Sen. Elizabeth Warren is once again going after the wealthiest Americans with her proposal for an Ultra-Millionaire (two cent) tax. So, basically it’s Thursday.
During an interview with CNBC, Warren was asked how to contend with the fact that wealthy Americans would allegedly leave the country if they were taxed at the higher rate that she proposes. The anchor who questioned Warren seemed to suggest that the Massachusetts senator's tax proposal would lead to national economic collapse as the wealthiest Americans fled for tax havens. Of course, Warren wasn’t having any of it.
“There is no evidence that anyone is going to leave this country because of a two-cent wealth tax,” Warren asserted. “Can we just keep in mind right now in America who is paying taxes?” The senator explained that 99% of Americans paid roughly 7% of their total wealth in taxes in 2020. On the other hand, she said, the top one-tenth of the 1% paid only 3.2% of their total wealth in taxes. “If they added a two-cent wealth tax, they’d still be paying less than most of the people in this entire nation,” Warren argued.
Warren’s two-cent tax is pretty straightforward. Families with a net worth of more than $50 million would pay a 2% tax on every dollar of their net worth above $50 million, which comes out to a whopping two cents on every dollar. And the handful of billionaires across the country would pay a 6% tax for every dollar above $1 billion.
“Look, someone has to pay to keep this nation going,” said Warren, and according to her, it’s time for the wealthy to start doing exactly that. “What they want to do is not only keep their wealth, they want to keep building their wealth faster than anyone else. All I’m saying is, can we have just a little fairness here?”
The senator’s proposed wealth tax couldn’t come at a better time. As we approach 11 months of the coronavirus pandemic, millions of Americans have lost their jobs, with many people facing evictions and food insecurity. While the working class struggles to make ends meet with little financial assistance from the federal government, American billionaires have collectively become $1.1 trillion wealthier. They can probably afford a two-cent tax.
Moreover, wealthy Americans won't likely be leaving the country anytime soon, because it’s not actually as simple as just leaving the country. People trying to evade a two-cent tax would also have to renounce their citizenship to skip out on paying them.
"You're telling me that they would forfeit their American citizenship if they had" to pay a little bit more in taxes, said Warren. "I'm just calling your bluff on that." And she's not wrong to do so. Wealthy Americans have threatened to leave the country before when faced with proposed wealth taxes. But most of them didn't actually follow through.
Warren’s interview comes as we are in the middle of a wild time on Wall Street, thanks to the GameStop controversy, which has served as a reminder that wealthy investors get really upset once it turns out ordinary people have also figured out how to game the system, too. But so upset they might leave the country? Probably not.