"Millionaires Surtax" Considered as Federal Budget Balancer

Nov 18, 2019

Should rich people pay more taxes? One congressman from Virginia thinks so.

Congressman Don Beyer is a Democrat from Alexandria who says millionaires should be funding a bigger piece of the federal budget. That’s why he’s working with a group of other Democrats in the House on the millionaire’s surtax, a plan that adds a new 10 percentage point tax to incomes of $1 million for individuals or $2 million for couples.

Here’s the congressman explaining it on CNBC. “It’s $635 billion, so it’s only one third of what we’ve given to those folks in the Tax Cut and Jobs Act. So it’s just trying to move in the right direction. It’s also a very small step toward overcoming income and wealth inequality.”

Stephen Farnsworth at the University of Mary Washington says it’s an idea that would battle the trend of recent years of taking on more and more federal debt.  “It’s very irresponsible to come up with year after year more and more debt, particularly when the economy is going full speed ahead as it is at the moment. This is a way to think about how to reduce the deficit, not increase it.”

Unlike the wealth tax, Beyer says, the millionaire's surtax is based on adjusted gross income. He says that’ll would be more difficult for people to game the system and hide their wealth.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.