Bernie Sanders unveils new wealth tax plan: 'Billionaires should not exist'

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders on Tuesday morning unveiled 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.

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The Democratic presidential candidate followed a similar model introduced in Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan -- who has made taxing the rich a pinnacle of her presidential campaign -- but took it a step further.

“There is no justice when three billionaires are able to own more wealth than the bottom half of the entire country,” Sanders said in a tweet.

Under the plan, the Sanders campaign said it would levy these taxes on married couples:

  • 1 percent on married couples with a net worth above $32 million (meaning a couple worth $32.5 million would pay $5,000 annually in taxes) 
  • 2 percent on those worth $50 million to $250 million
  • 3 percent on $250 million to $500 million
  • 4 percent on $500 million to $1 billion 
  • 5 percent on $1 billion to $2.5 billion 
  • 6 percent from $2.5 billion to $5 billion 
  • 7 percent from $5 billion to $10 billion 
  • 8 percent on wealth over $10 billion 
  • For individuals, all of the brackets would be cut in half

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By comparison, Warren proposed a 2 percent tax on individuals with a net worth above $50 million and a 3 percent tax on those with more than $1 billion in assets. Warren's campaign said the tax -- intended to combat rising income inequality -- would apply to less than 0.1 percent of the population, or roughly 75,000 families, while Sanders' campaign said his tax would impact 180,000 families.

Critics have questioned the legality of a wealth tax in the U.S. (Both Warren and Sanders came prepared for accusations that it might be unconstitutional, citing prominent legal academics saying their separate plans passed muster.)