Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) added to the rapidly growing pile of proposals to increases taxes on the wealthy Thursday, introducing a bill that would significantly expand the reach of the estate tax.
The legislation, called the “For the 99.8% Act,” would tax estates worth as little as $3.5 million, well below the $11 million threshold enacted by the Republican tax bill in 2017. The bill would also take steps to limit the ability of wealthy families to pass money to the next generation without paying taxes. Here’s a breakdown of the proposed estate tax brackets, according to Sanders’ summary of the bill:
- 45 percent on the value of an estate between $3.5 million and $10 million.
- 50 percent for the value of an estate between $10 million and $50 million.
- 55 percent for the value of an estate in excess of $50 million.
- 77 percent for the value of an estate in excess of $1 billion.
The summary notes that the “top estate tax rate was 77 percent from 1941 to 1976, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.”
The proposal comes just a few days after Republican senators released their own bill that would eliminate the estate tax entirely.
Sanders’s press release says his proposed estate tax would apply only to the wealthiest 0.2 percent of Americans, and provides some calculations to show it would affect the country’s billionaires. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, for example, is worth an estimated $131 billion. Under current law, his estate would face a tax liability of $52 billion. Under the Republican proposal to eliminate the estate tax, his estate would face a tax liability of $0. Under Sanders’ proposal, it would face a tax liability of $101 billion.
Applied to all 588 billionaires in the U.S., who have estates currently valued at roughly $3 trillion, the estate tax would create potential liabilities of about $2 trillion.