personal finance

Elizabeth Warren makes fresh push for wealth tax – 'Yes, Jeff Bezos, I'm looking at you'

Sen. Elizabeth Warren on Wednesday reignited her push for a tax on the wealth of the richest Americans and called out billionaire Amazon founder and space-tourism magnate Jeff Bezos for what she views as his failure to pay his fair share.

Jeff Bezos speaks about his flight on Blue Origin’s New Shepard into space during a press conference on July 20, 2021 in Van Horn, Texas.

Joe Raedle | Getty Images

“I want to see us tax wealth, however your wealth is tied up. It shouldn’t make a difference whether you have real estate, or whether you have cash or whether you have a bazillion shares of Amazon. Yes, Jeff Bezos, I’m looking at you,” the Massachusetts Democrat said on CNBC’s “Squawk Box.”

“Whatever form you have your assets — diamonds, yachts, paintings — I think there ought to be a tax on that annually,” she added.

Bezos is the wealthiest person on Earth with a net worth of $207.7 billion, according to Forbes.

Amazon didn’t immediately respond to a CNBC request for comment on behalf of Bezos.

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A wealth tax, one of the most hotly debated tax proposals, has grown in popularity with populist and progressive politicians as a means to combat economic inequality.

During her 2020 presidential campaign, Warren proposed a 2% annual “ultra-millionaire tax” on net worth over $50 million and 6% on fortunes of more than $1 billion. The revenues generated from such a tax — $2.7 trillion over a decade, according to the Wharton School — would have been deployed to improve health care, child care, housing and education programs.

Warren mentioned Bezos multiple times during her interview, arguing that he and others have unfairly avoided paying into the U.S. tax system thanks to low annual book income and borrowing against his most valuable asset — his Amazon stock holdings.

“Jeff Bezos has not paid taxes on the wealth that he has,” she said. He is worth “a bazillion dollars. He has not paid taxes on all of that wealth. … In fact, Jeff Bezos, many years, has either paid nothing in taxes or has paid 1%.”

Her barbs at Bezos came just over a week after the e-commerce tycoon rocketed to the edge of space with his space-tourism company, Blue Origin.

“For every Amazon customer out there and every Amazon employee, thank you from the bottom of my heart very much. It’s very appreciated,” Bezos said after his flight.

The tourism market is a sliver of an estimated $420 billion space economy

The launch marked Blue Origin’s entrance into the market of private spaceflight, joining Richard Branson’s Virgin Galactic — its direct competitor in the sector of suborbital tourism — and Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

In the interview, Warren also said she’s skeptical that bitcoin will prove to be a reliable hedge against inflation over the long run, a key reason some investors choose to own it.


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