California Democrats consider wealth tax — including for people who moved out of state

California Democrats consider wealth tax — including for people who moved out of state

California lawmakers are pushing laws that may impose a brand new tax on the state’s wealthiest residents — even when they’ve already moved to a different half of the nation.

Assemblyman Alex Lee, a progressive Democrat, final week introduced a bill in the California State Legislature that may impose an additional annual 1.5% tax on these with a “worldwide internet price” above $1 billion, beginning as early as January 2024.

As early as 2026, the brink for being taxed would drop: these with a worldwide internet price exceeding $50 million could be hit with a 1% annual tax on wealth, whereas billionaires would nonetheless be taxed 1.5%.

Worldwide wealth extends past annual earnings to incorporate numerous holdings equivalent to farm belongings, arts and different collectibles, and shares and hedge fund curiosity.

SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA - OCTOBER 01: California Gov. Gavin Newsom speaks during a news conference after meeting with students at James Denman Middle School on October 01, 2021 in San Francisco, California. California Gov. Gavin Newsom announced that California will become the first state in the nation to mandate students to have a COVID-19 vaccination in order to attend in person classes. The mandate will go into effect at all private and public schools in the state when the FDA approves the vaccinations for students age and grade level. It is expected that 7th to 12th graders will likely have to have the vaccine by January of 2022. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California Gov. Gavin Newsom


The laws is a modified model of a wealth tax accredited within the California Assembly in 2020, which the Democrat-led state Senate declined to move.


The present model simply launched contains measures to permit California to impose wealth taxes on residents even years after they left the state and moved elsewhere.

Exit taxes aren’t new in California. But this invoice additionally contains provisions to create contractual claims tied to the belongings of a rich taxpayer who would not have the money to pay their annual wealth tax invoice as a result of most of their belongings aren’t simply become money. This declare would require the taxpayer to make annual filings with California’s Franchise Tax Board and ultimately pay the wealth taxes owed, even when they’ve moved to a different state.

California was one of several blue states final week to unveil payments to impose new wealth taxes. The different states had been Connecticut, Hawaii, Illinois, Maryland, Minnesota, New York and Washington. Each state’s proposal contained a distinction tax strategy, however all of them centered across the identical fundamental concept: the wealthy should pay extra.

Lee’s workplace did not reply to a request for remark for this story. However, he is made public statements echoing the message that wealthier residents ought to pay greater taxes.

“The working class has shouldered the tax burden for too lengthy,” Lee wrote in a tweet. “The ultra-rich are paying little to nothing by hoarding their wealth by way of belongings. Time to finish that.”

According to Lee, the tax would have an effect on 0.1% of California households and generate a further $21.6 billion in state income, which might go to the state normal fund. California has among the highest taxes of any state within the nation.

Advocates argue that the cash may increase funding for colleges, housing and different social applications. Perhaps extra importantly, nevertheless, Lee hopes it may assist tackle California’s huge $22.5 billion finances deficit.


“This is how we are able to hold addressing our budgetary points,” he advised the Los Angeles Times. “Basically, we may plug the complete gap.”

However, specialists counter that the invoice may have the precise reverse impact by way of excessive administrative prices and by inflicting an exodus of people to flee the state.

“It brings vital administrative challenges with respect to asset and legal responsibility valuation, excessive and distortionary efficient charges, amongst different issues that make it an inefficient income supply,” Gordon Gray, director of fiscal coverage on the American Action Forum, advised Fox New Digital.

Others echoed this level, additionally arguing a brand new wealth tax would doubtless lead many rich residents to go away California.

“The proposed California wealth tax could be economically damaging, difficult to manage and would drive many rich residents — and all their present tax funds — out of state,” Jared Walczak, vice chairman of state initiatives at Tax Foundation, advised Fox News Digital. “The invoice units apart as a lot as $660 million per 12 months simply for administrative prices, greater than $40,000 per potential taxpayer, giving an concept of how troublesome such a tax could be to manage.”

People are already shifting from high-tax states into low-tax ones, based on a latest analysis by James Doti, president emeritus and economics professor at Chapman University. He discovered that the ten highest tax states misplaced almost 1 in 100 residents in internet home migration between July 2021 and July 2022, whereas the ten lowest tax states gained nearly 1 in 100.

California lawmakers pushing the wealth tax assume they’ll “get round” the issue of residents leaving “by making an attempt to tax people even after they go away the state,” stated Patrick Gleason, vice chairman of state affairs at Americans for Tax Reform. However, he, Gray and Walczak all questioned the legality of such an strategy or labeled it outright unconstitutional.


Past research have proven that the highest 1% of taxpayers pay about 50% of state earnings taxes in New York, California and elsewhere, elevating the query of how damaging a mass exodus of rich residents may very well be to tax income.

Walczak famous {that a} wealth tax could be particularly problematic for California, joking that the people most enthusiastic about such a legislation needs to be people in Texas, the place some high-profile Californians have relocated in recent times.

“A wealth tax may very well be notably damaging in California, dwelling to so many tech startups, as a result of the house owners of promising companies may very well be taxed on a whole bunch of tens of millions of {dollars}’ price of estimated enterprise worth that by no means really materializes,” stated Walczak. “Very few taxpayers would remit wealth taxes, however many taxpayers would pay the value. The solely people who ought to genuinely love a California wealth tax are those who work in Texas’ financial growth workplace.”

However, some proponents of wealth taxes argue they’re essential to fight financial inequality.

Maryland Democrat Delegate Jheanelle Okay. Wilkins, for instance, has proposed a invoice in order that households would owe taxes on inheritances over $1 million somewhat than $5 million, as is the case at the moment. She stated such concepts will now acquire extra assist after the COVID-19 pandemic uncovered inequality between the wealthy and poor.

“That’s fairly a bit of funds that we’re leaving on the desk,” she advised the Washington Post.

Other supporters say wealth taxes are small and the wealthy can afford them. But specialists be aware that as a result of the charges are on internet price, not on earnings, they’ve an outsized impact.


Walczak illustrated the purpose in a latest weblog post, utilizing for example a $50 million funding, held for 10 years and incomes a ten% nominal annual price of return in an surroundings of 3% annual inflation. Without a wealth tax, that funding would yield $46.5 million in funding returns, in present {dollars}, after 10 years. With a 1% wealth tax, nevertheless, it will yield $37.3 million, wiping out almost 20% of the features.

Wealth taxes “lower deeply into funding returns, to the detriment of the broader financial system,” wrote Walczak. “Average taxpayers could not care if the ultra-wealthy have decrease internet worths. But they are going to actually care if innovation slows and investments decline.”