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Taxing Wealth instead of Income

 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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12 October 2020 09:01
 

I went on a solo canoe trip for a couple days, and I was thinking about the issue of wealth disparities.  Capitalism encourages and rewards the ownership of wealth, but this has detrimental effects on the economy.  The poorer the poor get, the more useful they are as cheap labor, but they lose value as consumers.  It treats them as a commodity and not as people.  Capitalism as it is currently imagined doesn’t reward hard work, it rewards ownership.

A wealth tax was proposed during the democratic primary last year, but I think it really deserves some consideration.  I think it might actually be a really good idea to replace income tax with.  Everyone gets to keep all the money they earn.  You only get taxed on it if you hoard that wealth.

The first tax bracket would have to exclude the majority of homes, very small businesses, and family farms.  For example, I would look at what size/value of farm produces an income of say…. $70,000 and whatever the average value of those farms is that would be our starting bracket.  Initial napkin math would suggest around $2-5 million (Farms are expensive, but produce very little income, despite being extremely important to society).  I would add enough savings to provide for retirement as well.  A median house in the US is about $300k, and usually $1 million in savings is sufficient, so again we see that around $2-5 million would be enough for most families and individuals.

The poor obviously would have no tax burden, allowing them the best chance to earn and save in order to reduce their reliance on social programs and provide themselves stability.  We would also have to remove all wealth considerations for social programs (for example right now, if you own a car, most likely you cannot obtain food stamps, the program wants you to sell your car for food first), or basically raise them very, very significantly.

The wealthy would not be prohibited from earning money, only from keeping it.  Buying another house would mean that you increase your yearly tax liability.  Hiring employees would reduce your tax liability, since it is money you aren’t keeping.

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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12 October 2020 09:35
 

We should also find a way to limit the effect of sheer wealth on political position.

 
 
Jan_CAN
 
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Jan_CAN
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12 October 2020 12:16
 

Replace income tax with a wealth tax?  I don’t think this is the best way to address income disparity.  Speaking as a working class person myself (and I can hardly believe I’m about to say this), we (lower/middle class) people are more invested in our society if we pay a fair share of income tax and are making a contribution.  It gives us more of a right to say how government money is spent.  Perhaps some U.S. Democrats are trying to address this issue with an overly simplistic proposal where the best solutions are more complex.

Income taxes should be graduated, with a base income where no taxes are paid up to a much higher level of taxes for the ultra-wealthy.  There could be heavy taxation on certain things (e.g. capital gains on high-end real estate, those private jets, etc.).  There should be an end to tax breaks and loopholes for the rich.  However, care must be taken not to overtax the rich to the extent that they take their businesses elsewhere, though companies like Amazon must be forced to pay their share.  There should be government oversight/regulations in regards to monopolies.  There should be a reasonable minimum wage and support of workers’ rights and unions.  Affordable housing, education and training programs to help the poor enter the middle class, etc., etc. ...

And as far as the political power of the ultra-rich and big business is concerned, disallowing businesses and lobby groups and limiting individual campaign contributions (for example) would go a long way to lessen the undemocratic control exerted by big money in the U.S.

[ Edited: 12 October 2020 12:29 by Jan_CAN]
 
 
weird buffalo
 
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12 October 2020 13:47
 
Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 12:16 PM

Replace income tax with a wealth tax?  I don’t think this is the best way to address income disparity.  Speaking as a working class person myself (and I can hardly believe I’m about to say this), we (lower/middle class) people are more invested in our society if we pay a fair share of income tax and are making a contribution.  It gives us more of a right to say how government money is spent.  Perhaps some U.S. Democrats are trying to address this issue with an overly simplistic proposal where the best solutions are more complex.

I can’t find the study at the moment, but there’s been some analysis on how connected employees feel to the overall work of a business.  I don’t remember the exact cutoff (I think it was something around the 150-250 employee mark), but basically the larger the company the less connected employees felt to what was going on.  If employees at a company with only 1000 employees feel disconnected to a group they are actively contributing to every day…. I fail to see how paying taxes through paycheck deductions or through once-a-year filings is going to create that connection to a group that spans millions of people.  The evidence already shows us that the logic doesn’t hold.

If we equate tax contributions to having a say in the government, we are already advantaging the wealthy people in how the government operates.  If we have to pay taxes in order to have a say, then the amount we pay in taxes must also affect on our say.

Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 12:16 PM

However, care must be taken not to overtax the rich to the extent that they take their businesses elsewhere,

I’m so unafraid of this that it’s hard to describe.  What would happen if Jeff Bezos closed down Amazon and left the US overnight?  Sure, there’d be a rough patch, but all of the infrastructure (the warehouses, roads, robots, where products are made, etc) would still exist.  It’s not like he’s going to physically take all that stuff with him… he literally can’t.  A warehouse is too big and too useless to take to a tropical island.  He could spend money demolishing it, but that would lose him money.  If he wanted to leave, he’d sell all that stuff.  Sure… a large lump sum of cash would leave, but all of the tools to run the economy would still exist.  The government could literally just print some money to replace what he took with him.  So, Bezos’ sells off all the tools to run Amazon… guess what? Someone starts a new website, Famazon, that you can order all the stuff you used to buy from Amazon.  The country would continue on as if Bezos never existed or mattered.  All of the ability to manufacture and ship the products would still exist.  It could be disruptive for a short period of time, while the market readjusts to establish new connections between consumer and manufacturer, but other than a small amount of temporary hardship, there would be zero problems created by Bezos leaving.

The reason a company does business in a place is because it is profitable to do so.  If one company decides it no longer wants to make a profit, someone else will step into their place and do it instead.  The entity most hurt by rich people leaving would be rich people.

It makes as much sense as a student threatening to not turn in their homework unless they get the grade they want.

 
lynmc
 
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12 October 2020 14:09
 

A lot of wealth is in the form of savings.  So taxing it would be double taxation, once when earned and once while its sitting in whatever investment.  Of course, the profits from such savings are already taxed, as are inheritances above a certain amount.  One could reform those kinds of taxation, restore higher capital gains, higher inheritance taxes.  I’m not sure taxing wealth itself is such a good idea, after all, a lot is wealth is in people’s retirements funds.  But certainly a more progressive taxation scheme (including capital gains and inheritance) could be used to help balance wealth & income inequality.

 
Jan_CAN
 
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12 October 2020 14:43
 
weird buffalo - 12 October 2020 01:47 PM
Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 12:16 PM

Replace income tax with a wealth tax?  I don’t think this is the best way to address income disparity.  Speaking as a working class person myself (and I can hardly believe I’m about to say this), we (lower/middle class) people are more invested in our society if we pay a fair share of income tax and are making a contribution.  It gives us more of a right to say how government money is spent.  Perhaps some U.S. Democrats are trying to address this issue with an overly simplistic proposal where the best solutions are more complex.

I can’t find the study at the moment, but there’s been some analysis on how connected employees feel to the overall work of a business.  I don’t remember the exact cutoff (I think it was something around the 150-250 employee mark), but basically the larger the company the less connected employees felt to what was going on.  If employees at a company with only 1000 employees feel disconnected to a group they are actively contributing to every day…. I fail to see how paying taxes through paycheck deductions or through once-a-year filings is going to create that connection to a group that spans millions of people.  The evidence already shows us that the logic doesn’t hold.

If we equate tax contributions to having a say in the government, we are already advantaging the wealthy people in how the government operates.  If we have to pay taxes in order to have a say, then the amount we pay in taxes must also affect on our say.

Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 12:16 PM

However, care must be taken not to overtax the rich to the extent that they take their businesses elsewhere,

I’m so unafraid of this that it’s hard to describe.  What would happen if Jeff Bezos closed down Amazon and left the US overnight?  Sure, there’d be a rough patch, but all of the infrastructure (the warehouses, roads, robots, where products are made, etc) would still exist.  It’s not like he’s going to physically take all that stuff with him… he literally can’t.  A warehouse is too big and too useless to take to a tropical island.  He could spend money demolishing it, but that would lose him money.  If he wanted to leave, he’d sell all that stuff.  Sure… a large lump sum of cash would leave, but all of the tools to run the economy would still exist.  The government could literally just print some money to replace what he took with him.  So, Bezos’ sells off all the tools to run Amazon… guess what? Someone starts a new website, Famazon, that you can order all the stuff you used to buy from Amazon.  The country would continue on as if Bezos never existed or mattered.  All of the ability to manufacture and ship the products would still exist.  It could be disruptive for a short period of time, while the market readjusts to establish new connections between consumer and manufacturer, but other than a small amount of temporary hardship, there would be zero problems created by Bezos leaving.

The reason a company does business in a place is because it is profitable to do so.  If one company decides it no longer wants to make a profit, someone else will step into their place and do it instead.  The entity most hurt by rich people leaving would be rich people.

It makes as much sense as a student threatening to not turn in their homework unless they get the grade they want.

Seeing as you didn’t provide the study to be reviewed for context, and the fact that comparing a workplace to a society is like comparing apples and oranges, I do not accept that the logic of my statements don’t hold. 

Perhaps you’re not afraid when businesses close down, but it’s a lot more than a “rough patch” or “disruptive for a short period of time” for the laid off employees.  And no, warehouses and equipment are usually not just taken up by competitors to carry on.  Town and small city economies are often centred around one or two major employers, for which smaller businesses depend for their consumers.  These types of communities are often overlooked when talking about ‘markets’.

It most certainly is not the rich most hurt when businesses close.  The rich are only the ‘enemy’ if their greed is not controlled.  If they must pay their fair share of taxes and treat their employees fairly, all can prosper.

 

 
 
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12 October 2020 15:05
 
lynmc - 12 October 2020 02:09 PM

A lot of wealth is in the form of savings.  So taxing it would be double taxation, once when earned and once while its sitting in whatever investment.  Of course, the profits from such savings are already taxed, as are inheritances above a certain amount.  One could reform those kinds of taxation, restore higher capital gains, higher inheritance taxes.  I’m not sure taxing wealth itself is such a good idea, after all, a lot is wealth is in people’s retirements funds.  But certainly a more progressive taxation scheme (including capital gains and inheritance) could be used to help balance wealth & income inequality.

Please reread the thread title.

 
weird buffalo
 
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12 October 2020 15:16
 
Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 02:43 PM
weird buffalo - 12 October 2020 01:47 PM
Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 12:16 PM

Replace income tax with a wealth tax?  I don’t think this is the best way to address income disparity.  Speaking as a working class person myself (and I can hardly believe I’m about to say this), we (lower/middle class) people are more invested in our society if we pay a fair share of income tax and are making a contribution.  It gives us more of a right to say how government money is spent.  Perhaps some U.S. Democrats are trying to address this issue with an overly simplistic proposal where the best solutions are more complex.

I can’t find the study at the moment, but there’s been some analysis on how connected employees feel to the overall work of a business.  I don’t remember the exact cutoff (I think it was something around the 150-250 employee mark), but basically the larger the company the less connected employees felt to what was going on.  If employees at a company with only 1000 employees feel disconnected to a group they are actively contributing to every day…. I fail to see how paying taxes through paycheck deductions or through once-a-year filings is going to create that connection to a group that spans millions of people.  The evidence already shows us that the logic doesn’t hold.

If we equate tax contributions to having a say in the government, we are already advantaging the wealthy people in how the government operates.  If we have to pay taxes in order to have a say, then the amount we pay in taxes must also affect on our say.

Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 12:16 PM

However, care must be taken not to overtax the rich to the extent that they take their businesses elsewhere,

I’m so unafraid of this that it’s hard to describe.  What would happen if Jeff Bezos closed down Amazon and left the US overnight?  Sure, there’d be a rough patch, but all of the infrastructure (the warehouses, roads, robots, where products are made, etc) would still exist.  It’s not like he’s going to physically take all that stuff with him… he literally can’t.  A warehouse is too big and too useless to take to a tropical island.  He could spend money demolishing it, but that would lose him money.  If he wanted to leave, he’d sell all that stuff.  Sure… a large lump sum of cash would leave, but all of the tools to run the economy would still exist.  The government could literally just print some money to replace what he took with him.  So, Bezos’ sells off all the tools to run Amazon… guess what? Someone starts a new website, Famazon, that you can order all the stuff you used to buy from Amazon.  The country would continue on as if Bezos never existed or mattered.  All of the ability to manufacture and ship the products would still exist.  It could be disruptive for a short period of time, while the market readjusts to establish new connections between consumer and manufacturer, but other than a small amount of temporary hardship, there would be zero problems created by Bezos leaving.

The reason a company does business in a place is because it is profitable to do so.  If one company decides it no longer wants to make a profit, someone else will step into their place and do it instead.  The entity most hurt by rich people leaving would be rich people.

It makes as much sense as a student threatening to not turn in their homework unless they get the grade they want.

Seeing as you didn’t provide the study to be reviewed for context, and the fact that comparing a workplace to a society is like comparing apples and oranges, I do not accept that the logic of my statements don’t hold. 

Perhaps you’re not afraid when businesses close down, but it’s a lot more than a “rough patch” or “disruptive for a short period of time” for the laid off employees.  And no, warehouses and equipment are usually not just taken up by competitors to carry on.  Town and small city economies are often centred around one or two major employers, for which smaller businesses depend for their consumers.  These types of communities are often overlooked when talking about ‘markets’.

It most certainly is not the rich most hurt when businesses close.  The rich are only the ‘enemy’ if their greed is not controlled.  If they must pay their fair share of taxes and treat their employees fairly, all can prosper.

Considering you presented no evidence to support your statement about paying taxes making people feel like stakeholders, you didn’t start from a place of logic to being with.  You repeated an oft repeated line without establishing it as being valid.

I think you misunderstand what I am talking about in regards to business closure.

Lets first characterize what you are discussing.  A hypothetical example would be a paper mill in a small New Hampshire town.  The town has 500 people, lets say 100 of them work at the paper mill.  The paper mill closes, the town loses lots of jobs.  This is a huge blow to the town.  It represents a massive unemployment and is largely something that town cannot recover from economically without outside help.  Something to consider: who was the primary customer of the paper mill?  It wasn’t the town.

Lets characterize what I am discussing.  New York City has millions of people living and working in it.  Target employs several thousand, lets make it a bunch though, they employ 100,000, out of population of (let’s make it small-ish) 5 million (they employ roughly 0.02% of the total population, or assuming that about 2/3’s of the population works about 0.03% of the workforce).  Target’s customers are the people living in the city.  If Target leaves, that is an increase in unemployment, but it isn’t that massive.  Also, if Target leaves, the customers that provided revenue for Target are still there.  They still have consumer needs and most of the population has money to spend on the stuff they need.  There are now empty stores as well, so Walmart can move in and after a couple months of retrofitting the stores for how Walmart does business… everything is back up and running.

If Amazon leaves the US… all of the customers who were buying things… are still here.  Someone else is going to sell to them.  I buy stuff for my dog all the time, whether it’s food, poop bags, tennis balls, ruckpacks for him to wear, etc… if Amazon decides to not sell me this stuff… I’m still buying it, but just from someone else.  It’s not like if Amazon closes shop my dog stops pooping.  I still need poop bags.

 
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12 October 2020 15:48
 
weird buffalo - 12 October 2020 03:16 PM

Considering you presented no evidence to support your statement about paying taxes making people feel like stakeholders, you didn’t start from a place of logic to being with.  You repeated an oft repeated line without establishing it as being valid.

I think you misunderstand what I am talking about in regards to business closure.

Lets first characterize what you are discussing.  A hypothetical example would be a paper mill in a small New Hampshire town.  The town has 500 people, lets say 100 of them work at the paper mill.  The paper mill closes, the town loses lots of jobs.  This is a huge blow to the town.  It represents a massive unemployment and is largely something that town cannot recover from economically without outside help.  Something to consider: who was the primary customer of the paper mill?  It wasn’t the town.

Lets characterize what I am discussing.  New York City has millions of people living and working in it.  Target employs several thousand, lets make it a bunch though, they employ 100,000, out of population of (let’s make it small-ish) 5 million (they employ roughly 0.02% of the total population, or assuming that about 2/3’s of the population works about 0.03% of the workforce).  Target’s customers are the people living in the city.  If Target leaves, that is an increase in unemployment, but it isn’t that massive.  Also, if Target leaves, the customers that provided revenue for Target are still there.  They still have consumer needs and most of the population has money to spend on the stuff they need.  There are now empty stores as well, so Walmart can move in and after a couple months of retrofitting the stores for how Walmart does business… everything is back up and running.

If Amazon leaves the US… all of the customers who were buying things… are still here.  Someone else is going to sell to them.  I buy stuff for my dog all the time, whether it’s food, poop bags, tennis balls, ruckpacks for him to wear, etc… if Amazon decides to not sell me this stuff… I’m still buying it, but just from someone else.  It’s not like if Amazon closes shop my dog stops pooping.  I still need poop bags.

I don’t have to provide evidence about what I said about paying taxes making people feel invested, etc. – I clearly stated it as a personal opinion.  Such things are difficult to prove anyway.

I was talking about big business in general and certainly don’t want to defend Amazon who haven’t paid their fair share of taxes and has questionable businesses tactics in regards to fair competition.  They are a major employer, but are only sellers and not manufacturers.  So yes, if they closed up, customers would just shop elsewhere.

Yes, you will still need poop bags.  But if the poop bag manufacturer moves to Mexico, so will the jobs.

 

 
 
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12 October 2020 16:50
 
Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 03:48 PM

I don’t have to provide evidence about what I said about paying taxes making people feel invested, etc. – I clearly stated it as a personal opinion.  Such things are difficult to prove anyway.

So essentially your response is that your opinion (informed by nothing) is superior to my opinion (which was informed by evidence that I can’t locate at the moment).  Your appeal to dismiss it using logic is therefore disingenuous.  If you aren’t entering the conversation using evidence and logic, your appeals to logic and evidence as a rebuttal smell like bullshit.

Jan_CAN - 12 October 2020 03:48 PM

I was talking about big business in general and certainly don’t want to defend Amazon who haven’t paid their fair share of taxes and has questionable businesses tactics in regards to fair competition.  They are a major employer, but are only sellers and not manufacturers.  So yes, if they closed up, customers would just shop elsewhere.

Yes, you will still need poop bags.  But if the poop bag manufacturer moves to Mexico, so will the jobs.

Companies already move manufacturing overseas all the time.  Since this is a problem under income tax RIGHT NOW, I fail to see how this is an argument as a hypothetical problem under a wealth tax.  At best you are claiming that a wealth tax won’t solve the issue, but it is not a problem that a wealth tax would create.

I think a wealth tax would actually reduce the problem.  If Joe Moneybags moves a company to Mexico and gets wealthier… a wealth tax increases his tax burden.  It reduces the incentive to move his company.

The problem a wealth tax could create is rich PEOPLE leaving countries.  Not companies (since they already do that).

 
Jan_CAN
 
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12 October 2020 17:01
 

I was interested in a conversation, not an argument.  Bye.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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12 October 2020 18:23
 

You presented your opinion, I responded with my opinion.  You then claimed my opinion was invalid since I didn’t provide evidence.

If you wanted to have a conversation, you would have just engaged with me, and not tried to dismiss my opinion as invalid.  Getting self-righteous when you do something hypocritical is far from impressive.

 
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12 October 2020 19:15
 

A poorly considered idea that’s already been tried. It’s hard to administer and easy to avoid.

 
 
lynmc
 
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12 October 2020 19:23
 
weird buffalo - 12 October 2020 03:05 PM
lynmc - 12 October 2020 02:09 PM

A lot of wealth is in the form of savings.  So taxing it would be double taxation, once when earned and once while its sitting in whatever investment.  Of course, the profits from such savings are already taxed, as are inheritances above a certain amount.  One could reform those kinds of taxation, restore higher capital gains, higher inheritance taxes.  I’m not sure taxing wealth itself is such a good idea, after all, a lot is wealth is in people’s retirements funds.  But certainly a more progressive taxation scheme (including capital gains and inheritance) could be used to help balance wealth & income inequality.

Please reread the thread title.

Why? 

It’s certainly muddied thinking, when you say no income tax, it’s just people can’t keep what they earn.  What, they have to spend it immediately, or it’s taxed at 100%?  If people are taxed on wealth immediately as they turn income into wealth (by e.g. saving it), that’s effectively an income tax anyway except once it’s wealth it gets taxed again, and again, until it’s gone, I guess.

 
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12 October 2020 21:01
 
Antisocialdarwinist - 12 October 2020 07:15 PM

A poorly considered idea that’s already been tried. It’s hard to administer and easy to avoid.

Boat sinks, engineers think we should stop building boats.

 
weird buffalo
 
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12 October 2020 21:04
 
lynmc - 12 October 2020 07:23 PM
weird buffalo - 12 October 2020 03:05 PM
lynmc - 12 October 2020 02:09 PM

A lot of wealth is in the form of savings.  So taxing it would be double taxation, once when earned and once while its sitting in whatever investment.  Of course, the profits from such savings are already taxed, as are inheritances above a certain amount.  One could reform those kinds of taxation, restore higher capital gains, higher inheritance taxes.  I’m not sure taxing wealth itself is such a good idea, after all, a lot is wealth is in people’s retirements funds.  But certainly a more progressive taxation scheme (including capital gains and inheritance) could be used to help balance wealth & income inequality.

Please reread the thread title.

Why? 

It’s certainly muddied thinking, when you say no income tax, it’s just people can’t keep what they earn.  What, they have to spend it immediately, or it’s taxed at 100%?  If people are taxed on wealth immediately as they turn income into wealth (by e.g. saving it), that’s effectively an income tax anyway except once it’s wealth it gets taxed again, and again, until it’s gone, I guess.

Please reread the first post.

Pick a number you think is reasonable.  $2 million?  $10 million?  $100 million?  For the sake of argument, I’ll agree to whatever number you think is reasonable to start at.  We don’t tax wealth below that number.  Why would taxing above (insert number you think is a reasonable amount of wealth) be a bad idea?

We already use what is called a “progressive tax” rate.  This isn’t the same as like a progressive climate policy.  It has nothing to do with political ideology.  It’s progressive because each tax bracket is taxed independently, and as your progress through the tax brackets, your income within that tax bracket is taxed differently.

For example, lets say you make $50,000.  Right now, income at or below $9,700 is taxed at 10%.  So on the first $9,700 you pay $970.  The next tax bracket is $9701-39,475 and is taxed at 12%.  It’s not $39,475 x 0.12… nope, because it’s a progressive system, you pay the 12% on $29,775.  You already paid taxes on the first $9,700, you don’t pay taxes on it again.  The taxes on the $29,775 is $3,573.  That leaves you with the last $10,525 you haven’t paid taxes on yet ($50,000 - 39475).  You pay 22% on that, which is $2,315.5.  So lets take this over to a progressive wealth tax.

Assuming we don’t want to tax people out of reasonable retirement or the ability to sustain a small family business (like a farm), we set the tax rate on (insert number you think is reasonable here) at 0%.  Then we put a tax on all wealth above that rate.

[ Edited: 12 October 2020 21:13 by weird buffalo]
 
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