Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg: they are billionaires. Their names often make headlines, including on this website, as the businesses they create or run have a profound effect on daily life and on national and global economies. Even though these first two men come and go to boast of the title of the richest man in the world, they don’t pay a lot of taxes. This is because most of their wealth is tied to stocks and bonds rather than annual income. When Tesla’s stock price skyrockets, Musk overtakes Bezos in the rich rankings, at least until Amazon stock puts Bezos back in the lead. That system would change if the billionaire income tax plan drafted by Oregon Senator Ron Wyden passed through Congress.
“There are two tax codes in America,” Wyden said in a statement. “The first is mandatory for workers who pay taxes on every paycheck. The second is voluntary for billionaires who delay paying taxes for years or even indefinitely. “
Under the current structure, they pay no tax on the value of stocks and bonds until they sell them and those profits become realized gains, and the maximum tax rate is 20%. Wyden’s proposal would ensure that taxpayers earning more than $ 100 million in annual income or those who hold $ 1 billion in assets for three years pay the 23.8% surplus rate on earnings in stocks and bonds, even if they are not sold.
“The billionaire income tax would ensure that billionaires pay taxes every year, just like American workers,” Wyden said in a statement. “We have a historic opportunity with the Billionaire Income Tax to restore fairness to our tax code and fund vital investments in American families. “
Unsurprisingly, billionaires don’t want to do this. “Eventually they run out of other people’s money and then they come for you,” tweeted Musk, whose companies have received about $ 5 billion in federal aid over the years on Monday.
Taxing unrealized gains on America’s top 10 billionaires would bring in around $ 275 billion, of which nearly $ 100 billion was for Musk and Bezos alone, with plenty of leftover for them. But the prospect of passing the billionaire income tax seems dim.
“I don’t like the connotation that we’re targeting different people. There are people who have fundamentally contributed to society, they have created a lot of jobs, invested a lot of money and give a lot to philanthropic activities, ”West Virginia Senator Joe Manchin said on Wednesday shortly after. the publication of the Wyden plan. .
“But it’s about time we all got together and rowed together,” he added, slamming the door a little.