American billionaires’ wealth soared almost two-thirds during pandemic, and they’re still not paying taxes on it
According to an Oxfam America report, Monday’s shocking revelation was that the 735 billionaires living in the US have seen their wealth rise 62% in the past two years. It now stands at $4.7 trillion.
While the billionaires’ wealth gains show no sign of slowing down, ordinary workers’ earnings have gone up just 10% – The meager growth has been almost cancelled by significant increases in housing, fuel, food and other commodities. There is no stopping the spiraling inflation. Many are still struggling to recover economically following the Covid-19 crisis lockdown.
ProPublica’s recent study revealed that the federal income tax rate for the average American family is 14%. However, those who are 25 or more wealthy paid only 3.4% effective rates between 2014 and 2018. While there are plenty of different reasons the rich may end up paying less, one major cause is that they don’t report a major chunk of their income – something even the Internal Revenue Service was finally forced to admit last year.
“We estimate that 36% of federal income taxes unpaid are owed by the top 1% and that collecting all unpaid federal income tax from this group would increase federal revenues by about $175 billion annually,” the researchers admitted.
Rather than follow up on that discovery, the IRS continues to audit low-income families – those earning $25,000 or less – at a rate five times higher than any other class of taxpayer, according to an analysis conducted last month by the Transactional Records Access Clearinghouse. IRS admitted “such low audit rates are not optimal,” but has thus far declined to address the problem.
While several US politicians have proposed plans to counter the inexorable ‘trickle-up’ draining working class Americans dry, none have made it to a vote. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Oregon) has called for taxing the unrealized capital gains of billionaires, a system that would bring in $56 billion per year in revenues, enough to paid sick leave, family medical leave, and affordable childcare, according to Oxfam’s calculations. Alex Lee, a California lawmaker (D-San Jose), has proposed that households with a net worth of more than $1 million be subject to a 1.5% wealth taxes. California has been home to some the most wealthy lawmakers in the nation, so previous attempts at passing such a law have failed.
A former fishing village in China is home to more billionaires that New York
Oxfam, however, has noted that an additional $63 million would be raised if a minimum global tax was applied to multinational corporations. The organization believes this could help fund vital public health services such as the expansion of Medicare and Medicaid. Although the Biden administration supports this idea, all other countries would need to approve it. – a difficult consensus to reach on even the least controversial of matters.
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