Updated Sep 24, 2019 - Politics & Policy

Scoop: Bernie Sanders one-ups Warren with his own wealth tax


Photo: Joshua Lott/Getty Images

Sen. Bernie Sanders has released a wealth tax that's even more aggressive than Sen. Elizabeth Warren's "ultra-millionaire tax." Axios first reported Sanders' proposal.

Why it matters: Sanders keeps trying to remind voters that he's the original when it comes to progressive policy in the 2020 field, but he's being eclipsed at every turn by the surging Warren. The Vermont senator has proposed massive spending — $16 trillion on climate alone — and so has to show a little revenue to add credibility to his proposals.

Details: A wealth tax is applied not to what people earn but what they own, including stocks and land.

  • The Sanders campaign said it would apply taxes on households with net worths above $32 million and raise an estimated $4.35 trillion over the next 10 years, which would be used to fund Sanders' affordable housing, universal child care and Medicare for All plans.
  • Warren's plan, which applies to households with a net worth over $50 million, proposes an annual 2% tax on assets above a taxpayer's first $50 million, and 3% on assets that exceed $1 billion.

Yes, but: Both candidates may be unable to even attempt to impose their wealth tax plans if the Supreme Court strikes it down.

  • Both proposals revive an aspect of constitutional law that stems from the Constitution’s ban of direct taxes.
  • The Supreme Court in 1895 ruled that a wealth tax is a direct tax and is unconstitutional, but the American Bar Association has argued that a tax on the wealthy is constitutional.

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