As part of his presidential primary campaign and efforts to outflank the rise of Sen. Elizabeth Warren, Sanders announced a wealth tax that would hit multibillionaires like Bezos especially hard. The Amazon CEO would pay more in annual wealth taxes than the net worth of the 50 richest Americans as listed by Forbes.
"I don't think billionaires should exist," Sanders told The New York Times. If his tax plan were put into effect, billionaires would lose half their wealth in 15 years, provided all other factors (like their stock prices or business values) remained constant.
While Warren's proposal also taxes billionaires at a higher rate than multimillionaires, Sanders' plan, announced Tuesday, is far more punitive to those at the very top — reflecting the strong support for taxing the rich among certain voters.
Warren's plan would impose a tax of 2% of wealth over $50 million and 3% on wealth over $1 billion. Sanders' plan starts at a lower wealth level – taxing those worth $32 million at 1% – so his tax would hit about 180,000 families versus about 75,000 households under Warren's proposal.
The sliding scale of the Sanders plan also quickly escalates for wealth over $500 million, which would be taxed at 4%. Wealth over $10 billion would be taxed at a rate of 8% — more than four times the highest wealth-tax rates that European countries once imposed. The high rates at the top are the main reason Sanders projects his tax would raise $4.35 trillion over 10 years, compared with Warren's, which is estimated to raise $2.6 trillion.
Here are some examples of the annual wealth tax bill that some of today's top billionaires would pay, in addition to whatever income taxes, property taxes and payroll taxes they already pay.
Note: Estimates are based on the net worth of each individual as reported by the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.