While 8 million Americans slipped into poverty and half a million lives were lost to COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic, the wealth of U.S. billionaires doubled. Of that wealth, 1 in 5 dollars in their pockets ($818 billion) comes from the finance and investment sector.
In America today, the top 130,000 families hold nearly as much wealth as the bottom 117 million families combined. Yet despite their extreme wealth, we ask them to pay fewer taxes than working Americans. This is because we tax work at a higher rate than we do wealth. While families in the bottom 99% owed 7.2% of their wealth in federal, state, and local taxes in 2019, the top 0.1% owed just 3.2%.
This extreme wealth is the product of generations of white supremacy. Wall Street was created to increase and protect fortunes made from the buying and selling of enslaved Africans and the fruits of their labor like cotton. Fast forward to today, it’s not surprising that the 400 richest Americans are largely white, and they own more wealth than all Black households and a quarter of Latino households combined. Wall Street billionaires are no exception – of the 170 billionaires on Wall Street today, only 7 are women, and only 1 is Black.
Taxing wealth is an important step towards ending the racial wealth divide in America. By taxing the excessive wealth of ultra-wealthy billionaires, we begin to unrig the system that preserves and increases fortunes of the super rich. Requiring the super rich to pay their fair share allows us to invest in public goods like free college, green jobs, health care, and public transportation that benefit all of us, and help us move toward a more just economy.
Introduced in the 117th Congress, the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act of 2021 (H.R.1459 / S.510) would tax households with a net worth of $50 million or more— the wealthiest 100,000 households. It would bring in over 3 trillion in revenue over 10 years through:
- A 2% annual tax on the net worth of households and trusts between $50 million and $1 billion
- A 1% annual surtax (3% tax overall) on the net worth of households and trusts above $1 billion
“Over half of Americans see a wealth tax as a way to help solve inequality, poll finds” By Juliana Kaplan, Business Insider, Apr 19, 2021
“Elizabeth Warren Says Wealth Tax Could Help Pay for Infrastructure, Health” By Erik Wasson, Bloomberg News, March 1, 2021
“Time for the Warren-Jayapal Wealth Tax” By Chuck Collins, Inequality.org, March 1 2021