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These ultra wealthy just made a surprising request to 2020 candidates: tax us more

In an open letter, they have called for a big wealth tax.

Abigail Disney, one of the 19 people to sign the letter, speaks onstage at a Sundance brunch on January 22, 2018, in Park City, Utah.
Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for Refinery29

A group of multimillionaires and billionaires have a message for all presidential candidates: tax the wealthy.

The open letter to “2020 Presidential Candidates,” posted on Medium on Monday and signed by 19 people (including one “Anonymous”), advocates for a wealth tax that would collect money from the richest 0.1 percent of Americans — a group that all signatories happen to be a part of. The letter was signed by some prominent names, including Disney heiress Abigail Disney, Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, investor George Soros, and Blue Haven Initiative co-founders Liesel Pritzker Simmons and Ian Simmons.

The group gives six reasons why a wealth tax should exist: It could raise money to fight climate change, boost economic growth, support investments in public health, reduce the wealth gap, strengthen American democracy, and give the ultra wealthy an opportunity to fulfill their “patriotic” duty.

The signatories write that a “moral, ethical and economic responsibility” exists to impose a wealth tax. And they expressed that they would gladly take on the extra taxes for the sake of the country.

“Those of us in the richest 1/10 of the richest 1% should be proud to pay a bit more of our fortune forward to America’s future,” the letter states. “We’ll be fine — taking on this tax is the least we can do to strengthen the country we love.”

The letter notes that several Democratic candidates already back the idea but singled out Massachusetts Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax plan, which is a centerpiece of her 2020 election campaign. Under Warren’s proposal, a 2 percent wealth tax would be imposed on those who have more than $50 million and a 3 percent wealth tax on those with more than $1 billion. About 75,000 families would pay the tax, and about $2.75 trillion would be generated over 10 years. This money would then be used to fund some of Warren’s other ambitious policies, such as universal child care, free college, and student debt forgiveness.

As the letter notes, the wealth gap has grown to a point where one-tenth of 1 percent of households have as much money as the bottom 90 percent. People recognize the historic growth in wealth for the super rich, which is why 61 percent of voters support Warren’s wealth tax, according to a Morning Consult/Politico poll from February.

The signatories recognize that implementing a wealth tax won’t be easy, especially because many have pointed out that billionaires could simply hide their assets offshore. However, they express their belief that the US would figure out a smooth transition — “effort has always been made when the cause is important enough.”

The letter ends on a plea for the idea: “We ask that you recognize its strong merit and popular support, and advance the idea to tax us a little more.”

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