would rise to just 3 cents on the dollar, or 3 percent, for wealth above the $1 billion threshold.

“Only the country’s 650 or so billionaires would pay the 3 percent rate.

“It makes sense to tax billionaires to pay for the immediate-term pandemic recovery, as well as for longer-term investments in infrastructure, health care, and education. As hundreds of thousands of Americans lost their lives, and millions lost their livelihoods, U.S. billionaires have seen their combined wealth increase $1.3 trillion over the last 11 months, an increase of 45 percent.

“U.S. billionaires now have a combined wealth of $4.2 trillion. That’s nearly double the wealth owned by the bottom half of all U.S. households — 165 million people combined — who collectively own just $2.4 trillion, according to the Federal Reserve.”

Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he co-edits Inequality.org. His new book is The Wealth Hoarders: How Billionaires Pay Millions to Hide Trillions.