Oct 23, 2021 - Politics & Policy

Senate Democrats target billionaires

Illustration of people with coins on their head.

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

After failing to get a deal on other planned tax increases, key Senate Democrats are pivoting to a billionaires' income tax to pay for President Biden's social spending.

The big picture: No advanced economy has attempted anything similar on such a scale.

  • The approach could face constitutional challenges and logistical ones.

The details: Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) next week will unveil a tax on the unrealized capital gains of the ultra-wealthy, Bloomberg reports:

  • "The proposal ... would set the so-called billionaires' income tax at $1 billion in annual income, or three consecutive years of $100 million or more in income — hitting some 700 taxpayers."

Between the lines: The Washington Post points out this approach "would shield not only the lower and middle classes but also exempt the bulk of the top 1 percent — concentrating the higher rates instead on the wealthiest 0.0002 percent."

The intrigue: Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.), a member of the Finance Committee, was saying all week that senators should slow down.

  • "There's a reason why you only do tax policy in a major way every few years — it's really complicated," Warner told Axios.
  • "My fear is if we're going to try some innovative new ideas and if we don't have time to develop them ... we could mess some of this up."
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