Biden, Sanders

U.S. President Joe Biden and Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee Chair Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) deliver remarks in the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on April 3, 2024 in Washington, D.C.

(Photo: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Sanders, Omar Lead Call for Biden to Back Global Tax on the Rich

"This is a historic opportunity for the United States to provide global leadership on tax fairness and also strengthen the administration's vital domestic efforts to achieve a fairer tax system."

U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ilhan Omar on Tuesday led a letter calling on President Joe Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen "to support an important initiative at the G20 to foster international cooperation on taxation of ultrawealthy individuals."

"This is a historic opportunity for the United States to provide global leadership on tax fairness and also strengthen the administration's vital domestic efforts to achieve a fairer tax system," wrote Sanders (I-Vt.) and Omar (D-Minn.), who were joined by 16 Democrats in Congress.

When Biden released his 2025 budget blueprint in March, the White House called for tackling "unfair aspects of our tax system," including by "reforming the international tax system to reduce the incentives to book profits in low-tax jurisdictions" and imposing at 25% minimum tax on Americans with wealth of more than $100 million.

The lawmakers wrote on Tuesday that "we agree with you that it is time for the very wealthiest to pay their fair share," noting research that shows the richest billionaires pay an effective income tax rate of 8.2% in the United States and as little as 2% in other countries.

"Every tax dollar not paid by a billionaire could have been used to invest in our communities, address climate change, and support public goods—from education to healthcare to infrastructure—that are critical to prosperity and a strong economy," they stressed, endorsing proposals from Biden and U.S. lawmakers "to build a more just tax system."

As the letter to Biden and Yellen details:

This year Brazil, which holds the G20 presidency, is calling for action on the taxation of wealthy individuals. They aim for increased cooperation between G20 countries to support tax progressivity and ensure the world's richest people pay their fair share. This could involve coordinated standards, information sharing, or a global minimum floor for taxation of the wealthy that could in theory be satisfied by many of the leading proposals to raise taxes on the ultrarich, including the billionaire minimum income tax. We have seen how international cooperation on taxation can deliver meaningful advances, as demonstrated by the landmark 2021 agreement by more than 130 countries to create a global tax framework on corporate taxation. This is a chance to build on what was learned and deliver better results by working together, but with a focus on individuals instead of corporations.

In April, as Common Dreamsreported at the time, Fernando Haddad, Brazil's finance minister, joined with government leaders from Germany, South Africa, and Spain to advocate for a 2% wealth tax targeting the world's billionaires to "invest in public goods such as health, education, the environment, and infrastructure."

"The argument behind such tax is straightforward: We need to enhance the ability of our tax systems to fulfill the principle of fairness, such that contributions are in line with the capacity to pay," the ministers explained. "Persisting loopholes in the system imply that high-net-worth individuals can minimize their income taxes."

Sanders, Omar, and their congressional colleagues argued to Biden and Yellen that "Brazil's G20 initiative is in the strategic interest of the United States."

International cooperation will strengthen domestic efforts to tax the wealthiest, including those that you and many of us in Congress have championed," the letter states. "We encourage your administration to join others in pledging support for this effort, and to help lead the G20 to a historic agreement that will secure a more equitable U.S. and global economy."

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