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Title: A Wealth Tax Reality Check
Source: Econlib
URL Source: https://www.econlib.org/library/columns/y2023/mckenziewealthtax.html
Published: Jun 7, 2023
Author: Richard B. McKenzie
Post Date: 2023-06-07 19:48:59 by Charles_Byrd
Keywords: None
Views: 40

At every opportunity, President Joe Biden has pressed a central tenet of his social agenda: “Extremely wealthy Americans don’t pay their fair share of federal income taxes” (emphasis added). By Internal Revenue Service definitions of income, top income earners generally pay a far greater federal income-tax share than do lower income groups. Without saying so, the President has greatly expanded wealthy Americans’ income to include their considerable unrealized capital gains, dramatically lowering their income-tax rate, which he uses to advance his wealth-tax case. To initiate wealth taxation, Biden proposes a “minimum billionaires tax,” under which wealthy Americans will pay at least 20% of their “total income”—including unrealized capital gains—in federal income taxes.1 A sizable majority (59%) of diverse Americans2 also favored a wealth tax in 2022. Political support for a wealth tax appears to be built on two incorrect presumptions: First, wealthy Americans pay precious little income taxes (conventionally defined). Second, workers’ “income” and the wealthy’s “capital gains” are conceptually the same. As explained, given the economics of wealth accumulation, the wealthy (especially those self- made) should be celebrated, not denigrated, because of the resulting far greater gains provided non-wealthy Americans.

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