Taxes Paid By Billionaires Decreased 79 Percent Since 1980, as Percentage of Their Wealth

As we emerge from this pandemic, substantial tax increases are inevitable. Central to the program should be a tax that limits the hoarding of wealth by the billionaire class.

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[Note to BfAZ readers: This post by my IPS colleague, Chuck Collins, and me, which will be cross-posted at Inequality.org, is an intro to a briefing paper I just completed, making the case for a wealth tax. I invite you to click through to the briefing paper itself.]

Conventional economic wisdom says a time of crisis is not the moment to enact tax increases. But, as Eric Toder at the Tax Policy Center recently pointed out: “[Tax experts] can begin to think of the time after the pandemic passes and how government should respond to massive increases in the public debt, and the new tax increases that Congress will need to enact to fund them.”

Initial tax increases should hold harmless working- and middle-class families who will be the most economically vulnerable coming out the pandemic. The first several trillion in new revenue should come from America’s wealthiest households, those who have seen their taxes slashed over past decades.

At the top of the list of new tax increases should be a wealth tax on our billionaire class.

A new Institute for Policy Studies Inequality briefing paper, authored by Bob Lord, reveals that between 1980 and 2018, the taxes paid by America’s billionaires, when measured as a percentage of their wealth, decreased a staggering 79 percent.