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Progressive Wealth Taxation

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Progressive Wealth Taxation

Brookings Institution,

5 min read
3 take-aways
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What's inside?

Income, property and sales taxes – and in the future, some US residents could face a wealth tax. 

Editorial Rating



  • Controversial
  • Eye Opening
  • Hot Topic


In the run-up to the 2020 election, politicians are proposing sweeping reforms to the US tax code, including a new levy on the asset holdings of the richest people in the country. Advocates point to growing financial inequality as the impetus for a wealth tax. Professors Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman examine how a wealth tax might mitigate inequality and generate government revenue, why it hasn’t worked in the past, and what effect it could have on the US economy. No matter your political or economic bent, you’ll find their thoughtful assessment on this topical issue to be required reading.


Some  politicians argue that a wealth tax could help bridge the US inequality gap.

US income and wealth inequality has skyrocketed over the past decades: From 1980 to 2019, the “share of wealth” of the top 0.1% of the income scale in the United States rose from 10% to nearly 20%, nearing the 25% level of 1929. Many believe that such disparity creates social tension and erodes the economic dynamism of the country. 

An increasing number of politicians are proposing a wealth tax on household assets of more than $50 million. The pool of potentially taxable assets above ...

About the Authors

Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman are professors at the University of California, Berkeley.

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