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Bernie Sanders Wants to Raise Top Estate Tax Rate to 77%

Unveils legislation that would also expand the estate tax
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 31, 2019 1:32 PM CST
Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., reacts to a question from a reporter as he speaks at a news conference on Capitol Hill in Washington, Wednesday, Jan. 30, 2019.   (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

(Newser) – Bernie Sanders wants to increase the top estate tax rate in the US to 77%. The senator, who is considering running for president again in 2020, unveiled legislation Thursday that would both expand and increase the estate tax, raising trillions. From Bloomberg, Business Insider, and the Hill:

  • Currently, the estate tax doesn't kick in until an estate is worth more than $11.2 million. Under Sanders' plan, it would apply starting with estates worth $3.5 million. The tax comes into play when a deceased person passes on the estate to heirs.
  • The current estate tax rate is 40%; under Sanders' plan, estates between $3.5 million and $10 million would be taxed at a rate of 45%. Then 50% up to $50 million, 55% up to $1 billion, and 77% for estates worth more than $1 billion.
  • The bill would also close various loopholes and tax breaks that can be used to minimize wealthy Americans' tax bills.

Sanders said in a statement that the bill, which he's calling the "For the 99.8% Act," would only impact the wealthiest 0.2% of Americans, and would raise up to $2.2 trillion from just the families of the 588 US billionaires whose combined net worth is more than $3 trillion. "Our bill does what the American people want by substantially increasing the estate tax on the wealthiest families in this country and dramatically reducing wealth inequality," he said. "From a moral, economic, and political perspective our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little." He added that the top estate tax rate was 77% from 1941 to 1976. Days prior to his plan's unveiling, Senate Republicans introduced a bill to repeal the estate tax entirely. (Read more Bernie Sanders stories.)

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