Elizabeth Warren proposes Thomas Piketty-style annual wealth tax

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2019/01/24/2t-over-10y.html


Downside of a Wealth tax is that it’s hard to quantify wealth. It seems strange, but if nobody is currently trying to buy some object then how do you know how much it is worth? Original purchase price only goes so far, especially with antiques and collectables. Even more complex is the need to factor in depreciation.

Taxes on investments are probably easier, but would absolutely explode the markets. How you would tax anonymous offshore holding companies is an open ended question that is key to this problem.

The implementation details are moot however because there is a -1000% chance this goes anywhere in Congress.


A tax on wealth and not income?! She was allowed to express such an idea with out being disappeared? mayhap their is hope for the world!


Ocasio-Cortez: I’m going to show ordinary Americans how greedy and tone-deaf people who make over $10-million/annum are by proposing a 70% marginal tax rate on every dollar over that.

Warren: Hold my beer…


There is a thing called Fair Market Value. It is pretty squishy, but it’s not a black hole of unknowing. If you give an antique to charity, you can deduct the FMV without first selling the thing.


this primary is going to be hilarious as they each try to get more left of each other

instead of this silliness and promising a pony in everyone’s back yard, how about just saying “I’m not freaking trump and I actually have a college education” - all that’s needed anymore

we’ve gotten so used to the stupidity the whitehouse has become that I think the next few presidents get a pass on just about anything now, almost to a dangerous point


Fair Market Value is basically just you pulling a number out of your ass, and if it doesn’t look too outrageous they go with it. But that’s the sort of thing that gets super messy at scale, and invites tons of fraud.

You will definitely have rich bastards saying: Hmm, 1953 Corvette in perfect condition? Well, it was bought for $3,500 and has 62 years of depreciation, so it’s worth $100 today…


She’s a “would-be” presidential candidate? I thought she declared she was a candidate.

Also, lest you forget she’s also US Senator Elizabeth Warren.


Raising taxes isn’t a pony.

Because we have real problems over and above trump that need actual solutions. Trump sucks, but if we don’t have actual policies that deal with our problems, we’re all fucked. And I don’t just mean here in the US. I mean the whole fucking planet. Getting rid of Trump is not going to fix income inequality or climate change.


Allow the owner to set his/her own taxable value on the item, with the stipulation it must be sold to anyone who is willing to offer that amount plus twenty percent.


Cute idea, but impossibly complex in the real world.

The only way it works at all is to set up a fairly limited category of things that constitute “wealth”. Land, structures, vehicles, jewelry, investments, holding companies, anything you paid more than some threshold for ($50k?), and tax only that. Nobody wants to itemize every last object in their house to calculate wealth.

When you see something like Forbes list of the 100 richest people, remember that those numbers are educated guesses. They’re likely off by some fairly large percentage.

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It doesn’t sound like her plan goes after investments (cash holdings and non-reinvested dividends might be another matter):

Wealth is defined in the plan as “all household assets… including residences, closely held businesses, assets held in trust, retirement assets, assets held by minor children, and personal property with a value of $50,000 or more.”

Most of those are already auditable/quantifiable in one way or another, and “closely held businesses” allows for a lot of openings given how often UHNWIs use LLCs to manage their assets. As for personal property asset classes like art, antiques, etc., if this plan took them into account it would probably be based on insured value at the time the tax is levied.*

But as you say, this has little chance of passing through the current Congress. It’s more about making the most obnoxious greedpigs and their bootlickers in the right-wing noise machine and the GOP howl so that everyone can identify them. Like AOC’s proposed tax, it’s more about shifting the public conversation from the default neoliberal one that’s been the norm since the 1980s.

[* ETA: when you’re getting into assets worth $50k+ they’re usually insured individually rather than under general household insurance]


Except that they already do, for insurance purposes.


Yeah, I was kidding.

I think you are right. This tax would have to be limited to things that have a standardized value (assessed real estate, publicly traded securities, etc).

Better a simple and clean plan that generates $x trillion instead of another 80,000 pages of tax code that theoretically collects half again as much but actually creates more and more middlemen and more corruption.

I don’t list everything in my house on my insurance. There’s just a lump sum that the policy covers.

Moving the Overton Window to the left.


I’ve always said a small tax on every financial transaction would be the best approach. Hell, we already have sales taxes for buying/selling of physical goods. It’s not outrageous to put a small fee for every buy/sell stock market transaction.

Bonus is it would really crack down on market volatility by making day traders and high frequency automated trading less profitable and encourage holding long positions.


I really need to read Piketty… just no time.

I’ll say this for AOC: she has single handedly (holding her twitter machine in one hand no doubt) done more to move the Overton window LEFTWARD for the first time in my life. Talk earnestly about 70% for income over $5M and then maybe settle for a bit less.


Well then I’m pretty sure this tax won’t apply to you. Unless you could give a shit if your vast collection of Monets were lost in a house fire.


You really don’t need to read the whole 700 page tome. Much of it is data and statistics to back up his main thesis which you can get from just the first section. He also includes a lot of historical background that you can skim through.