Elizabeth Warren on a Wealth Tax

By now, Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts is known for being the candidate ready with a plan. But back in January, she was just getting her campaign started. And one of her very first proposals was to impose a wealth tax.

  • When the United States government wants to raise money from individuals, it taxes what people earn — the income they receive from work or investments. But Ms. Warren wants the government to also tax the accumulated wealth — think stocks, real estate and retirement funds — held by the very richest Americans.

  • Specifically, the new annual tax would target the 75,000 wealthiest families in the United States and levy an additional surtax on billionaires.

  • It is expected to generate $2.75 trillion in revenue over a 10-year period — money that could help pay for expanded social programs.



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  • One of the central arguments Ms. Warren makes to voters is that the economy is tilted against the middle class and in favor of the wealthy. She argues that fundamental change is needed on behalf of working people.

  • Her proposed wealth tax gets at this problem directly through a substantial rethinking of the federal government’s approach to taxation.

  • Figuring out a person’s total net worth can be difficult. And implementing a wealth tax would create big new challenges for the I.R.S. in ensuring compliance.

  • An income tax is clearly authorized by the 16th Amendment. But the legality of a wealth tax is likely to raise constitutional questions.

  • Well-funded opponents of the tax would be nearly certain to wage a legal battle against it.

Source: NYT

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