Wealth tax called for by Davos elites

Already in other countries, it might be a few years before a wealth tax reaches the USA:

Reuters: Millionaires group calls for wealth tax at virtual Davos

Note that the following countries already levy a wealth tax:

  • Spain
  • Norway
  • Switzerland
  • Belgium
  • Argentina
  • Netherlands
  • Italy
  • Colombia


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Depending on implementation, I’d have no problem with it.

My issue with the implementation is that in other countries, the lowest tier start at very low levels of wealth, many below $100k net worth. That’s very much middle class families. For me, that’s not wealthy enough to justify imposing an extra tax.

But something floated around for the US where you’d have tiers starting at $50M net worth, I could get behind. Also depends on what assets are considered as part of the wealth being taxed.

That said, I think the billionaires in Davos find it very safe to issue statements like this because a lot of them know there will always be fiscal havens for them to park their wealth. It feels a bit like a “Look, we’re doing all we can to pay our fair share. But nobody listens to us and wants to tax us more. Woe is us.”


Which is how most people feel if it doesn’t take money out of their pocket. They will eventually run out of people that you consider wealthy.

I think the better solution is that they learn to live, like most Americans, within a budget. I think this would be much easier to achieve if spending bills were voted on line by line. No more “we have to pass it to see what’s in it” garbage.

I know, it’s impossible, but at least members of Congress could actually read the bills they’re voting on … at least those than can read. :smile:


I still think we could relatively objectively draw a line between wealthy and those who are not. For me a test could be: do your assets allow you to live comfortably without working if you so chose?

Congress is never gonna stick to a budget IMO. It’s not a matter of learning to live within a budget, more a case of wanting to have your cake and eat it too. And neither Democrats nor Republicans are capable of doing away with that temptation. Both want (via different systems) a level of government spending which is systemically higher than the tax revenues and neither has any cushion for crisis spending. We never build up surplus for emergencies like any family budget should do. So each crisis no matter small is financed by extra deficit.

IMO the only solution involves a change in political system to one where decisions which inflict short-term hardship but have beneficial long-term impacts (like entitlement reform) can be taken without as much concern for electability. Strict and short term limits for all government positions, especially Congress could go some ways towards achieving this.

Always love the “I’m cool with it as long as it doesn’t affect me” takes. Keep 'em coming!


Personally, I like the idea of starting somewhat low like 100k ( excluding home equity as that already has property taxes ). Make the tax rate really low like 0.1% or 0.05%. This would only be a $50 or $100 tax on someone with a 100k net worth. So not that impactful, but will make people think about how they really feel about an annual tax on assets vs. income. See how that floats with your constituents.
Just like affordable housing, lots of people are in favor of it until it is built in their neighborhood.

Do you think Nancy Pelosi would answer that the same as your parents, or you, or most people outside of the ruling class?

So instead of demanding that they do, we should keep giving them more money?

While I don’t disagree with your statement, do you think that rewarding them by giving them more money will dissuade them from continuing to outspend revenue?

I suspect that you have fewer decades than I of seeing politicians come up with new ways to grab money, new names to call taxes, or new promises to save money and reduce waste and fraud. The VAST majority are full of beans.

And there is the perfect definition of the camel’s nose in the tent. :slight_smile:


I’d love to mandate them constitutionally that they do. But every time we run out of money, something is too big to fail. We spend first and then worry about paying for it later. The debt ceiling stuff is a good example. By the time we need to raise it (or face doom scenarii), the money has long been spent so there’s effectively not much choice. There should be safeguard for spending in the first place like you have on a family budget.

But politicians from both sides get away with it routinely because voters don’t seem to care. When has fiscal irresponsibility been punished at the polls (or vice versa fiscal responsibility been rewarded)? I’m not old enough to remember such times unfortunately…

I’m fine with it even if I have to pay some. Having mid-7-figure net worth, even if I’m not feeling particularly wealthy, I’m FIRE so I’d not be surprised or angered to be taxed by it.

Problem I have with that is there are already low incentive for people to save money for retirement, college, healthcare, etc. If you add a tax on low levels of wealth, you’d further discourage saving. And even if it’s small, you won’t get buy in from a majority of the country if people with $50k in their IRAs or home equity start feeling the effect of another tax when they are barely scrapping by.

And why would you exclude real estate assets? Property taxes are tied to the home values regardless of how much of the property you own. And real estate is an investment like any other. Ask Trump if that’s not good enough to make you wealthy. Rich people constantly borrow against that real estate equity to fund lifestyles. There are also capital gains taxes already. Should we exclude stocks for wealth because gains are taxed already? Assets being taxed otherwise shouldn’t be a litmus test of whether something should be included in wealth tax. Wealth is wealth.

My suggestion was that the exclusion would only apply to your primary residence ( which is treated favorably often by tax laws ). There could be exclusion amounts as well for the other assets that are encouraged as well ( retirement, 529s, HSAs ). Promote good behaviors instead of bailing out bad behaviors ( which it seems our government prefers, but that is another topic ). I just don’t like the abstraction from taxes of such a large group ( a $50 million wealth tax excludes 99+% of people ). Income tax is already becoming very close to something that <50% of people pay. If you don’t see any direct cost ( the other guys are paying for it ), free daycare…sure, free college…sure, free universal income…sure, why not? Problem is, if Jeff Bezos entire net worth is distributed to the US population, it would be less than $500 per person. You run out of billionares/multi-millionares pretty quick.

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Truth of the matter is the wealth taxes around the world don’t contribute that much anyway. Anyone promoting it as something that will solve our budget deficits is just selling snake oil.

Table with share of tax revenues coming from wealth tax in 2018

And among these countries are many where the wealth tax hits very modest asset levels. Still, short of consumption tax, there’s not much else out there as tax scheme to tax more fairly people living on money borrowed against assets that never realize gains.

P.S.: my reluctance about excluding some forms of wealth is that the carve out always end up as exploited loopholes. It’ll be primary + secondary residence (based on mortgage interest deduction allowances), then IRAs/401k, then HSA and 529 plans. If you remove all, how much do you have left? Personally only about 1/10th of my net worth.

I think not enough voters care. And not wanting to beat a dead horse, but …

  • If you told your kids to do something (clean room, do homework/chores) and they didn’t do it, would you reward them with an allowance increase, extra TV time, etc?

  • When people commit crimes, do you think they should be rewarded?

  • When training dogs/horses, do you reward them for not doing what you asked?

My point is, rewarding undesired behavior insures repeated undesired behavior. Just because everyone / anyone else is doing it doesn’t make it right. The easiest proof is to use the dog/horse example (quickest ROI). Reward them with praise/toy/food when they do things you don’t want them to do and see how much more they do it.

Please don’t think I’m comparing politicians to dogs/horses. I think way to much of dogs/horses.