Power Players

Billionaire Ray Dalio: 'Of course' rich people like me should pay more taxes

Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates Founder, President & CIO.
Anjali Sundaram | CNBC

Financier Ray Dalio is on a mission to let everyone know that wealth inequality has become so extreme it is driving a dangerous wedge in society.

The 69-year-old is on the fortunate side of that wealth gap: He's the founder of the largest hedge fund in the world, Bridgewater Associates, which has made him a billionaire more than 18 times over, according to Forbes.

But he's also willing to open his wallet.

"So should taxes on people like you be raised?" Dalio was asked by Bill Whitaker on "60 Minutes" on Sunday.

"Of course," Dalio said. "One way or another, the important thing is to take those tax dollars and make them productive."

Ray Dalio: I want people to have the same resources I had under capitalism

"So, it's gotta be through taxation?" said Whitaker.

Dalio was firm: "Yes."

"Am I saying something that's controversial?" Dalio asked.

"It's just strange to hear it come from the mouth of a billionaire," said Whitaker.

But Dalio said it is his own experience as a self-made entrepreneur that pushed him to speak out about the dangers of capitalism run amok — a version of the American dream he doesn't believe is available to most people anymore.

"I lived the American dream, ya know?" he said. "I think the American dream is lost. ... For the most part we don't even talk about what is the American dream. And it's very different from when I was growing up."

Dalio started Bridgewater Associates out of his two-bedroom New York City apartment in 1975. Now the hedge fund manages $160 billion in assets, according to Forbes.

Ray Dalio, Bridgewater Associates Founder, President & CIO.
Anjali Sundaram | CNBC

Dalio has company in calling for higher tax rates on the rich. Freshman Congresswoman from New York Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proposed a marginal tax rate on those making more than $10 million as high as 70 percent.

And contrary to Whitaker's comment, other billionaires have called for higher taxes as well.

Microsoft founder Bill Gates would like to see higher taxes levied on the top economic brackets.

"There's no free lunch here. You'd have to collect more money," Gates told CNN's Fareed Zakaria in February. "As you go about doing this additional collection, of course you want to be progressive. You want the portion that comes from the top 1 percent or top 20 percent to be much higher."

And billionaire Berkshire Hathaway boss Warren Buffett is also a long-time advocate of raising tax rates on the rich.

"I don't think I need a tax cut," Buffett told CNBC in October regarding the then recently released Republican tax plan.

Billionaire hedge fund founder Ray Dalio says American capitalism is not sustainable

In 2011, Buffett penned in the New York Times titled "Stop Coddling the Super-Rich," he called for a raise on taxes for everyone making more than $1 million. He called for an even more severe tax hike on those making more than $10 million or more. (Buffett did not provide specific tax rates.)

"I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn't mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering," Buffett wrote in the Times.

Even as Dalio, Gates and Buffett say they are willing to pay higher tax rates to Uncle Sam, not everyone thinks taxing the rich at high rates is beneficial for society.

For example, former Federal Reserve Chairman Alan Greenspan said raising the marginal tax rate on the richest Americans to 70 percent, as Ocasio-Cortez suggested, would result in "a significant drop in economic activity," he told CNBC's "Squawk on the Street."

"Maybe I better make myself clear," Greenspan said. "I think it would be a terrible mistake."

See also:

Billionaire Warren Buffett: 'I don't need a tax cut' in a society with so much inequality

Bill Gates: Taxes on rich should be 'much higher' but capitalism still works — here's why

Ocasio-Cortez's 70% tax plan gets fierce response, but even Warren Buffett says rich should pay more

Billionaire Warren Buffett says 'the real problem' with the US economy is people like him