18 of the richest people in America have sent a letter to all the candidates for the 2020 Democratic presidential nomination, demanding that their election platform include a annual wealth tax on the largest American fortunes, something advocated by economist Thomas Piketty in his blockbuster book Capital in the 21st Century and subsequently integrated into Elizabeth Warren's campaign platform (with Piketty's endorsement).
The letter's signatories include a few super-rich people who amassed their own fortunes (like George Soros and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes), but many of the remaining signatories are heirs to vast wealth that they did nothing to earn, including Disney heiress Abigail Disney (who has been admirably public on the subject already) and Molly Munger (daughter of Bershire Hathaway chairman and Warren Buffet mentor Charlie Munger). One signatory chose to remain anonymous.
Polls show that a moderate tax on the wealthiest Americans enjoys the support of a majority of Americans — Republicans, Independents, and Democrats.[i] We hope that candidates for President will also recognize the force of the idea and join with most Americans in supporting it. Some ideas are too important for America to be part of only a few candidates’ platforms.
The concept of a wealth tax isn’t new: Millions of middle-income Americans already pay a wealth tax each year in the form of property taxes on their primary form of wealth — their home. The kind of moderate tax on the richest 1/10 of 1% that we support just asks us to pay a small wealth tax on the primary source of our wealth as well.
Several candidates for President, including Senator Elizabeth Warren, Mayor Pete Buttigieg, and Representative Beto O’Rourke, are already supportive of the idea. The first specific candidate proposal, introduced by Senator Warren, would provide millions of families with a better shot at the American dream by taxing only 75,000 of the wealthiest families in the country.[ii] The proposal is straightforward: It puts in place a tax of 2 cents on the dollar on assets after a $50 million exemption and an additional tax of 1 cent on the dollar on assets over $1 billion. If you have $49.9 million or less you are not paying the tax. It is estimated to generate nearly $3 trillion in tax revenue over ten years.[iii][iv]
An Open Letter to the 2020 Presidential Candidates: It’s Time to Tax Us More [Louise J. Bowditch, Robert S. Bowditch, Abigail Disney, Sean Eldridge, Stephen R. English, Agnes Gund, Catherine Gund, Nick Hanauer, Arnold Hiatt, Chris Hughes, Molly Munger, Regan Pritzker, Justin Rosenstein, Stephen M. Silberstein, Ian T. Simmons, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Alexander Soros, George Soros, and Anonymous/Pay It Forward: Letter for a Wealth Tax]