Warren Backs More Audits for Rich as Part of Wealth Tax Plan

(Bloomberg) — Senator Elizabeth Warren said IRS funding should be bolstered so the richest Americans get audited about once every three years as part of her proposed 2% annual tax on wealth in excess of $50 million.

The Massachusetts Democrat said she wants to nearly double the Internal Revenue Service budget, which would also help with enforcement of a wealth tax. She said she plans to talk to Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen about how to implement such a tax.

“The audit rate of the top one tenth of 1% — the 100,000 families that would be affected — the audit rate will be 30%. That means every three years in effect,” she said Tuesday in an interview with Bloomberg Radio Sound On host Kevin Cirilli.

Warren’s legislation for the wealth tax includes provisions that authorize more funding for the IRS to provide for stricter enforcement of tax laws. She estimates the bill would generate $3 trillion in government funding over a decade, which she said could help pay for programs like universal child care, infrastructure investment and environmental initiatives.

Although her proposal, which would tax wealth above $50 million at 2% and at 3% above $1 billion, is unlikely to make its way through the narrowly divided Congress any time soon, Warren said the idea is gaining ground with the public.

“People across this nation, independents, Republicans, Democrats, a majority of all of them want to see us do a wealth tax because they know the system is rigged against them,” Warren said.

Warren, a candidate in the 2020 Democratic primaries, dismissed criticism that measuring wealth to tax would be too difficult, saying assets like stock portfolios and real estate are easily assessed.

Warren separately rejected warnings from some prominent economists — notably former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers — who have said that the size of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion stimulus plan could trigger inflation.

“We should have learned the lesson, number one lesson from the 2008 crash is that when you don’t put enough into recovery, recovery is slow, and some folks never get a chance to get back to where they were before, much less be able to thrive and go forward,” she said.

Warren also predicted that Senate Democrats would eventually be forced to get rid of the filibuster, which requires the votes of 60 senators to advance most legislation. That gives Republicans in the 50-50 Senate the ability to block legislation they oppose.

She cited the rule as the reason Democrats couldn’t advance an increase in the minimum wage after the Senate parliamentarian ruled it couldn’t be included in the process being used for the relief package.

“I don’t think the American people want us to sit back and say, ‘Oh darn, we can’t get anything done, can’t get a minimum wage passed, can’t get gun safety, can’t get universal child care, can’t do things that are broadly supported across this country because Mitch McConnell in the minority has the power to block them,” Warren said, referring to the Senate Republican leader.

“We’re going to keep putting up the things that we need to do, and if Mitch McConnell keeps blocking them, I think, I think Democrats will step up and get rid of the filibuster,” she said.

Warren also restated her desire for an investigation into what happened with GameStop Corporation, including behind the scenes contracts and backed an investigation into sexual harassment complaints against New York Governor Andrew Cuomo.

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