Sanders wants tax penalties for companies where CEOs are paid 50 times more than average workers

Under proposal Walmart would pay $854 million more in taxes

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., on Wednesday introduced legislation to apply tax penalties on companies that pay their CEOs at least 50 times more than the median worker.

Democratic Massachusetts Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Ed Markey, as well as Democratic Maryland Sen. Chris Van Hollen and Democratic House members Rep. Barbara Lee of California and Rep. Rashida Tlaib of Michigan also introduced the legislation called the Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act on Wednesday.

"The American people understand that today we are moving toward an oligarchic form of society where the very rich are doing phenomenally well, and working families are struggling in a way that we have not seen since the Great Depression," Sanders said in a statement.

He continued: "At a time of massive income and wealth inequality, the American people are demanding that large, profitable corporations pay their fair share of taxes and treat their employees with the dignity and respect they deserve. That is what this legislation will begin to do."

Tax penalties for companies with CEO-to-worker pay ratios of 50 to 1 would start at 0.5 percentage points and increase with wider ratios under the Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act.

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For example, the bill would require Walmart, which paid CEO John Furner more than 900 times its median worker in 2019, to pay up to $854.9 million more in taxes. It would also require Home Depot to pay up to $550.8 million more in taxes and JPMorganChase to pay up to $172.8 million more in taxes, according to a press release.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
WMT WALMART, INC. 140.64 +0.47 +0.34%
HD THE HOME DEPOT, INC. 328.40 +5.88 +1.82%
JPM JPMORGAN CHASE & CO. 153.30 +1.14 +0.75%

Over 10 years, the legislation would raise $150 billion.

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"Corporate executives have padded their pockets with hefty paychecks and over-the-top compensation packages, while American workers, who helped generate record corporate profits, have hardly seen their wages budge," Warren, a staunch Wall Street critics, said in a statement.

She added that U.S. lawmakers must "take dramatic steps to address wealth inequality in this country," adding that "discouraging massive executive payouts is a good place to start."

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The Tax Excessive CEO Pay Act has the full backing of The Squad, a group of four progressive Democratic congresswomen including Tlabi, Ayanna Pressley of Massachusetts, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez of New York and Ilhan Omar of Minnesota.

Sanders in February tried and failed to pass a $15/hour national minimum wage as a provision in President Biden's $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief package but said he would keep trying to pass the legislation.