NEWS: Sanders, Omar, 16 Colleagues in Senate and House Call on President Biden and Treasury Secretary Yellen to Support a Global Tax on the Ultrawealthy

WASHINGTON, June 11 – Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Congresswoman Ilhan Omar (MN-05), along with 16 of their colleagues in the Senate and House, today urged President Biden and Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen to support Brazil’s historic G20 initiative to establish a global minimum tax on the world’s ultrawealthy. The letter comes ahead of the G20 meetings this July during which Brazil, the current president of the G20, will reportedly push for a joint declaration on the initiative. The proposal has already gained provisional support from leading economists, global civil leaders, and a number of countries, including France.

“We write to urge your administration to support an important initiative at the G20 to foster international cooperation on taxation of ultrawealthy individuals,” wrote the members. “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…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.”

In recent decades, the richest 1% of earners in the G20 have seen their top tax rates fall by roughly a third, while their share of national income increased by 45%, according to Oxfam. Over the next decade, countries around the world could lose up to $4.8 trillion in tax revenue due to tax havens, according to a 2023 study by advocacy group Tax Justice Network. Exposés such as the Panama Papers Leak, the Paradise Papers, and ProPublica’s IRS files investigation continue to bring to light the pervasiveness of the ultrawealthy gaming the system, both in the U.S. and across the globe, to avoid paying their fair share in taxes.

“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 health care to infrastructure – that are critical to prosperity and a strong economy,” wrote the members.  

Brazil’s G20 proposal presents an unprecedented opportunity for much-needed international cooperation to address the global failure to tax the ultrawealthy, depriving governments and communities of resources and contributing to extreme concentrations of wealth. This proposal – which focuses on individual taxation – builds on the meaningful advances made by the landmark 2021 agreement by more than 130 countries on a global framework for corporate taxation.

The letter argues that support for the initiative from the Biden Administration would not only strengthen America’s global leadership on any number of intersecting issues, but also help the administration’s domestic efforts to achieve a fairer tax system at home – including Biden’s plan for a 25% minimum income tax on the ultrawealthy.

Sanders and Omar are joined on this letter by Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.), and 13 members in the House. It is endorsed by a number of leading organizations and academics, including: AFL-CIO, Americans for Financial Reform, Americans for Tax Fairness, Community Change, Groundwork Collaborative, Oxfam America, Patriotic Millionaires, Public Citizen, and Take on Wall Street.

Professor Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Economics Prize Laureate, said: “Backing Brazil’s G20 initiative would go a long way to supporting President Biden and Secretary Yellen’s efforts to tax the ultra-rich and reduce today’s extreme levels of inequality. Making sure that billionaires pay their fair share of taxes and setting global minimum standards across countries will make it harder for the ultra-rich to hide their money and enable the U.S. and other countries to raise billions of dollars to combat inequality.”

Read full letter here.