Democrats have been proposing ways to fund its $1.75 trillion dollar Build Back Better social net bill, otherwise known as the budget reconciliation bill. Last Tuesday, Senate Democrats presented a solution to help offset some of the expense—a novel tax upon billionaires.
This proposed measure “would impose a 15 percent minimum tax rate on corporations based on the profits they report to their shareholders, not what they show to the Internal Revenue Service…For the first time, billionaires would face a tax on the unrealized gains” in assets like stocks, bonds and cash, which, today, can be borrowed off to live virtually free of income taxes, the New York Times reports.
This bill has been touted by The Guardian as “one of the most ambitious and transformative domestic policy agendas since the Great Society of the 1960s or the New Deal of the 1930s.” It would address housing, education, healthcare, and housing social programs and policies which, along with the infrastructure bill, are considered to be the cornerstones of President Biden’s agenda.
Some have spoken out against this proposition to tax the rich (largely the very rich), decrying it as too much of an overreach and a slippery slope. But in reality, this tax would only be applicable to “roughly 700 of the wealthiest people in the U.S.”
Chuck Marr, Director of federal tax policy at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, took to a Twitter thread to explain his support of the proposal calling it “Econ 101 meets Accounting 101….Each year, Mr. [Jeff] Bezos makes a salary of around $80,000 and over the period 2010-208, for example, his unrealized (or accrued) capital gains from his Amazon stock holdings were over $10 billion a year on average…Currently, under this simplified example, if Mr. Bezos does not sell any of his Amazon shares in a given year, the income tax ignores the $10 billion gain, and effectively he is taxed like a middle-class person making $80,000 a year.”
Democrats aren’t just worried about the other side of the aisle, as some members of their own party are against it, like conservative Democrat, Senator Joe Manchin (D-WV). Some tax law experts are in disagreement over whether this would be constitutional, making it risky given the conservative bent of the Supreme Court.
However when it comes to popular opinion, the majority of Americans are on record as being in favor of a tax on the rich. Last month, a Morning Consult/Politico poll found that “68 percent of registered voters said they support raising taxes on the wealthiest people.”