Wealth Tax: what's fair? here’s 15 ideas

“Wealth Tax” aka, a “taxing the rich” is presently being considered in the USA as a path to generating government revenue and — more importantly — as a reform policy to lessen the widening gap between billionaire elites and the working class / sinking middle class. A recent poll claims 56% of the American public sees this as a remedy to combat the increasing inequality.

“Wealth Tax” isn’t a simple, agreed-upon equation. There are multiple versions of it, and, of course, many experts who oppose entirely any suggestion of the proposal.

Below I list fifteen opinions, throughout history, ranging from NO! NO! NO! to YES — EMPTY THEIR POCKETS.

Let me know which policy or policies you prefer, in Reply or Comments.

Joe Lonsdale, Cicero Institute: The Wealth Tax is a Terrible Idea…It’s bad for the innovation economy, doesn’t work in practice, and is fundamentally un-American… Wealth Taxes Disincentivize Investment… Wealth Taxes Drive Away Foreign Investment

Sir Angus Deaton, Princeton University professor & 2015 Nobel Prize winner in Economic Science: Wealth tax would be “very difficult to implement” and give the wealthy “huge incentives to avoid it — and avoid it they will.”

David L. Bahnsen, Commentary Magazine: “The rationale for a wealth tax is wrong because the tax code is already highly progressive… Confiscating wealth from wealthy people satisfies a class-warfare agenda, but it takes productive capital and makes it nonproductive capital — the most misguided notion in all of economics…”

Ancient Greece: A tax of ten talents was imposed annually from 347–323 BC (and in other eras) in Athens, on the wealthiest 4%.

Rashidun Caliphate: In the early years of Islam, chronicles of the reign by Caliph Umar bin al-Khattab (634–643AD) and Omar bin Abdul Aziz (718–720AD) “suggest poverty was eradicated” due to collection of the Zakat — a 2.5% levy that every Muslim that met the “minimum wealth criteria (known as the nisab)” was required to pay.

Elizabeth Warren, US Senator: Seeks an ultra-millionaire tax on the top 0.05% of American households (75,000 families), i.e., a wealth tax of 2% on those with assets above $50 million and 6% above $1 billion. She would also require an “exit fee” of 40% on wealthy who left the country. Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman believe this plan would collect 4% of annual US tax revenues.

Bernie Sanders, US Senator: Wants annual tax of 1% on top 0.1 percent of U.S. households, anyone with over $32 million, increasing to 2% for $50 — $250 million; 3% for $250 — $500 million; 4% for $500 million 0 $1 billion, 5% for $1 — $2.5 billion, 6% for $2.5 to $5 billion, 7% from $5 — $10 billion, and 8% on $10+ billion. Rich single people pay approximately half.

Huey Long, US Senator 1932–1935: The “Kingfish” aka “Karl Marx of the Hillbillies” wanted a progressive wealth tax on fortunes over $1 million (approximately $19.6 million today) and cap fortunes at $5 — $8 million (approximately $98 million — $156 million today).

Green Party New Zealand: Proposes 1% wealth tax on all assets above $1 million ($718,000 US).

Spain: The wealth tax is progressive, starting at 0.2% and going up to 3.75% — starting at $784,000 (rates vary in different autonomous regions).

France: Enacts a real estate wealth tax on residents with property valued at or above $1.571 million. The tax rate is progressive, going as high as 1.5%.

South Africa: A January 2021 study proposed wealth tax on the most affluent 1% of the population, starting at 3% and going up to 7%. The top rate would apply to people with a net worth of above R146.89 million. South Africa is one of the world’s most economically unequal nations.

Argentina: In December, 2020, a one-time wealth tax of 3% was extracted from the 12,000 citizens with more than $2.3 million in assets. The tax was 5% on assets held abroad.

India: Two political parties (Socialist Party and Bahujan Samaj Party — representing lower castes and religious minorities) called for wealth tax of 2% on fortunes above 25 million rupees ($334,000 US). This would effect 0.1% of the population, about 10 million people.

Hank Pellissier (author of this article): My proposal lies between Bernie Sanders and Huey Long, with a borrowing from Elizabeth Warren. I suggest 10% for $20 — $100 million; 20% for $100 — $200 million, 30% for $200–300 million, 40% for 300 — $400 million; and 50% for over $400 million.

Crucial — to prevent billionaires from abandoning their citizenship and departing in droves — is the installment of a 60% “exit tax.” Without this, they might head to Singapore like Facebook co-founder Eduardo Saverin or to Russia, like French actor Gerard Depardieu.