A new wealth tax demanded by US mega-rich

America has a moral, ethical and economic responsibility to tax our wealth more,” says an Open Letter to the 2020 Presidential Candidates: It’s Time to Tax Us More. It was published on 24 June 2019 by some of US’s richest people urging US presidential candidates to support a wealth tax on them, US billionaires. Among more than 15 signatories are names like investor and philanthropist George Soros, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, Disney heiress Abigail Disney and Liesel Pritzker Simmons, a descendant of the owners of the Hyatt hotel chain.

The open letter reads: “The top 1/10 of 1% of US households now have almost as much wealth as all Americans in the bottom 90%. The top 1/10 of 1% are projected to pay 3.2% of their wealth in taxes this year, while the bottom 99% of households are projected to pay 7.2%. This imbalance creates resentment and makes it harder for working-class Americans to achieve social mobility. Taxing extraordinary wealth should be a greater priority than taxing hard work. The most fortunate should contribute more. Instituting a wealth tax is in the interest of our republic.”

According to Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), the US is the sixth highest country in the world in terms of wealth concentration. Thus, taxing the super-rich “would slow the growing concentration of wealth that undermines the stability and integrity of our republic,” the Open letter said and added: “Today, major policies seldom come to pass without the prior support of wealthy elites or other wealthy interests. Division and dissatisfaction are exacerbated by inequality, leading to higher levels of distrust in democratic institutions and worse.”

The group said they were non-partisan and not endorsing any political party. However, they praised Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax idea that would raise taxes on those with more than $50m, a measure that would affect the 75,000 wealthiest families. She estimated that it would generate nearly $3 trillion over next 10 years.

The letter pointed out that fellow billionaire Warren Buffett has said that he is taxed at a lower rate than his secretary.

Essentially, the signatories hope their letter will prompt a group momentum as evidenced, for instance, already by the Swiss-born US-based billionaire Hansjoerg Wyss adding his name to the letter, and the property and insurance magnate Eli Broad endorsing it and writing his support.

Full list of signatories:

Louise J. Bowditch, Robert S. Bowditch, Abigail Disney, Sean Eldridge, Stephen R. English, Agnes Gund, Catherine Gund, Nick Hanauer, Arnold Hiatt, Chris Hughes, Molly Munger, Regan Pritzker, Justin Rosenstein, Stephen M. Silberstein, Ian T. Simmons, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Alexander Soros, George Soros, Hansjörg Wyss, and Anonymous.

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