Sanders wants to raise taxes on companies that have large pay gaps between CEOs, employees

Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders released a plan targeting high corporate executive pay on Monday as he continues to trail rivals Elizabeth Warren and Joe Biden in the polls.

His "Income Inequality Tax Plan" would impose tax rate increases on companies with CEO to median worker ratios above 50 to 1.

"The American people are sick and tired of corporate CEOs who now make 300 times more than their average employees, while they give themselves huge bonuses and cut back on the healthcare and pension benefits of their employees," Sanders said in a statement.

From left: Jamie Dimon, JPMorgan Chase Chairman, Doug Parker , American Airlines Group CEO, Craig Menear, chief executive officer of Home Depot Inc., and McDonald's CEO Stephen Easterbrook, McDonald's CEO (AP/Getty Images)

The Vermont senator's tax would apply to all private and publicly held corporations with annual revenue of more than $100 million.

The larger the CEO-to-median-worker compensation ratio, the higher the corporate tax penalty for corporations. For example, if a company's top executive makes between 50 and 100 times more than the median worker, its corporate tax penalty is 0.5 of a percentage point. If the ratio is more than 500, the tax penalty ratchets up to 5 percentage points.

Had the plan been instituted in 2018, McDonald’s would have paid up to $110.9 million more in taxes, JPMorganChase would have paid up to $991.6 million more in taxes, Home Depot would have paid up to $538.2 million more in taxes, and American Airlines would have paid up to $18.8 million more in taxes, the Sanders campaign said.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
MCD MCDONALD'S CORP. 271.99 +1.01 +0.37%
JPM JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. 185.80 +4.66 +2.57%
HD THE HOME DEPOT INC. 335.36 +2.47 +0.74%

"If companies increased annual median worker pay to just $60,000 and reduced their CEO compensation to $3 million they would not owe any additional taxes under this plan," the Sanders campaign said.

Sanders estimates the tax will raise $150 billion in 10 years, which would be used to eliminate medical debt.

Earlier in September, Sanders released a sweeping plan to tax the wealth of the richest Americans, including one that he said would slash the wealth of billionaires in the U.S.