The new administration could take plenty of steps to address economic disparity.

AuthorPizzigati, Sam
PositionToward a More Equal UNION

How much more equitable can our nation become under President Joe Biden? Maybe more than we might have imagined just a year ago.

"It's time we address the structural inequalities in our economy that the pandemic has laid bare," Biden said as he introduced his economic team on December 1.

The new President comes into office with a well spring of public support for taking on plutocratic privilege. Many of the nations wealthiest people haven't just dodged the coronavirus bullet. They've vastly increased their personal fortunes during the crisis-and most Americans know it.

In the nine months after COVID-19 shut down normal life, the collective wealth of 651 U.S. billionaires soared by more than $1 trillion, a 36 percent leap, according to Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies. That $1 trillion boost in billionaire fortunes would be enough to underwrite $3,000 stimulus checks for every one of America's roughly 330 million people.

Meanwhile, the national poverty rate has registered the single largest annual jump in at least the past sixty years, almost double the previous record hike.

Even with Georgia voting to give the Democrats a functional Senate majority, Biden will not have an easy time advancing the bolder planks in his campaign platform. No bill that backs his proposal to tax millionaire capital gains at the same rates as wage income, for instance, has a shot at passing in the 117th Congress. Nor does any move to eliminate the "step-up" loophole that lets heirs to grand fortunes pocket every dollar, untaxed, of the unrealized capital gains they inherit, as Biden has also advocated.

But the first President from the First State could still have a big impact on inequality, starting with tax law reform.

Most of the income our wealthiest Americans collect-everything from the profits on their wheeling and dealing to the dividends they harvest-faces no automatic withholding. That allows for income-underreporting. In 2020, the Internal Revenue Service will fail to collect an estimated $600 billion in taxes due, with the rich "disproportionately responsible" for this gap, finds a new Tax Notes federal analysis. Unpaid taxes now total more than all the income taxes paid by the bottom 90 percent of American taxpayers.

Under a new administration, the IRS could subject the tax returns of Americas wealthiest people to more careful scrutiny. Over recent years, the opposite has happened. The IRS has essentially stopped auditing...

To continue reading

Request your trial

VLEX uses login cookies to provide you with a better browsing experience. If you click on 'Accept' or continue browsing this site we consider that you accept our cookie policy. ACCEPT