Elizabeth Warren on Tax Reform

Massachusetts Senator; head of CFPB


Comparison of Trump wealth tax to Warren wealth tax

Sen. Elizabeth Warren wasn't the first major American politician to put the idea of a tax on large fortunes. Trump's plan, as articulated during a 1999 flirtation with a Reform Party presidential bid, differed from Warren's in three important respects:
  1. He wanted the tax to be a one-time levy that would reduce the national debt and therefore reduce interest service payments. Warren's plan would simply levy a smaller tax each year.
  2. He wanted a fairly hefty rate--14.5%. Warren's rate structure is much lower than that.
  3. He set the threshold for his tax lower. While Warren wants to tax fortunes worth more than $50 million, Trump proposed taxing wealth starting at $10 million. This was in 1999; in inflation-adjusted dollars, that's $15 million.
Warren has a progressive rate structure: Assets worth between $50 million and $1 billion would be taxed at 2%, and assets above $1 billion taxed at 3% tax. Trump's tax is flat but starts lower.
Source: Vox.com analysis of 2020 presidential hopefuls , Jan 31, 2019

2% wealth tax on assets over $50M; 3% over $1B

The wealth tax proposed by Sen. Elizabeth Warren: a 2% wealth tax that Warren would levy on the total assets of individuals worth more than $50 million and 3% on individuals with more than $1 billion. Per a Forbes analysis, this means that Jeff Bezos, whose $137 billion fortune makes him the richest man in the world, would owe the IRS an additional $4.1 billion each year.
Source: Washington Examiner on 2020 Presidential Hopefuls , Jan 29, 2019

Reagan tax cuts reduces revenue and increase national debt

Tax cuts were a key ingredient in the magic trickle-down formula. And in 1981, President Ronald Reagan was sworn into office and became the chief wizard. Picture Reagan and a bunch of other old guys waving magic wands. With each wave of the wand, corporations (and millionaires) could keep more of their money, and then--here come the magic part--everyone else would be richer, too!

True, there were a few Debbie Downers raining on the magical parade. Reagan's own vice president, George H. W. Bush, once labeled it "voodoo economics." Others worried that those tax cuts wouldn't make anyone richer except the rich people who pocketed more money.

Eventually, study after careful study showed that Reagan's tax cuts did exactly what a lot of people had expected they would: they reduced government revenues and increased the national debt. But Reagan and all his economic advisers kept selling their wacky idea, and eventually tax cuts became the new religion.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p.113-4 , Apr 18, 2017

Demand the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes

We will make this economy work for everyone--not just for the top 10%, but for everyone. This isn't about "messaging." It's about understanding at a deep-down level what most of America lives every day: This government doesn't work for them. This government works for the rich and the powerful, and it is leaving everyone else behind.

The question is simple: How do we build and America that works for all of us? The answer is right in front of us: We built it once, and we can build it again. This is what big majorities of Americans--Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, and vegetarians--believe.

And how do we pay for all those things? Again, a pretty solid majority of America agrees: start by raising taxes for those at the top. Currently, 61% of us believe that the wealthiest Americans don't pay their fair share in taxes, and 63% favor eliminating tax deductions and loopholes for the very rich.

Source: This Fight is Our Fight, by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, p.251-6 , Apr 18, 2017

Who pays? Everyone, or just the little guys?

Some business owners were ready to support me. But others would say something like "I usually vote Republican because Republicans are pro-business."

And I'd always get straight to the point: "Do you worry about how much you pay in taxes?"


"So how much money do you have stashed away in bank accounts in the Cayman Islands? How much intellectual property have you transferred to a foreign tax haven? How much of your income is shielded with depletion allowances?"

You can guess the response: None. None. None. Then I would talk with these business owners about the ongoing battle over tax policy in America. A lot of it is couched in "big government vs. little government" or "pro-business vs. anti-business." But I think most of that is a deliberate distraction so people don't see the real battle. The critical question is: Who pays? Does everyone pay, or just the little guys?

Source: A Fighting Chance, by Elizabeth Warren, p.247 , Apr 22, 2014

Stop protecting loopholes for millionaires

Warren pointed to a series of Brown votes in the Senate that she said show he sided with big oil companies and held tax cuts for the middle class hostage to give tax cuts to millionaires. "Sen. Brown is out there protecting every loophole," she said.

Brown responded that Warren supports higher taxes, and also said putting more financial pressure on oil companies could raise prices at the pump. "I am on the taxpayer's side," he said, noting that it's now costing him $70 to fill up his pick-up truck.

Source: North Adams Transcript on 2012 Mass. Senate debate , Sep 21, 2012

End tax breaks to the already-rich and already-powerful

Now is the time to rebuild America's middle class. Instead of giving tax breaks to the already-rich and already-powerful, to the corporations and CEOs who have already made it, it's time America recognized the working people and small businesses who are still trying to build a future.

Our self-employed and small businesses, and the community banks that fund them, are drowning in complicated regulations. Long, complex rules create loopholes that the big companies can take advantage of, but they leave little guys out in the cold. We need rules that are written with small businesses in mind. We need straightforward rules that any small business can deal with, like the short and streamlined mortgage form the consumer agency is putting into law.

Source: 2012 Senate campaign website, elizabethwarren.com,"Issues" , Jan 18, 2012

Supports increasing tax rates.

Warren supports the CC Voters Guide question on tax rates

Christian Coalition publishes a number of special voter educational materials including the Christian Coalition Voter Guides, which provide voters with critical information about where candidates stand on important faith and family issues. The Christian Coalition Voters Guide summarizes candidate stances on the following topic: "Increasing federal income tax rates"

Source: Christian Coalition Voter Guide 12-CC-q11a on Oct 31, 2012

Other candidates on Tax Reform: Elizabeth Warren on other issues:
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Page last updated: Mar 16, 2019