By M. Francis Mirro
Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr. said, “Taxes are the price we pay to live in a civilized society.” In this sense, every dollar you contribute in taxes is a dollar towards the betterment of civilization.
So you may be surprised to know that over the last few years you have most certainly paid more into that society than the largest company in human history: Amazon. But that’s not too much of an accomplishment; you only needed to contribute about a dollar. That’s because the online giant didn’t pay a cent, just one of many international corporations to do so.
There is a systemic problem in the United States. Those with the most money have a tendency to pay a lower percentage of income (not to mention corporate) than the average middle class American. In fact, in 2018, the working class of America paid more in taxes than the country’s absolute wealthiest, an almost impossible feat of economic backwardness.
For decades, companies and their wealthy owners have been able to manipulate the system, exploit loopholes and tax shelters, and grease every palm possible to hoard wealth away from economic circulation and, like squirrels before the winter, hide every last dollar they can, money that is mathematically impossible to spend in multiple lifetimes unless you’re Donald Trump, while the rest of us fight for what little if left.
The result has been a level of income inequality not seem since the Gilded Age of John D. Rockefeller and Andrew Carnegie, over a century ago.
Elizabeth Warren, one of the two progressive Democratic presidential candidates, has proposed the beginning of a solution: a wealth tax, a long overdue piece of legislation that will mandate every one of the nation’s wealthiest to finally pay their fair share. Warren calls it an “Ultra-Millionaire Tax.”
The tax only applies to any households with a net worth over $50 million, the top 0.1 percent of the population, who would be taxed annually at six percent for every dollar of net income over that mark. The annual rate rises to six percent annually for every household worth over a billion dollars in net assets.
Best of all, this tax applies to all assets of United States corporations, even the ones overseas which are not subject to American taxes as of now, which is why a company like Apple claims they are based on Ireland where the taxes are minimal.
Warren’s tax returns money to the system, money that might as well have been under the Atlantic Ocean, and puts it towards social programs such as health care and vital other needs like infrastructure.
In other words, the wealth tax ensures that taxation works the way it is supposed to, making sure every citizen pays their fair share.
Odds are, if you’re reading this, you will never be subject to the wealth tax, nor are you likely to ever know someone who is. But you can impact the future of this county by voting for an Ultra-Millionaire Tax and demanding that the country most powerful are bound by the same obligations as the rest of us.
This is essential to begin righting the wrongs a generation of corporate control over the United States.