Over these same eleven months, 73 million Americans lost jobs, 25 million caught the coronavirus and half a million died from it. Billionaire wealth is up 18-fold over the past 30 years—from $240 billion in 1990 to $4.2 trillion today, according to Forbes data.
March 18 is used as the unofficial beginning of the pandemic because by then most federal and state economic restrictions responding to the virus were in place. March 18 was also the date that Forbes picked to measure billionaire wealth for the 2020 edition of its annual billionaires report, which provided a baseline that ATF and IPS compare periodically with real-time data from the Forbes website. PolitiFact has favorably reviewed this methodology.
10-year Revenue Estimate Explanation
Based on Forbes data, total billionaire fortunes ballooned from an inflation-adjusted total of $1.6 trillion in 2010 to $4.1 trillion at the end of 2020—a 150% increase, or an average annual hike of 15%. Our analysis of the effects of the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act uses a much more conservative growth estimate used by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, who estimated the total revenue raised by the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act. The 10-year revenue estimate assumes taxable wealth will grow at about 4% per year, which are standard assumptions used by the Congressional Budget Office and the Joint Committee on Taxation.
This uniform growth assumption is conservative as the wealth of the rich has grown substantially faster than average in recent decades. Saez and Zucman estimates show that from 1980 to 2016 real wealth of the richest 0.1% grew 5.3% a year on average from 1980 to 2016. This is 2.8 points above the average real wealth growth of 2.5% per year. Average real wealth of the Forbes 400 has grown even faster at 7% per year, 4.5 points above the average. So, it is likely the wealth of the richest Americans will still grow with a wealth tax of 2% for those worth less than $1 billion and 3% for wealth above $1 billion.
See the Americans for Tax Fairness Action Page here, with fact sheets and social media tools.