Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the wealth of U.S. billionaires has increased by nearly $1 trillion. This statistic juxtaposes the wealth of wealthy Americans with the circumstances of millions of working Americans. The recent election of Donald Trump has only exacerbated this rift. This article examines the causes of this trend. We discuss the effects of asset price appreciation on economic growth, taxation of investment gains, and concentration of wealth.
Wealth of U.S. billionaires has surged nearly $1.7 trillion since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic
While almost one million Americans have died as a result of COVID-19 and tens of millions of others have suffered from economic hardships, the situation has been reversed in America’s billionaires’ elites. Since March 10, the total wealth of U.S. billionaires has surged by nearly $1.7 trillion, an increase of more than 15%. In March alone, the number of U.S. billionaires reached seven hundred and forty-four, an increase of 15% from the previous year.
The emergence of the COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the wealth of U.S. billionaires. While the pandemic has affected the lives of most Americans, it has actually benefited the ultra-rich. Billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have seen their wealth skyrocket in response to the pandemic.
The COVID-19 pandemic shattered records by pushing the wealth of the world’s richest people into the stratosphere. This unprecedented wealth jump has caused a massive rise in the net worth of U.S. billionaires. However, this wealth surge has peaked and fallen a bit since the beginning of the pandemic.
The rising value of billionaires’ assets means that most Americans are worrying about their finances. The current law does not tax the income of the richest citizens. But some billionaires aren’t so lucky. They’ve avoided paying taxes by leveraging cheap loans secured against their rising fortunes. The ATF executive director said most families are worried about their finances.
The profits of this massive new business boom could pay for a major COVID relief bill in America. This would mean a tax increase of nearly four hundred and twenty billion dollars in the next two years. Even if billionaires lose their money, they would still be worth 40% more than they were before the virus hit. These are staggering figures that highlight the growing gulf of billionaires.
Concentration of wealth
The SCF has published detailed statistics on income and wealth distribution. In 2016, the top 1 percent of the income distribution received a quarter of all income, while the top one percent of wealth owners held nearly two-fifths of the nation’s wealth. In contrast, the rest of the country’s income distribution is fairly evenly distributed. However, the number of highly-wealthy households has been increasing over time.
The study also uses administrative income data and assumptions to determine the levels of wealth in the USA. The authors use an “investment capitalization” model to estimate the concentration of wealth by income level and by profession. This method assumes that the rich are able to earn higher returns on their investments than the rest of the population. The authors estimate that the top 10 percent of households own 73.1% of all wealth. While this is a shocking result, the authors’ conclusions are compelling nonetheless.
The study also shows that the very wealthy have accumulated their wealth by owning regional franchises and running successful partnerships. Nearly half of the richest Americans listed in Forbes’ 400 list are private business owners. This finding could have implications for how public policies are crafted in an effort to reduce income inequality and increase revenue from the wealthy. The authors conclude that the results of the study should serve as a blueprint for future policy makers who want to make the USA a more equal society.
The US economy is suffering because of increased concentration of wealth and income. During the Great Recession from 2007 to 2009, incomes declined drastically. The median income was the same as in 2000, but the recovery from this crisis was still uneven. The top ten percent of households enjoyed greater wealth than the bottom 90 percent. As a result, income distribution became even more unequal. This results in lower growth in the economy and weaker demand today.
The wealth gap between white and non-white families is widening. While the wealth of white families rose dramatically from 1995 to 2007, Hispanic families saw their wealth fall only 4% from 2016 to 2019. Despite the growth in wealth, the median wealth of Hispanic families has remained at just 6% of that of white families. The wealth gap between white and non-white households is also growing. In 2019, families with the head of household over 65 owned nearly 60 percent of the median wealth of white households.
Asset price appreciation fuels economic growth
Many economists and policymakers have long argued that asset price appreciation is a major driver of economic growth. This is because rising asset prices are a source of income and wealth effects, and do not necessarily reflect real, fundamental values. Eventually, the increased value of these assets converges to the value that represents the real contribution they make to GDP. However, the question of how much appreciation in asset prices fuels economic growth is still controversial.
Taxation of investment gains
Currently, taxing capital gains has three different options, each with its own set of advantages and disadvantages. While both MTM and carryover basis are widely used, the latter provides a special “deferral recapture” tax on certain non-taxable property transfers. Neither option would prevent billionaires from avoiding paying taxes in the future. But both options do have some major disadvantages. Moreover, they are likely to raise constitutional questions.
The current tax code only allows billionaires to deduct up to 8 percent of their total income. Since the wealthy rarely sell their investments, they do not pay taxes on the money they have made. By addressing the issue, billionaires will have to pay more taxes than they currently do. This measure, if adopted, could make billionaires pay more tax in 2021. However, it has its critics, too.
Although a small group of households is affected by the policy, it still is important to keep in mind that capital gains income is a significant factor in creating large tax bills. For example, a $10 billion dollar household could see its net worth rise to $11 billion in a year. If they were taxed at 20 percent, they would face a $200 million tax bill. In addition, they’ll pay a higher tax rate than the median household.
Despite the controversial nature of the tax, it is worth noting that Democrats have previously proposed similar measures. Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden of Oregon has proposed a 23.8% capital gains tax on billionaires’ unrealized capital gains. If implemented, this tax would affect 700 billionaires and cost an additional $130 billion a year. Even if the government were to enact the new tax, the numbers would still be similar for most billionaires. And the new approach would create more volatile tax bills and refunds than the current system.
As far as taxation of investment gains goes, two-thirds of likely voters support a higher income tax on billionaires, and 53 percent of Republican voters favor it. But more than half of voters do not understand the current law regarding investment gains. In fact, only half of them realize that investment gains are exempt from tax if they are not sold. The current tax treatment of unrealized gains benefits the ultra-rich while depriving lower-income families of the income they depend on.