Bernie Sanders, an independent senator from Vermont, has published a new opinion piece in the Huffington Post addressing the need for increased estate taxes for the wealthiest Americans. Sanders believes that new estate tax laws are needed to reduce income inequality in the United States, and he cites a number of statistics to support his cause, such as the fact that the top one percent owns about 37 percent of our nation’s total wealth, while the bottom 60 percent owns only 1.7 percent. In addition to wealth disparity, Sanders points out that income gains have unevenly benefited the already affluent, with 95 percent of all gains going to the top 1 percent since 2008.
Greater estate taxes on the rich, Sanders argues, would not only reduce wealth inequality, but lower the national debt and raise money for investments in infrastructure and education. His proposal includes a tax rate of 40 percent for estates worth over 3.5 million, 50 percent for estates worth more than $10 million and less than $50 million, and 55 percent for estates worth more than $50 million. Additionally, there would be a billionaire’s surtax of 10 percent, which would be applicable to the less than 500 American families whose combined wealth totals over $2 trillion. The first $3.5 million of an individual’s estate would be exempt from taxes, meaning that 99.7 percent of Americans would not have to pay an estate tax.