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Soak the rich to your heart’s content with this interactive wealth tax calculator

This nifty tool developed by Vox and People’s Policy Project leaves you in charge of designing a policy to close the prosperity gap in America.

Soak the rich to your heart’s content with this interactive wealth tax calculator
[Source Image: Quarta/iStock]

In the United States, the rich are very, very rich, and those without money are really struggling. In fact, since the 1980s, the average American family has actually lost wealth, while the most prosperous .1% of the country has seen their net wealth increase an enormous 133%.

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This gulf between the rich and everyone else in America has been widening for long enough that some Democratic policymakers are now trying to do something to correct it. One example: Senator Elizabeth Warren recently proposed a wealth tax on the accumulated fortunes of the very rich. Her policy would levy a 2% tax on wealth stores over $50 million and 3% on those over $1 billion. In 10 years, the tax could raise around $2.75 trillion from around 75,000 households (less than .1% of all households in the country). This is a different policy from simply increasing the top marginal income tax rate, as Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez recently proposed. This would tax all assets: stocks, real estate, and income.

[Screenshot: Vox]
According to polling done by the Morning Consult, Warren’s tax plan is extremely popular: 61% of all voters (including 50% of conservatives) support the idea. Vox speculates that Warren, now a 2020 presidential contender, won’t be alone in pushing for higher taxes on the very rich.

With all this (long overdue) fervor around wealth taxes picking up, Vox does not want you to be left out of the fun.

Using data from the People’s Policy Project, a progressive think tank that compiled a data set estimating the wealth of Americans in 2016, Vox created a template enabling you to create your own tax on the rich. It’s very simple: You select the threshold over which wealth would be taxed (ranging from $5 million to $2 billion), and what rate, up to 5%, it should be taxed at. The calculator even accounts for the reality that many rich people will try to evade said taxes either by storing assets offshore or just avoiding them. Economists estimate the avoidance rate is around 15%, but you can assign your faith in the wealthy anywhere along the spectrum of 0% to 30%.

You can try the tool out for yourself here.

To ground the results of your proposed tax plan in reality, Vox calculates exactly how much revenue it would raise, and what percent of programs like food stamps, Medicaid, and defense it could fund. It also shows how much of the cost of progressive proposals like Bernie Sanders’ idea for free public college tuition, or child tax credits to alleviate poverty, would be covered by your tax.

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About the author

Eillie Anzilotti is an assistant editor for Fast Company's Ideas section, covering sustainability, social good, and alternative economies. Previously, she wrote for CityLab.

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