The pandemic has been good for the ultra rich like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos whose fortunes are tied to the stock market.
Yet many of these billionaires pay little in taxes, and that has sparked a big push by progressives for a “wealth tax.”
Recently, Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR), the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, introduced a version of that. Wyden calls it a “billionaires tax,” targeting the ultra rich as a way to help pay for President Biden’s agenda.
It didn’t get far. Barely a day after he proposed the plan, it was cut from the bill.
Tax experts were not surprised. As it turns out, taxing billionaires is incredibly difficult, and a wealth tax would be even harder to pull off.
Here are a few reasons why (and why Wyden’s proposal has failed to gain traction).
A lot. Over the last 12 months, as many Americans struggled, U.S. billionaires such as Jeff Bezos saw their aggregate net worth surge by more than $1.2 trillion, according to Bloomberg News.
Their total wealth is around $5 trillion, or roughly the size of Japan’s entire economy and almost two times the size of India’s.
“What’s happened during the pandemic is that the wealthiest of the wealthy seem to be reaping a huge percentage of the rewards,” says journalist Ben Steverman, who helps compile the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.