November 7, 2019 - Douglas Myser

Warren sanders plan to tax rich. From 1982 to 2018 the share of U.S. wealth held by the 400 richest Americans is estimated to have grown from 1% to around 3.5% or probably around $3 trillion. According to Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, the University of California at Berkley economists who developed the estimate, that's in par because the wealthiest American families declare only a small portion of their  actual economic gains in any given year as income, while leaving the rest invested in stocks and other assets, to grow in value. Saez, 48, has been involved in a series of what are considered groundbreaking studies of U.S. income, inequality and economic mobility that involved both developing techniques to impute income based on holdings of wealth, extensive access to U.S. Internal Revenue records. Warren sanders plan to tax rich.

He and Zucman, 32, have collaborated on several papers on the topic since 2014, and recently published "The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes How to Make them pay". "The greatest injustice of the U.S.  IRS tax system today is its regressive at the very top: billionaires in the top 400 pay less than the middle class," the economists wrote in the September paper. Their work might have been little more than a provocative read on the economics circuit, had the ideas of a wealth tax not been picked up by the two progressive politicians now vying with former vice president Joe Biden for first place in the Democratic Party's nominating contest for the November 2020 presidential election.

Not only are Vermont senator Bernie Sanders and former Massachusetts senator Elizabeth Warren's wealth tax proposals remarkably similar, both proposals have been vetted by Saez and Zucman. Taxing wealth, not income, became a hot button topic during the Democratic Debate in Ohio on October 15th, with several of the other 10 candidates on the stage rejecting it as too radical. Warren and Sanders have pitched it as a solution to the U.S.'s social and economic woes.

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