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Here's how much tax Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg would pay under Warren's proposed wealth tax

Here's how much tax Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg would pay under Warren's proposed wealth tax
  • US billionaires would have paid $114 billion in 2020 under Warren's proposed wealth tax, research suggests.
  • The 15 richest Americans would contribute about a third of the "ultra-millionaire" tax, two tax groups said.
  • The groups calculated how much tax Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg would pay under the plan.

US billionaires would have paid $114 billion between them in 2020 under an "ultra-millionaire" tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts on Monday, according to two tax groups.

The bill, called the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, would apply an annual 2% tax on individuals with net worths between $50 million and $1 billion. Individuals worth more than $1 billion would pay an annual 3% tax if the bill becomes law.

Warren said the tax would only affect about 100,000 American families - and that the country's billionaires would pay about half of the total tax amount.

The nation's roughly 650 billionaires have a collective wealth of more than $4.2 trillion, Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) and the Institute for Policy Studies Project on Inequality (IPS) said, basing their calculations on Forbes data. Their fortunes have increased by around 44% since March 2020, when the pandemic lockdowns in the US started, the groups said.

Based on their wealth at the end of 2020, over a decade the wealth tax on billionaires alone would fund about three-quarters of President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package, the ATF and IPS said.

And about a third of the wealth tax would be paid by the 15 richest Americans, who combined have a fortune of more than $2.1 billion, the groups said.

A separate analysis by the University of California Berkeley, cited by Warren, estimated that the tax would generate $3 trillion in revenue over 10 years.

Warren proposed that the new federal money would be invested in programs such as child care, education, and infrastructure.

Here's what Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg - the nation's four richest people at the end of 2020, based on data from Forbes - would have paid in 2020 under the wealth tax proposal, according to the ATF and IPS' calculations.

Jeff Bezos - $5.7 billion

Jeff Bezos - $5.7 billion
Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos. Alex Wong/Getty Images

Departing Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos would have paid $5.7 billion in wealth taxes for 2020, the ATF and IPS said. At the end of 2020, he had a fortune of $191.2 billion, per data from Forbes.

Washington legislators have also proposed a 1% tax on the state's billionaires. Bezos would pay almost $2 billion a year under this tax.

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Elon Musk - $4.6 billion

Elon Musk - $4.6 billion
Tesla CEO Elon Musk. Maja Hitij/Getty Images

Elon Musk, the tech billionaire behind Tesla, SpaceX, Neuralink, and the Boring Company, would have paid $4.6 billion 2020 under Warren's proposal, the ATF and IPS said.

At the end of 2020, Musk's real-time worth was $153.5 billion ,after his wealth increased more than six-fold in 10 months, per Forbes data.

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Bill Gates - $3.6 billion

Bill Gates - $3.6 billion
Microsoft cofounder and former CEO Bill Gates. Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images

Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who had a fortune of $120 billion by December 2020, per Forbes, would have paid $3.6 billion in wealth taxes for the year, the ATF and IPS said.

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Mark Zuckerberg - $3 billion

Mark Zuckerberg - $3 billion
Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg. The Asahi Shimbun via Getty Images

Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg would have paid around $3 billion in wealth taxes for 2020, the ATF and IPS said. As the end of 2020, he was worth $99.9 billion, according to Forbes.

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Momentum for a wealth tax has grown during the pandemic

Momentum for a wealth tax has grown during the pandemic
Argentina became the first country to respond to the pandemic with a one-off "millionaire tax." Natacha Pisarenko/AP

An Oxfam report found billionaires' wealth increased by $3.9 trillion between March and December 2020 globally. The increase for the world's 10 richest billionaires could pay for everyone to get vaccinated and stay out of poverty, Oxfam said. In the second half of 2020, meanwhile, 8 million Americans fell into poverty.

Wealth taxes could be a good option to reverse this, Oxfam said. In December, academics published a study of 50 years of tax cuts for the wealthy which suggested "trickle-down" economics makes inequality worse and doesn't lead to economic growth and employment.

"Skyrocketing billionaire wealth in the midst of a health and economic crisis weighing down millions of Americans is one of the best reasons for enacting the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act," Frank Clemente, executive director of Americans for Tax Fairness, said.

"This legislation will narrow the nation's destabilizing wealth gap while raising trillions of dollars from billionaires and the other super-rich."

Argentina became the first country to respond to the pandemic with a one-off "millionaire tax." Fewer than one in 100 earners will pay the tax, which the government hopes will raise $3.78 billion to help pay for its pandemic response.

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