Bulletin
Investor Alert

Capitol Report Archives | Email alerts

Sept. 14, 2019, 9:45 a.m. EDT

Here’s how Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax could hit the fortunes of Bezos, Gates and Buffett

Democratic White House contender’s plan would help fund student-loan forgiveness

new
Watchlist Relevance
LEARN MORE

Want to see how this story relates to your watchlist?

Just add items to create a watchlist now:

  • X
    Amazon.com Inc. (AMZN)
  • X
    Microsoft Corp. (MSFT)
  • X
    Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Cl A (BRK.A)

or Cancel Already have a watchlist? Log In

By Robert Schroeder, MarketWatch


TOMMASO BODDI/AFP/Getty Images
Jeff Bezos attends the Amazon Emmy Award afterparty at Sunset Tower, in West Hollywood, Calif., on Sept. 18, 2016.

Some of the richest businesspeople in the U.S. could be much less rich today if Elizabeth Warren’s wealth tax had been in place.

How much? Amazon /zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite AMZN -1.68%   founder and Chief Executive Jeff Bezos’ fortune would be about $87 billion versus the $160 billion it was estimated at last year. Microsoft /zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite MSFT -1.63%    founder Bill Gates would have seen his wealth cut to $36 billion from $97 billion. And Berkshire Hathaway’s /zigman2/quotes/208872451/composite BRK.A +0.02%   /zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite BRK.B +0.07%   Warren Buffett would be sitting on about $27 billion instead of $88 billion.

Those figures assume a wealth tax going back to 1982, and come from a paper authored by two economists who helped to write Warren’s own plan . It’s one of several proposals that may be in the spotlight when the Massachusetts senator debates nine fellow Democratic presidential contenders on Thursday in Houston.

Also see: Here’s who America’s CEOs are backing in the Democratic presidential race.

Warren, currently holding the No.2 spot behind Joe Biden in an average of presidential polls, has proposed an annual 2% tax on every dollar of net worth above $50 million, and a 3% tax on each dollar of net worth above $1 billion.

Warren has said her wealth-tax plan would raise money to fund her proposals such as universal free public college and canceling student debt.

Now read: Elizabeth Warren wants to wipe away $640 billion in student debt — with a tax on the rich.

The paper, by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley, finds that the top 15 wealthiest Americans as estimated by Forbes magazine would collectively have seen their net worth drop to just under $434 billion had Warren’s plan been in effect since 1982. That’s down from about $942 billion.

Facebook /zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite FB -2.38%   founder Mark Zuckerberg and Oracle /zigman2/quotes/202180826/composite ORCL -0.93%   chairman Larry Ellison are Nos. 4 and 5 on the list.

Buffett, for one, has argued for higher taxes on the wealthy. Meanwhile, groups like the Tax Foundation have said it’s unclear if Warren’s proposal is constitutional . She has cited scholars who say it is .

/zigman2/quotes/210331248/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 1,757.51
-29.97 -1.68%
Volume: 3.37M
Oct. 18, 2019 4:00p
P/E Ratio
72.92
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$869.36 billion
Rev. per Employee
$359,671
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/207732364/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 137.41
-2.28 -1.63%
Volume: 32.28M
Oct. 18, 2019 4:00p
P/E Ratio
27.10
Dividend Yield
1.48%
Market Cap
$1049.18 billion
Rev. per Employee
$902,473
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/208872451/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 313,270
+70.00 +0.02%
Volume: 182.00
Oct. 18, 2019 6:30p
P/E Ratio
17.77
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$511.95 billion
Rev. per Employee
$637,113
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/200060694/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 208.76
+0.14 +0.07%
Volume: 3.58M
Oct. 18, 2019 6:30p
P/E Ratio
17.75
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$511.74 billion
Rev. per Employee
$637,113
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/205064656/composite
US : U.S.: Nasdaq
$ 185.85
-4.54 -2.38%
Volume: 16.88M
Oct. 18, 2019 4:00p
P/E Ratio
31.49
Dividend Yield
N/A
Market Cap
$530.22 billion
Rev. per Employee
$1.57M
loading...
/zigman2/quotes/202180826/composite
US : U.S.: NYSE
$ 54.55
-0.51 -0.93%
Volume: 12.56M
Oct. 18, 2019 6:30p
P/E Ratio
17.79
Dividend Yield
1.76%
Market Cap
$179.06 billion
Rev. per Employee
$289,197
loading...

Robert Schroeder is the White House reporter for MarketWatch. Follow him on Twitter @mktwrobs.

This Story has 0 Comments
Be the first to comment
More News In
Economy & Politics

Story Conversation

Commenting FAQs »
Link to MarketWatch's Slice.