Bill Gates supports a “more progressive” tax policy on the rich, but he thinks proposals targeting high income brackets, like the policy proposed by freshman liberal Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., are missing the point.
Ocasio-Cortez has pushed raising the top marginal tax rate to 70 percent on income over $10 million. The top marginal rate is currently 37 percent. But Microsoft founder Gates, without mentioning Ocasio-Cortez by name, said this kind of approach is “a misfocus. If you focus on that, you’re missing the picture.”
“In terms of revenue collection, you wouldn’t want to just focus on the ordinary income rate, because people who are wealthy have a rounding error of ordinary income,” Gates, one of the richest people in the world, told The Verge in a new interview. “They have income that just is the value of their stock, which if they don’t sell it, it doesn’t show up as income at all, or if it shows up, it shows over in the capital gains side. So the ability of hedge fund people, various people — they aren’t paying that ordinary income rate.”
Instead, he said lawmakers should focus on things like the estate tax, taxes on capital and Social Security. His view may be more closely aligned with Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s proposed tax policy that focuses on taxing net worth on households worth more than $50 million.
“Now, you finally have some politicians who are so extreme that I’d say, ‘No, that’s even beyond.’ You do start to create tax dodging and disincentives, and an incentive to have the income show up in other countries and things,” Gates said, an apparent reference to Ocasio-Cortez. “We can be more progressive without really threatening income generation — what you have left to decide how to spread around.”
The school of thought has received backing on the left from politicians such as Ocasio-Cortez and her fellow Democratic-socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders, who is likely to run for president in 2020. President Donald Trump has expressed views that align with it, too. “First of all, you never have to default because you print the money. I hate to tell you. So there’s never a default,” he said while campaigning in 2016.
MMT dismisses concerns about sovereign debt since countries that print their own currency can’t really run out of money.
“That is some crazy talk,” Gates told The Verge.
Listen to the full interview at The Verge.