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Democrats unveil proposal for 'millionaires surtax'

Democrats unveil proposal for 'millionaires surtax'
© Greg Nash

Rep. Don Beyer (D-Va.) and Sen. Chris Van HollenChristopher (Chris) Van HollenDemocratic senators unveil bill to ban discrimination in financial services industry Senate Democrats call for ramped up Capitol coronavirus testing Democratic senators offer bill to make payroll tax deferral optional for federal workers MORE (D-Md.) on Thursday rolled out a proposal for a “millionaires surtax,” amid a growing interest from Democrats in increasing taxes on the wealthy.

“This is a bill designed to address two major problems of public policy: the lack of revenue, and inequality,” Beyer said on a call with reporters. “It’s a laser-focused solution that requires those who benefited the most from the economy to contribute in a way they simply haven’t been asked to before.”

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The lawmakers’ bill, which is being co-sponsored by Sen. Sherrod BrownSherrod Campbell BrownBrown says Biden's first moves as president should be COVID relief, voting rights Senators battle over Supreme Court nominee in rare Saturday session Sunday shows preview: Trump, Biden gear up for final sprint to Election Day MORE (D-Ohio), would create a 10 percentage point surtax on all income above $2 million for married couples and $1 million for single tax filers. 

The surtax would result in the top tax rate on income from wages and salaries increasing from 37 percent to 47 percent, plus a 3.8 percent Medicare surtax. It would result in the top rate on capital gains increasing from 20 percent to 30 percent, plus a 3.8 percent net investment tax.

The Tax Policy Center, a joint project of the Urban Institute and the Brookings Institution, has estimated that such a surtax would raise nearly $635 billion over 10 years.

“This is revenue generated that we can then invest in helping other Americans succeed,” Van Hollen said.

The release of Beyer and Van Hollen’s proposal comes as Democratic presidential candidates and lawmakers have been offering a host of proposal to tax the rich more in order to combat inequality and raise revenue to pay for spending priorities. Of note, Sens. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenOvernight Defense: Dems want hearing on DOD role on coronavirus vaccine | US and India sign data-sharing pact | American citizen kidnapped in Niger Conservative operatives Wohl, Burkman charged in Ohio over false robocalls Senate Democrats want hearing on Pentagon vaccine effort MORE (D-Mass.) and Bernie SandersBernie SandersIntercept bureau chief says congressional progressives looking to become stronger force in 2021 Obama book excerpt: 'Hard to deny my overconfidence' during early health care discussions Americans have a choice: Socialized medicine or health care freedom MORE (I-Vt.), who are both running for president, have proposed wealth taxes on multimillionaires and billionaires.

Van Hollen said his proposal isn’t “in conflict” with other tax-the-rich proposals, and that the surtax proposal “will become part of that broader debate.”

Beyer said there has been a debate about whether a wealth tax would be constitutional, but there shouldn’t be any constitutional issues with their surtax. He also said that the surtax proposal was simpler than a wealth tax.

The “millionaires surtax” proposal is backed by progressive tax groups such as the Patriotic Millionaires and Americans for Tax Fairness. Supporters of the proposal have released a calculator that allows people to see what the revenue raised by the surtax could fully or partially fund.

Supporters of the proposal also released polling data from Hart Research that found that 73 percent of voters would support a Democratic proposal creating such a surtax — including a majority of Republicans and of those who voted for President TrumpDonald John TrumpGiuliani goes off on Fox Business host after she compares him to Christopher Steele Trump looks to shore up support in Nebraska NYT: Trump had 7 million in debt mostly tied to Chicago project forgiven MORE.