Independent Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed an expansion of the estate tax on Thursday – which he says will primarily affect some of the country’s wealthiest people, like Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and billionaire investor Warren Buffett.
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An estate tax is levied on assets – like real estate and cash – when a person dies.
Republicans raised the estate tax exemption under the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act to $11.18 million, meaning assets valued up to that amount can be transferred without triggering the 40 percent tax. Members of the party have advocated for eliminating the estate tax altogether.
Sanders, meanwhile, proposed expanding the rate to 77 percent for those passing on assets in excess of $1 billion.
Under his plan, the first $3.5 million worth of assets would be exempted, after which a 45 percent rate would be triggered. For those with assets worth between $10 million and $50 million the rate would rise to 50 percent – and to 55 percent for an estate valued between $50 million and $1 billion.
The tax plan also includes measures to end “tax breaks for dynasty trusts” and close other loopholes that might allow wealthy taxpayers to evade the payment.
Sanders said his bill, dubbed the “For the 99.8% Act,” would only affect to the richest 0.2 percent of Americans.
Here’s how much some of the country’s richest business leaders could owe in maximum estate tax liabilities, according to Sanders’ estimates:
Jeff Bezos, Amazon CEO:
Net worth: $131.9 billion
Under current law: $52.75 billion
Sanders’ proposal: $101.34 billion
Bill Gates, Microsoft founder
Net worth: $95.8 billion
Under current law: $38.31 billion
Sanders’ proposal: $73.54 billion
Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO
Net worth: $83.2 billion
Under current law: $33.27 billion
Sanders’ proposal: $63.84 billion
Larry Ellison, Oracle co-founder
Net worth: $60.2 billion
Under current law: $24.07 billion
Sanders’ proposal: $46.13 billion
Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO
Net worth: $53.9 billion
Under current law: $21.55 billion
Sanders’ proposal: $41.28 billion
Elon Musk, Tesla CEO
Net worth: $20.8 billion
Under current law: $8.31 billion
Sanders’ proposal: $15.79 billion