Exclusive: Democrat exploring 'patriot tax' on multimillionaires' wealth

Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-N.Y.), a member of the tax-writing House Ways and Means Committee, said that he’s exploring the idea of a one-time tax on the wealth of the richest Americans as Democrats seek to increase taxes on the rich in order to pay for spending priorities.

In an interview with The Hill on Friday, Suozzi said he’s in the early stages of looking at what he called a “patriot tax.” This would be a one-time surcharge of 2.5 percent on wealth between $50 million and $100 million and a 5 percent tax on wealth above $100 million. Wealthy people would be able to pay the tax over five years.

Research provided by Suozzi’s office estimates that such a tax could raise about $450 billion.

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Suozzi said that the surcharge he’s exploring would reflect the fact that many wealthy Americans were less hurt by the coronavirus pandemic than people with less income.

“We all know that people who are wealthy did very well during the pandemic and people that were low-income people did not do well,” he said.

He said that for wealthy people, the surcharge would be “a way to help your country to build back better.”

Suozzi has yet to introduce any legislation based on his idea, and the tax he's considering could face challenges with being enacted. The Biden administration has not endorsed proposals for wealth taxes, and the idea would be sure to face opposition from Republicans. 

Suozzi said that the revenue raised by the tax could help to offset the cost of President BidenJoe BidenThe Supreme Court and blind partisanship ended the illusion of independent agencies Missed debt ceiling deadline kicks off high-stakes fight Senate infrastructure talks spill over into rare Sunday session MORE’s infrastructure proposals, as well as restoring the full state and local tax deduction, a top priority for the New York congressman and other lawmakers in his state.

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Suozzi spoke to The Hill days after ProPublica published a report detailing how prominent U.S. billionaires pay little in taxes when compared to their wealth gains. The U.S. federal tax system is based on income, not wealth. 

Democrats in recent years have increasingly floated ideas aimed at making the wealthiest Americans pay more in taxes. The idea from Suozzi, a member of the moderate, bipartisan Problem Solvers Caucus, has some similarities to wealth taxes proposed by progressive lawmakers such as Sen. Elizabeth WarrenElizabeth WarrenCalifornia Democrats warn of low turnout in recall election Pelosi disputes Biden's power to forgive student loans Warren hits the airwaves for Newsom ahead of recall election MORE (D-Mass.), but Warren’s proposal would create an annual tax rather than a one-time tax.

Suozzi’s comments also come amid a debate over how to pay for infrastructure spending. Biden has called for paying for his two proposed packages, which combined would cost about $4 trillion, through tax increases on high-income households and corporations. Republicans, however, oppose rolling back their 2017 tax-cut law.