June 29, 2019
On Monday, nineteen billionaires, including George Soros, Abigail Disney, and Chris Hughes, released a letter asking 2020 presidential candidates to support adding a wealth tax on the richest Americans.
The letter, which was first reported by the New York Times, read, “We are writing to call on all candidates for President, whether they are Republicans or Democrats, to support a moderate wealth tax on the fortunes of the richest one-tenth of the richest 1% of Americans – on us. The next dollar of new tax revenue should come from the most financially fortunate, not from middle-income and lower-income Americans.”
“America has a moral, ethical, and economic responsibility to tax our wealth more. A wealth tax could help address the climate crisis, improve the economy, improve health outcomes, fairly create opportunity, and strengthen our democratic freedoms.”
“Several candidates for President, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Representative Beto O’Rourke, are already supportive of the idea,” the letter continued. “The first specific candidate proposal, introduced by Senator Warren, would provide millions of families with a better shot at the American dream by taxing only 75,000 of the wealthiest families in the country. The proposal is straightforward: It puts in place a tax of 2 cents on the dollar on assets after a $50 million exemption and an additional tax of 1 cent on the dollar on assets over $1 billion. If you have $49.9 million or less you are not paying the tax. It is estimated to generate nearly $3 trillion in tax revenue over ten years.”
One of the signers of the letter, 35-year-old Liesel Pritzker Simmons, whose family is more than $33 billion, said, “We are part of the problem, so tax us.”
Simmons said that the signers “thought it was important for people who would be affected by a wealth tax to come out publicly and say we want this, this is OK, this leads toward the America we want to see.”
Some Democrats have argued that the wealth tax would be difficult to implement due to the difficulty of objectively assessing the value of wealth in artwork, jewels, and illiquid assets. Some have argued that taxing wealth is unconstitutional, as the federal government is only allowed to tax income and is prohibited from taxing property.
In response to those arguments, Simmons said, “If your main argument is that it’s going to be hard, that’s a lazy argument.” She added, “We can figure it out.”
– MK. II