Wealth Taxes Are a Dying Breed

For those curious to learn more about wealth taxes, Brad DeLong recommends a primer written a few months ago over at Equitable Growth. It’s a good introduction, but in the end the most important takeaway is probably this:

Most countries have given up on wealth taxes because the game wasn’t worth the candle. There are lots of intricacies to a wealth tax, and in the end it amounted to only about 1 percent of total tax revenues in most countries (with Switzerland as a bit of an outlier). In the United States, total tax receipts for all levels of government come to roughly $5 trillion, so 1 percent would amount to $50 billion per year.

In round numbers, you could get the same amount of revenue by creating a new tax bracket at $1 million and increasing the top tax rate from 39 percent to 42 percent. There may be advantages to a wealth tax even if it raises the same amount as a millionaire-bracket income tax, but on the other hand the increased income tax is very simple, very well-understood, hits pretty much the same people, and is unquestionably constitutional. Given all that, a wealth tax would probably need to have some pretty convincing benefits to be worth the effort of creating it.

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THE TRUTH...

is the first thing despots go after. An unwavering commitment to it is probably what draws you to Mother Jones' journalism. And as we're seeing in the US and the world around, authoritarians seek to poison the discourse and the way we relate to each other because they can't stand people coming together around a shared sense of the truth—it's a huge threat to them.

Which is also a pretty great way to describe Mother Jones' mission: People coming together around the truth to hold power accountable.

And right now, we need to raise about $400,000 from our online readers over the next two months to hit our annual goal and make good on that mission. Read more about the information war we find ourselves in and how people-powered, independent reporting can and must rise to the challenge—and please support our team's truth-telling journalism with a donation if you can right now.

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