With the 2020 election coming up, there’s been much talk about taxes. Several 2020 Democratic candidates are advocating for raising taxes on the ultra-wealthy. They believe that by reducing that considerable disparity between the upper and lower classes, those with reduced incomes will have a higher quality of life. Many wealthy people aren’t fond of these proposals and feel like it’s unfair to be so heavily taxed.
On the other hand, several billionaires are for the idea of being taxed at a higher rate. They see how unfair it is for a select number of people to control most of the wealth in the world. Big names like Bill Gates and Warren Buffett have long championed higher tax rates for the most top earners in the United States.
If a two percent wealth tax was implemented on those that make millions and billions of dollars, it would make a massive difference for the middle and lower classes. Keep reading to learn more about the billionaires and multimillionaires who are in support of a higher tax rate for the ultra-rich population.
1. Taxes in the United States
Taxes are essential to helping the government function. A person’s income is taxed based on how much they earn per year. That money is then used to fund government projects like road repairs, military operations, sanitation, and public safety. Tax money also contributes to social security.
There are several different types of taxes. In addition to income tax, there are payroll taxes, property taxes, inheritance taxes, and sales taxes. If you earn an income, you must pay taxes on it. If not, you could be charged with the serious crime of tax evasion and sentenced to time in jail as well as financially penalized.
Also known as an equity or capital tax, a wealth tax is put on a rich person’s assets, owned businesses, and properties. Many countries around the world levy a wealth tax on their wealthiest residents. While a wealth tax has been proposed many times in the United States, there is no official tax on the ultra-rich.
Many people argue that it’s unconstitutional to charge wealthy people extra for having much money. Luckily there are quite a few people in the 1 percent that are for a higher tax rate on billionaires and multimillionaires. Hopefully, these individuals can band together and help the government implement changes in tax rates.
One of the most notable names on this list is Bill Gates. You probably know him for being the founder of the Microsoft Corporation. His company is one of the largest technology organizations in the world.
Gates made his money with Microsoft and has worked part-time there since 2006. Since then, Gates has partnered with his wife Melinda to start the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, which is the largest private foundation in the world. Bill Gates has been considered one of the world’s wealthiest individuals since 1987. He is currently the second richest person in the world behind Amazon founder Jeff Bezos.
As a billionaire, Bill Gates has paid north of $10 billion in taxes throughout his lifetime. He’s a fan of the estate tax and has no issues with raising taxes on the ultra-wealthy. Gates is a fan of potentially raising taxes for the world’s wealthiest billionaires. He believes that the government should require billionaires to pay much higher taxes.
One thing Gates is not a fan of is eliminating billionaires. Senator Bernie Sanders has proposed taxing wealthy people enough that there are no longer billionaires in the United States. Gates believes that would cause more negative effects than positive effects.
Warren Buffet is the third richest person in the world and is best known for being the chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, a multinational corporation that owns a wide variety of businesses, including Dairy Queen, Geico, Fruit of the Loom, and Helzberg Diamonds. Buffett is considered one of the world’s most successful investors.
Buffett is a proponent of value investing, an investment practice that focuses on buying stocks that appear overpriced in the hopes that they will rise in value over time. He is a philanthropist who loves a frugal life, choosing to give away at least 50 percent of his net worth.
Warren Buffett believes that the wealthiest people are severely undertaxed. He believes that Congress should work toward raising income tax credits for those who are low income. This, in turn, would raise taxes on the highest earners in the United States.
Buffett says that by doing so, good people who don’t have enough knowledge or skills to invest in the stock market still have a chance to earn a good living. He says that it’s time to stop coddling the rich. Buffett even admitted that of all the people working in his office, he is taxed at the lowest rate.
Ray Dalio is the founder and co-chairman of the investment firm Bridgewater Associates, one of the largest hedge funds in the world. As of 2019, he is the 58th wealthiest person on the planet. Dalio began his investing career at the age of 12 by investing $300 in shares of Northeast Airlines.
After graduating from college, Dalio spent time working on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange. He founded Bridgewater Associates in 1975, out of his apartment. His company now has more than $160 billion in assets that it manages. Dalio is very charitable and has pledged to give away more than half of his fortune during his lifetime.
Ray Dalio considers wealth inequality to be a national emergency in the United States. He has called for a reform of capitalism. Dalio believes that government deficits, excess capital, and unfunded social liabilities are a recipe for disaster.
Dalio is another billionaire on board, with the wealthy paying more taxes. By paying more taxes, the world’s billionaires can give ordinary people with average or low incomes a chance to stay on their feet. The billionaires will not run out of money anytime soon, even if they are taxed double or triple what they are being taxed now.
You may know Mark Cuban from the hit ABC TV show Shark Tank, but he’s also a successful entrepreneur. Cuban got his start in the tech industry right as the dotcom boom began. He took small investments and turned them into big successes.
Cuban is also known for owning the NBA basketball the Dallas Mavericks. He’s also the chairman of the TV channel AXS TV as well as the co-owner of 2929 Entertainment, a media, and entertainment company. Cuban has invested in several other sports leagues as well, including esports and futsal. On the TV show Shark Tank, he is the Shark with the highest net worth.
Cuban has been an advocate for wealth tax increases on the rich for several years. When President Trump proposed cutting tax rates in 2017, Cuban was against the idea. He thinks that payroll taxes should be reduced. That way, all working Americans can get a raise.
The money that would go into raising salaries could be recouped by taxing the highest earners. This money can also be put back into the national budget and be used to stimulate the economy. According to Cuban, it’s a win-win situation. It would undoubtedly help average Americans thrive.
Howard Schultz is an American businessman who worked as the CEO and chairman of Starbucks, beginning in 1986. He worked on and off for Starbucks since the 1980s and retired as executive chairman in June of 2018. Schultz is now chairman emeritus for the coffee chain. He co-founded the investment group Maveron in 1998.
Schultz planned to run for president during the 2020 election cycle as an independent candidate. Many were against this idea as they believed it would derail efforts to elect a Democratic candidate. Schultz abandoned his plans to run for president in the Fall of 2019.
Howard Schultz is another billionaire who favors raising taxes for the wealthy. He feels that he should be paying more in taxes because of his high income. As someone who owns roughly three percent of Starbucks’ stock, he has a lot of money that could be taxed.
On the other hand, Schultz has issues with some proposed tax measures. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has suggested a 70 percent marginal tax rate for millionaires and billionaires. Scultz believes this idea to be punitive and would not advocate it. Maybe he’ll help to figure out a fair tax increase for wealthy individuals.
Abigail Disney is the granddaughter of Roy Disney, the man who co-founded the Walt Disney Company with his brother Walt. She is a documentary filmmaker, social activist, and philanthropist. Disney makes films about heavy topics like gun control, religion, and war.
Disney is an outspoken critic on income inequality. She recently criticized the income of Disney’s CEO, Bob Iger. In 2018, he received a $66 million salary with an additional $35 million compensation package. Abigail Disney stated that no CEO has talents worth more than 500 times the salary the company’s median worker earns.
Despite having millions of dollars, Abigail Disney is exceptionally supportive of increasing taxes on the rich. She recently signed a letter, along with 18 ultra-wealthy American citizens, urging 2020 presidential candidates to get on board with a moderate wealth tax. For several years she has advocated for tax reform.
In 2017, Disney openly criticized a Republican tax bill that was designed to benefit the country’s wealthiest citizens unfairly. Having advocates like Disney can help to change the state of tax reform and hopefully lead to serious changes in the government. It will be interesting to see how the upcoming election affects tax rates in the United States.
Robert Bowditch is a real estate mogul based in Boston. He graduated from Harvard College, the University of Washington, and Harvard Law School. Bowditch has long been interested in philosophy, public policy, and sports.
During his business career, Bowditch worked closely with government agencies and public officials. He founded the Blossom Fund, an organization that supports cultural, environmental, and grassroots development efforts in Haiti, Central America, and Boston. Bowditch also is a partner in the Democracy Alliance and the Scholars Strategy Network. He made his money through his company MB Associates, a real estate firm that develops affordable and market-rate housing.
Bowditch is now in his 80s and has retired from the real estate business. Even so, he sees the importance of taxing the ultra-wealthy. In October 2019, Bowditch told the Associated Press: “Charitable giving by itself simply cannot provide enough money to support public goods and services, such as public education, roads, and bridges, clean air. It has to be done by taxes.”
Bowditch has long been an advocate for tax reform. He signed an open letter to then-President Obama in 2010 asking for the president to let tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires to expire. The letter asked for tax cuts on incomes over $1 million to become obsolete.
Agnes Gund is the matriarch of the Gund Family. She is an arts patron, philanthropist, and social justice advocate. Currently, she acts as the President Emerita of the Museum of Modern Art as well as the Chairman of the MoMA’s International Council.
When the financial crisis of New York in 1977 hit, nearly all arts education programs in schools was eliminated. Gund founded Studio in a School, which is a non-profit organization that allows professional artists to teach art classes in public schools. This program exposes students to painting, sculpture, collage, drawing, printmaking, and more art forms. Gund also has an impressive art collection and has donated hundreds of pieces to the Museum of Modern Art.
Like Robert Bowditch, Agnes Gund signed the letter to President Obama in 2010 asking to eliminate tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires. She also asked her daughter Catherine Gund to sign the letter with her. Seeing how she has worked hard for inequality throughout her life, this is not a surprise.
Gund sees how the disparity among tax rates has impacted lower-income families. She knows how much change can occur if the ultra-wealthy are taxed at a higher price. The more that the wealthiest Americans fight for tax reform, the more significant the impact it will have for the average American family. Luckily, the number of millionaires who are pro-tax reform is climbing.
Chris Hughes attended Harvard University, where he met Mark Zuckerberg. Hughes partnered with Zuckerberg and several other men to develop one of the biggest social networks in the world, Facebook. He was responsible for beta testing and product suggestions.
During his time at Facebook, Hughes worked as a de facto spokesman. Hughes worked at Facebook until 2007, when he left to work on the Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama’s campaign. Hughes works now as a philanthropist, advocate for marriage equality, and is the co-chair of the Economic Security Project.
At just 35 years old, Hughes is worth nearly half a billion dollars. He and his husband Sean Eldridge are dedicated to political activism, especially marriage and income equality. Both Hughes and Eldridge signed the letter to President Barack Obama asking him to allow tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires to expire.
As millennials, Hughes and Eldridge see first hand how income inequality affects the younger generation. They know that philanthropy can only go so far. The United States government needs to take more taxes from the rich to fund essential projects like healthcare, road construction, and public safety.
Liesel Pritzker Simmons is an American heiress and former child actress. She is an heir to the Pritzker family fortune. The Pritzker family has been listed as one of the nation’s wealthiest families since 1982.
Along with her husband Ian Simmons, Liesel founded the Blue Haven Initiative in 2012. This company is an impact investment organization. It’s one of the largest in the world that focuses solely on impact investing. Blue Haven Initiative works in Sub-Saharan Africa to improve the quality of life, create job opportunities, and deliver products to underserved communities. They do this by investing in fixed-income investments as well as public equities.
Liesel Pritzker Simmons and her husband, Ian, are two more people who signed the letter urging President Barack Obama not to renew tax cuts for America’s wealthiest people. They believe that by taking more money from the ultra-wealthy via taxes, it will help to stabilize the economy.
Having a stable source of taxation can lead to not only a stable economy but job growth as well. It can also help those in lower-income families have access to better resources such as medical care. It’s nice to see that people with this much money are ready to enact change to help the greater good.
Another ultra-wealthy American is George Soros. He emigrated to the United Kingdom in 1947 after surviving Nazi Germany-occupied Hungary. Soros eventually became an American citizen in 1961 and started his first hedge fund in 1969 called Double Eagle. He made most of his fortune through Quantum Fund, which at one time was considered the largest hedge fund in the world.
At one time, his net worth was roughly $40 billion, but he ended up donating over $32 billion to his grant-making network Open Society Foundations. Now Soros is worth about $8 billion.
Both Soros and his son Alexander have signed the pledge that many other billionaires on this list signed back in 2010. They, too, believe that by taxing the ultra-rich, that will end up making the United States better as a whole. Alexander Soros works as the deputy chair of his father’s nonprofit organization, the Open Society Foundations.
Soros is in favor of taxing the rich via a wealth tax. He states that being a wealthy financier creates a moral problem for himself. That is because people tend to be suspicious of financiers. Soros believed that the general view of financiers hindered him from making money.
Based in Washington State, Nick Hanauer is a venture capitalist and entrepreneur. Hanauer graduated from the University of Washington with a degree in philosophy. He got his start working at the Pacific Coast Feather Company, a family-owned business that provides bedding like mattresses, pillows, and comforters.
Hanauer served as co-chair and CEO of Pacific Coast Feather Company until he sold it in 2018. He co-founded Museum Quality Framing Company in the early 1980s and invested in Amazon in its beginning stages. Thanks to his successful companies and wise investment strategy, Hanauer has amassed quite a fortune.
Like the other wealthy people on this list, Hanauer is a fan of imposing a wealth tax. He feels that it will help the economy grow and provide people with more job opportunities. According to him, trickle-down economists are wrong about the negative impact a wealth tax may have on the United States.
For many years, Hanauer has been a critic of income inequality in America. Although he claims not to be a billionaire, he and his wife have signed The Giving Pledge. By signing this pledge, they agree to give away 50 percent or more of their net worth in their lifetime. Only people with more than 1 billion dollars can sign The Giving Pledge.
Munger is the eldest daughter of Berkshire Hathaway vice chairman Charlie Munger. Munger is considered to be Warren Buffett’s partner at the multinational holding company. He also worked as the chairman of Wesco Financial Corporation and the Daily Journal Corporation. Charlie Munger is also a director at Costco Wholesale Corporation.
Molly Munger graduated from Harvard Law School and now works as a civil rights lawyer in Pasadena, California. Munger is also a strong advocate for education in America. She funded a ballot initiative to raise taxes in California to boost funds for public education.
While on vacation with her family in Newport Beach, a view from the ocean made Molly Munger contemplate the income inequality in America. During a Memorial Day trip, Munger and her family were sailing in the sea on her family’s yacht. She could see the line of empty mansions on the waterfront.
Munger talked about this in an interview with the Associated Press. “It’s just too much to watch that happen at the top and see what is happening at the bottom. Isn’t it a waste when beautiful homes on the beach are empty for most of the summer?” she asked. It made her assess her life and the benefits of implementing a wealth tax.
Marc Benioff is an American entrepreneur, philanthropist, and author who is a force in the tech market. He founded Salesforce, a cloud computing company in San Francisco in 1999. Since then, Benioff has been chairman and co-CEO of the company.
Benioff has been developing software since he was 15 years old. He founded Liberty Software and began creating games. Eventually, he was earning $1,500 per month from his games and saved up enough money to go to college at USC. After college, Benioff worked at Apple and Oracle before founding Salesforce. He became the vice president at Oracle when he was just 23 years old.
Benioff recently wrote an op-ed piece for The New York Times. In the article, he talked extensively about imposing a wealth tax on the country’s most wealthy people. “Nationally, increasing taxes on high-income individuals like myself would help generate the trillions of dollars that we desperately need to improve education and health care and fight climate change.”
Benioff also supported a tax locally to combat the rising homelessness crisis in San Francisco. He proposed taxing the San Francisco Bay Area’s largest companies to generate funding to help the homeless population.
American entrepreneur and philanthropist Eli Broad is on record as the only person to have founded two Fortune 500 companies in separate industries. He started KB Home, a home building company, in 1957. Broad founded SunAmerica, a retirement savings company, which was acquired by AIG in 1999.
As of 2019, Broad is the 78th wealthiest person in the United States and the 233rd wealthiest individual in the world. He is a prominent philanthropist and works to improve scientific and medical research, visual and performing arts, and public K-12 education. He is also the founding chairman of the Museum of Contemporary Art in Los Angeles.
Broad does a lot of work for charity but does not think it will be enough to help the average American family. Additional changes like implementing a $15 minimum wage, giving Americans better access to healthcare, and fixing the state of public education are great, but won’t truly help low-income families as a wealth tax will. He firmly believes the current method of American capitalism is not working.
Broad says that the best way to help all Americans is to have a wealth tax. That way, the wealthiest citizens can provide support for lower-income individuals. Giving millionaires and billionaires a higher tax rate is the best way to reduce income inequality.
You may know Michael Bloomberg best as being the mayor of New York City. He held this position from 2002 to 2013. He is also a businessman, philanthropist, and author. His net worth is more than $50 billion, making him the 14th richest person in the world and the ninth richest person in the United States.
Like many people on this list, Bloomberg has signed The Giving Pledge, agreeing to give away no less than half of his wealth. In his life, he has given away more than $8 billion. In 2018, Bloomberg donated $1.8 billion to Johns Hopkins University to be used for student aid. This is the largest private donation that has ever been made to a private institution.
Bloomberg considers himself to be a fiscal conservative. When he was the mayor of New York City, he managed to eliminate the city’s existing $6 billion deficit. He did so by raising property taxes as well as making budget cuts to city agencies.
Recently, Bloomberg has come out in favor of a wealth tax. His method for solving the issues surrounding income inequality is to adjust the progressiveness of the current tax rates. Bloomberg is mulling a run for the 2020 presidential election. Who knows if tax reform is one of his top campaign focuses?
Pierre Omidyar is an American computer scientist, entrepreneur, and philanthropist. He is most well-known for founding the online auction website eBay in 1995. When eBay went public in 1998, Omidyar became a billionaire. He served as chairman of eBay from 1998 to 2015.
Omidyar and his wife Pamela founded the Omidyar Network in 2004 for their philanthropy efforts. This is a philanthropist investment network that works to field money for nonprofit organizations. To date, the Omidyar Network has committed nearly $1 billion to various charitable organizations. Pierre Omidyar is also passionate about journalism and founded the online publication of the Honolulu Civil Beat.
Earlier this year, Omidyar talked about his support of tax reform. He explained that an increase in the capital gains tax would be beneficial. As a tech expert, he also shared an idea for a new data tax because, in his words, “tech ‘data’ generated by labor is creating increasing returns for fewer owners.”
On the other hand, Omidyar is concerned that such a wealth tax could cause millionaires and billionaires to restructure their money. In turn, it could be harder to know who truly owns a business as well as which individuals control most of the world’s resources. This could result in a “fight or flight” response by the ultra-wealthy.
Hansjörg Wyss is a Switzerland-born businessman who now resides in Wyoming. This entrepreneur and philanthropist is the founder and former CEO of Synthes USA, a medical device manufacturer that makes plates and internal screws for broken bones. The early Synthes USA manufacturing plant was opened in Colorado. This company was sold to Johnson & Johnson in 2012 for $21.3 billion in cash.
Forbes Magazine refers to Wyss as one of the most philanthropic people in the world. In just four years, he donated more than $275 million to charity. He is another billionaire to have signed The Giving Pledge, meaning at least 50 percent of his wealth will go to those in need.
The philanthropic causes nearest and dearest to Hansjörg Wyss’ heart are social justice, science, and the environment. He also donates funds to European museums and history-related projects. The Wyss Foundation, the charity organization he founded and served as chairman, has awarded a variety of grants for environmental protection and progressive policy organizations.
Along with George Soros, Abigail Disney, Chris Hughes, and other figures, Hansjörg Wyss signed an open letter urging 2020 presidential candidates to support a substantial wealth tax on the country’s wealthiest individuals. Wyss is also supportive of raising inheritance taxes on the wealthy in the United States and his native Switzerland.
Leon G. Cooperman is a hedge fund manager, investor, and philanthropist. He currently works as the CEO and chairman of Omega Advisors. This company is based in New York City and is an investment advisory firm. Omega Advisors manages more than $3.3 billion in assets. Most of these assets consist of Cooperman’s personal wealth.
Before starting his own company, Cooperman worked at Xerox briefly before joining Goldman Sachs. He retired from the famous investment company in 1991 after working there for 25 years. That’s when he started Omega Advisors, where he worked as the lead advisor until 2016.
Cooperman recently wrote an op-ed piece in the Financial Times to discuss a wealth tax. He wrote, “the best path forward for the country and whether the federal government is currently up to the task of allocating those tax resources efficiently.” Does the government have enough sense to dispense funds earned by raising taxes on the wealthy properly?
Cooperman discussed the “Buffett Rule” named after Warren Buffett. This rule states that the wealthy should never pay a smaller portion of income tax than those from the middle to low-income families. He also is a fan of implementing a surtax on all individuals that make more than $1 million.