U.S. billionaires have seen their collective fortunes surge by more than $2 trillion since the enactment of the 2017 Trump-GOP tax cuts, according to a new analysis released Thursday as Republicans work to extend the law's expiring provisions.
Using Forbes wealth data, the progressive advocacy group Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) calculated that the combined wealth of the nation's 748 billionaires exceeded $5 trillion this month—up 77%, or $2.2 trillion, since the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act took effect in 2017.
Tesla CEO Elon Musk saw the biggest wealth increase of all U.S. billionaires, surging from $20.4 billion in December 2017 to nearly $270 billion in September 2023—a 1,222.8% boost.
Amazon executive chairman Jeff Bezos, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates, and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg also enjoyed massive net worth spikes.
"The staggering runup of billionaire wealth since the passage of the Trump-GOP tax law is a sure indicator of who that law was meant to serve—and who it would go on serving if Republicans succeed in their plan to make its expiring provisions permanent," said David Kass, ATF's executive director. "Instead of extending tax breaks for billionaires, Congress should be working to better tax them through President Biden's Billionaire Minimum Income Tax and other reforms in how we tax the super-wealthy."
ATF notes that under current U.S. law, much of the boon billionaires have seen over the past six years won't be taxed, given that much of their wealth is held in stocks.
"Investment gains are only taxed when the underlying asset is sold," ATF noted, "but billionaires and other hyper-wealthy people don't need to sell in order to benefit: they can obtain low-interest loans against their rising fortunes and live luxuriously tax-free . And when the gains are handed down to the next generation, they completely disappear for tax purposes ."
Far from distancing themselves from the unpopular 2017 law—which slashed individual and corporate tax rates—congressional Republicans have doubled down in recent months, making clear that they want to permanently extend provisions of the law that disproportionately benefited the wealthiest Americans.
In June, House Republicans unveiled a trio of bills that would deliver $28.4 billion in tax cuts to the top 1% next year alone.
The Congressional Budget Office
earlier this year that extending the 2017 tax cuts would add $3.5 trillion to the deficit over the next decade.
"Worse than the Republicans' desire to give their political donors huge tax cuts is that they want hard-working Americans to pay for them through reduced public services," ATF said Thursday, noting that U.S. billionaires' $2.2 trillion wealth surge would be "more than enough" to fund a 10-year expansion of the boosted child tax credit.