Democrats Want to Tax the Wealthy. Many Voters Agree.
A wealth tax finds support, but challenges loom.
The Times poll found strong support for a wealth tax akin to Ms. Warren’s plan. Sixty-one percent of Americans said they approved of imposing a 2 percent tax on the wealth of households with a net worth of more than $50 million. (Under Ms. Warren’s plan, the rate would rise to 3 percent on wealth over $1 billion, but the Times survey didn’t ask about that provision.) An earlier Morning Consult poll found similar results.
“We pay taxes on our property, why not on your wealth?” said Gary Montoya, a school safety officer in Panama City, Fla.
Mr. Montoya, 39, is a registered Republican and a supporter of Mr. Trump. But he said taxes on the rich must rise to reduce the federal budget deficit, among other priorities.
The idea of a wealth tax, however, is newly prominent in American politics, and it isn’t clear whether support will hold up. Republicans haven’t had time to attack the policy, as they have with the estate tax, and it would face legal challenges if enacted. Moreover, voters used to hearing about income-tax rates might not fully understand the idea of a wealth tax, said Vanessa Williamson, a political scientist at the Brookings Institution who has studied public opinion on taxation.
The wealth tax also raises practical challenges that could turn off some voters. Kris Stallard, a data analyst in Tulsa, Okla., says he wants to raise taxes on the rich, and has no problem with a wealth tax in principle. But he questions how it would work in practice.
“You might own houses, businesses, that sort of thing,” said Mr. Stallard, a Democrat. “Is the government going to take parts of businesses from people?”
On higher income-tax rates, a sharper split emerges.
Other Democrats are taking a more traditional approach to taxing the rich: raising income taxes on the highest earners. Ms. Ocasio-Cortez has proposed a marginal rate as high as 70 percent on annual income over $10 million. The top rate today is 37 percent, down from 39.6 percent before the Republican tax law that passed in late 2017.