What If We Actually Taxed The Rich?

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What if We Actually Taxed the Rich?

Income and wealth are now more concentrated at the top than at any time over the last 80 years, and our unjust tax system is a big reason why. The tax code is rigged for the rich, enabling a handful of wealthy individuals to exert undue influence over our economy and democracy. 

Conservatives fret about budget deficits. Well, then, to pay for what the nation needs – ending poverty, universal health care, infrastructure, reversing climate change, investing in communities, and so much more – the super-wealthy have to pay their fair share. 


Here are seven necessary ways to tax the rich.

First: Repeal the Trump tax cuts.

It’s no secret Trump’s giant tax cut was a giant giveaway to the rich. 65 percent of its benefits go to the richest fifth, 83 percent to the richest 1 percent over a decade. In 2018, for the first time on record, the 400 richest Americans paid a lower effective tax rate than the bottom half. Repealing the Trump tax cut’s benefits to the wealthy and big corporations, as Joe Biden has proposed, will raise an estimated $500 billion over a decade.

Second: Raise the tax rate on those at the top. 

In the 1950s, the highest tax rate on the richest Americans was over 90 percent. Even after tax deductions and credits, they still paid over 40 percent. But since then, tax rates have dropped dramatically. Today, after Trump’s tax cut, the richest Americans pay less than 26 percent, including deductions and credits. And this rate applies only to dollars earned in excess of $523,601. Raising the marginal tax rate by just one percent on the richest Americans would bring in an estimated $123 billion over 10 years. 

Third: A wealth tax on the super-wealthy.

Wealth is even more unequal than income. The richest 0.1% of Americans have almost as much wealth as the bottom 90 percent put together. Just during the pandemic, America’s billionaires added $1.3 trillion to their collective wealth. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed wealth tax would charge 2 percent on wealth over $50 million and 3 percent on wealth over $1 billion. It would only apply to about 75,000 U.S. households, fewer than 0.1% of taxpayers. Under it, Jeff Bezos would owe $5.7 billion out of his $185 billion fortune – less than half what he made in one day last year. The wealth tax would raise $2.75 trillion over a decade, enough to pay for universal childcare and free public college with plenty left over.

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