A weekly newsletter from the Institute for Policy Studies
Households nationwide today are scrambling to file — or extend — their taxes by tomorrow’s Tax Day deadline. That scramble can, of course, go beyond frustrating, the main reason why millions of us have come to rely on for-profit outfits like TurboTax. These outfits, in turn, lobby to keep taxes complicated.
In fact, TurboTax’s parent company, Intuit, spent over $3.5 million on federal lobbying in 2022. By spending big to block an easier tax-filing system, the titans at firms like TurboTax make it harder for working families to access the income supports and tax credits that’d keep more money in their pockets. The payoff for our tax profiteers? Intuit’s CEO took home over $27 million last year.
Millionaires and billionaires, meanwhile, aren’t using services like TurboTax to file their own taxes. They employ instead teams of professionals to exploit every possible loophole, as ProPublica dramatically illustrated earlier this month. We end up with a tax system that has billionaires paying taxes at a lower rate than teachers, nurses, and firefighters.
Tomorrow’s tax-filing deadline makes this week — more than any other week of the year — the perfect time to pressure our elected officials with this simple message: Make the wealthy and corporations pay their fair tax share!
U.S. billionaire wealth, let’s remember, surged by nearly 40 percent after Covid hit. We have the resources out there to build a more equitable nation. We just need the political will to make that equity happen.
Chuck Collins and Rebekah Entralgo,
for the Institute for Policy Studies Inequality.org team
INEQUALITY BY THE NUMBERS
To Fight Inequality, We Need to #TaxThePatriarchy
As a public school teacher, Amy Matsui witnessed firsthand how — in one of the wealthiest countries in the world — children, mothers, and educators lack access to basic supplies and support. This experience helped motivate Matsui to become a lawyer working for economic justice at the National Women’s Law Center. She’s spent over 20 years now tackling tax policy and other crucial economic issues.
For Tax Day on April 18, Matsui and her National Women’s Law Center team have released a new interactive tax calculator that provides examples of how much new revenue we could raise by more seriously taxing the patriarchy — and how that money could be invested in improving the lives of women and families.
“If you care about child care, health care, education, housing, or anything else that requires public investment, then you should care about taxes,” Matsui notes.
Her team’s new calculator tool, Matsui adds, aims “to show the connection between tax policy and our ability as a nation to invest in people in a concrete, simple, and hopefully fun way.” Learn more about Matsui and that tool below.
Reframing the ‘Death Tax Repeal’ for Democracy’s Gain
The GOP’s most cynical, enduring contribution to our unequal status quo? That may well be the party’s rebranding the estate tax as a “Death Tax.” Republican senators have now once again introduced a “Death Tax Repeal Act.” But tax advisor Bob Lord of the Patriotic Millionaires has engaged in a little rebranding of his own. His label for the new Senate bill: the “Billionaires Pay Zero Tax Act.”
Lord, also an Institute for Policy Studies associate fellow, has spent years demystifying the convoluted financial tricks our ultra-wealthy play to avoid the estate tax. Today more than ever, he explains, we need an estate tax strong enough to “safeguard America from the dangers that extreme accumulations of wealth pose to a healthy, functioning democracy.”
We need to ensure, Lord stresses, that our wealthiest pay both income and estate taxes on their investment gains. More on how we can do that below.
Baseball’s Owners Have Games — and Maybe Fan Lives — Shorter
“Take me out to the ball game,” as the lead character in baseball’s fabled 1908 classic puts it, and don’t worry about me getting home. Adds his ancient refrain: “I don’t care if I never get back.”
America’s billionaire baseball owners apparently feel the same way about you. They don’t care if you ever get back home either. How can we be so sure? Just look at how the owners are reacting to the success of Major League Baseball’s new rules to speed up the game. Inequality.org’s Sam Pizzigati has more.
This week on Inequality.org
Helen Flannery, Donor-Advised Funds Now Take in a Fifth of Individual Charitable Giving. Hot takes from the National Philanthropic Trust’s latest report on donor-advised funds, the tax gimmick more commonly known as DAFs.
Bella DeVaan, In New York, the Wrong Workers Get the Biggest Pay Bumps. Last year’s Wall Street bonus pool could have raiseed the state’s minimum wage to $21.25 — and still left over some $24 billion!
Elsewhere on the Web
Tax wealth, tackle inequality, Oxfam America. At a time when the ultrawealthy are amassing historic and dangerous levels of wealth, a federal wealth tax offers a vital and necessary tool for directly redressing extreme wealth inequality, as well as advancing racial justice, tackling the climate crisis, and protecting democracy.
Baxter Oliphant, Top tax frustrations for Americans: The feeling that some corporations, wealthy people don’t pay fair share, Pew Research Center. Some 61 percent of U.S. adults say feel that some corporations aren’t paying their fair share, and that “bothers them a lot.” Nearly the same percentage feel the same way about wealthy people.
Katrina vanden Heuvel, Why Do the Richest Americans Live a Decade Longer Than the Poorest? The Nation. Our shrinking U.S. life expectancy reflects existing socioeconomic inequalities.
Martin Sullivan, Are the Superrich More Burdened and Paying the Highest Rates? Tax Notes. A Wall Street Journal editorial claims America is soaking the affluent. The reality: Americans raking in over $10 million a year have seen their share of total U.S. income rise and their average tax rate shrink.
Richard Chang, How The World’s Billionaires Got So Rich 2023, Forbes. Working in “high finance” remains the surest way to get ultra rich. The sector once again this year has generated the highest number of billionaires, 372, a total that includes hedge fund and private equity tycoons, bankers, and venture capitalists.
Emma Coulter, Film and television that satirize wealth rise in popularity, The Dartmouth. Knives Out, Triangle of Sadness, and The White Lotus are widening the public discussion over wealth’s continuing concentration.
Matthew Cunningham-Cook, Rutgers Puts Wall Street Before Teachers, The Lever. University endowments are subsidizing the lifestyles of some of the wealthiest people on the planet — at the cost of livable wages for the people who teach students.
Kenny Stancil, 'Unsustainable Consumption' by the Rich Is Driving Urban Water Crises: Study, Common Dreams. Stark socioeconomic inequalities have urban elites able to overconsume water while excluding less-privileged populations from basic access.
Paul Kiel, Private Planes and Luxury Yachts Aren’t Just Toys for the Ultrawealthy. They’re Also Huge Tax Breaks, ProPublica. The only thing better than having your own Gulfstream jet? Getting to claim millions in tax deductions for it. Just say you’re using the jet for business.
Jan Weir, Why Buybacks Are a Major Cause of Rising Inequality, Medium. We need to make sure corporate profit gets shared with the workers whose labor produced it.
Chris Lehmann, The Billionaire Gap in American Politics, The Nation. Financiers on the American right marshal money in the relentless pursuit of power, while their left-leaning counterparts spend it on vanity projects.
Lim Tean, Making it easy for the rich does not make the rest of us richer! The Online Citizen. Singapore has rolled out the welcome mat for the world‘s super rich — and the qualty of life for everyone else has sunk.
Billionaire Warren Buffett once famously admitted to paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. How did he do that? Wealthy Americans like Buffett get most of their income from investment profits, and these profits face a far lower rate than salaries and wages. President Biden’s budget proposal aims to raise the tax rate on long-term capital gains and the highest income tiers to the same level: 39.6 percent.
Inequality.org | www.inequality.org | firstname.lastname@example.org
Managing Editor: Rebekah Entralgo
Co-Editors: Sarah Anderson, Chuck Collins, Sam Pizzigati, and Isabella DeVaan
Production: Isabella DeVaan