The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release
Contact: Sam Quigley,,

Patriotic Millionaires Urge Congress to Tax the Rich, Not the Unemployed

"Taxing UI benefits directly contradicts the stated goal of expanding those benefits - getting more money into the hands of people who need it."


This week, House Democrats led by Representative Cindy Axne penned a letter to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi urging House leadership to exempt past and future unemployment compensation and stimulus relief checks from income tax. The Patriotic Millionaires stand behind this, and any other efforts, to exempt federal beneficiaries from being subjected to taxation on their aid.

In response, Morris Pearl, the Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, former managing director of BlackRock, Inc., and author of the upcoming book Tax the Rich,issued the following statement:

"It's nonsensical to tax the relief sent to unemployment recipients during a normal year, but it is ridiculous to continue to tax the most economically vulnerable members of our country during a tumultuous year where over 40 million Americans qualified for unemployment.

The expanded unemployment benefits provided by the CARES package were a crucial lifeline that allowed millions of Americans who lost their jobs to stay in their homes and keep food on the table throughout the worst of the pandemic. A surprise tax bill from the IRS for hundreds of dollars could destabilize many of these individuals who are still struggling to get back on track in an economy that has yet to fully recover. Taxing unemployment insurance benefits directly contradicts the stated goal of expanding those benefits - getting more money into the hands of people who need it. This should be a no-brainer.

This crisis is not over. We should not tax economically disadvantaged Americans on their relief money while wealthy individuals and corporations get away with paying mere pennies or nothing on tax day. We urge Congress to immediately change the law, to start taxing wealthy folks like us and help the people who are unable to work because of the pandemic pay their bills. We should be taxing the rich, not the unemployed.

The Patriotic Millionaires is a group of high-net worth Americans who share a profound concern about the destabilizing level of inequality in America. Our work centers on the two things that matter most in a capitalist democracy: power and money. Our goal is to ensure that the country's political economy is structured to meet the needs of regular Americans, rather than just millionaires. We focus on three "first" principles: a highly progressive tax system, a livable minimum wage, and equal political representation for all citizens.

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