Bernie Sanders to propose significant wealth tax expansion

Sen. Bernie Sanders proposed a plan on Thursday to dramatically expand the federal estate tax on the wealthy, including a 77 percent tax rate on billionaires’ estates.

Sanders’ bill -- dubbed “For the 99.8% Act” -- would tax the estates of the 0.2 percent of Americans who inherit more than $3.5 million. If passed, it would also establish a 45 percent tax on the value of an estate between $3.5 million and $10 million and a 50 percent tax on the value of an estate between $10 million and $50 million. It’s estimated to generate about $2.2 trillion from the 588 billionaires in the country.

The Vermont independent, who is currently eyeing a potential 2020 presidential bid as a Democrat, said it would not affect the remainder of the country.

"Our bill does what the American people want by substantially increasing the estate tax on the wealthiest families in this country and dramatically reducing wealth inequality,” Sanders said in a statement. “From a moral, economic, and political perspective our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little."

The bill would also close tax loopholes that allow wealthy families to pass their fortunes to the next generation without paying a tax on it.

Sanders’ bill follows similar pushes by fellow progressives, including Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y. and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass. (who announced her presidential candidacy in January). Last week, Warren announced a plan to raise taxes on the country’s wealthiest residents, which she said would apply to “ultra-millionaires”, or those with more than $50 million in assets.

A recent Fox News Poll revealed that a majority of respondents (51 percent) favored spending more on domestic programs over cutting taxes and reducing spending -- and their preferred method of financing those projects is through taxing the wealthy. Roughly 70 percent of voters favored raising taxes on those making more than $10 million each year.

Meanwhile, three republicans senators this week unveiled a plan to entirely repeal the estate tax, according to The Washington Post.


"At a time of massive wealth and income inequality, when the three richest Americans own more wealth than 160 million Americans, it is literally beyond belief that the Republican leadership wants to provide hundreds of billions of dollars in tax breaks to the top 0.2 percent," Sanders said.