League of Millionaires Join Populist Call for
Higher Taxes on Richest U.S. Households
Wealthy Entrepreneurs, Executives and Inheritors Join
Broad Movement to Support Tax Solutions for the 99%
BOSTON, MA (April 10, 2012) — Tax day is fast approaching, a Senate vote on the Buffet rule is scheduled for next week and the expiration of the Bush-era tax cuts looms at the end of the year. With tax policy at the center of the public debate in this election year, United for a Fair Economy and members of its Responsible Wealth project are supporting tax solutions for the 99%.
Wealthy and upper-income taxpayers, including successful entrepreneurs, executives and inheritors, are coming forward to argue that people like themselves should pay higher taxes for the good of the country. They join tax policy experts, organizers, and the majority of the public in support of higher taxes on the rich as the most obvious and sensible first step toward a sustainable federal budget.
"The richest taxpayers were handed enormous tax cuts in the Bush years," stated Mike Lapham, the director of Responsible Wealth project. "These tax cuts are driving up our debt and damaging our economy. The rich don't need any more tax breaks, and the country can't afford them."
United for a Fair Economy and Responsible Wealth members are supporting tax policies including ending the preferential treatment of investment income by taxing wealth like work, restoring a strong federal estate tax and ending the Bush-era tax cuts.
David A. Levine, former Chief Economist at investment-management firm Sanford C. Bernstein & Co., a millionaire and a member of the Responsible Wealth project from New York City, said, "There's no question that we should raise the top marginal rates on people like me with high incomes. Several higher brackets at, say, $1 million, $5 million, and $25 million make sense. We also need to restore the status of dividends as ordinary income. There's no reason to give that form of income as advantage."
The Senate is expected to vote on the "Buffett Rule" on April 16. The bill would ensure that people with a million dollars in annual income would have to pay at least 30% in taxes. Responsible Wealth members Deborah Rappaport and Andy Rappaport derive a significant portion of their income from capital gains and would pay a higher tax rate under the proposed Buffett Rule. "Those of us at the top have built our success on a foundation of widespread well being and opportunity, made possible through long-term public investments in education, research, and infrastructure," said Andy Rappaport, a partner at Menlo Park, CA venture capital firm August Capital. "People at our income level won't be dissuaded from work or investment by higher marginal tax rates and less special treatment."
Deborah Rappaport, who runs the Rappaport Family Foundation, added, "It's not fair to ask those who make less than we do to shoulder more than their share of our national investment in the form of taxes. This is why, since 2001, we have given our proceeds from the Bush tax cuts to causes supporting economic justice. Those tax cuts were unnecessary when they were passed and now they're nothing less than irresponsible."
Tracey Lake, a former Wall Street stockbroker who is currently a real estate developer and investor in Seattle, said, "It makes no sense to tax capital gains at half the rate of earned income. I don't need a lower rate in order to invest. That's just a convenient myth that's been put out there to put a lot more money in the pockets of folks like me who don't need it." As someone who expects to pay the estate tax under current law, she added, "I'm in favor of a lower estate tax exemption. Anyone who dies with more than one or two million dollars made that money with the help of a lot of public investment, and a portion of it should go back toward supporting the public infrastructure that makes it possible." The estate tax exemption is currently $5 million per spouse until the end of 2012, when it is scheduled to return to $1 million.
According to Lee Farris, the Federal Tax Policy Coordinator at United for a Fair Economy, "The Occupy movement has struck a chord with its focus on the concentration of wealth among the top 1 percent and the fact that some wealthy people are paying lower effective tax rates than the 99%. A strong estate tax like we had under the Reagan, Bush Sr., and Clinton administrations would generate more than half a trillion dollars over the next decade and curb the growth of dynastic wealth. UFE is organizing thousands of millionaires, wealthy people and ordinary voters to urge Congress and the President to enact changes that will create a tax system that works for the 99%, instead of just the 1%."
The individuals quoted above, along with other spokespeople for this initiative, are available upon request by contacting Maz Ali (617-423-2148 x101, [email protected]) or Shannon Moriarty (617-423-2148 ext. 108, [email protected]).
United for a Fair Economy is a national organization working with grassroots organizers and policy experts to close the growing economic divide in the U.S. Responsible Wealth, a project of United for a Fair Economy, is a network of business leaders, entrepreneurs, inheritors and high-wealth and upper-income advocates of progressive tax policies and corporate accountability.