Rep. Gomez, Senator Bernie Sanders Introduce Bill to Address Income and Wealth Inequality

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Congressman Jimmy Gomez (CA-34) introduced the For the 99.5% Act, legislation that would create a progressive estate tax on the top 0.5% of wealthy Americans. Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) introduced this bill in the United States Senate.

Today in America, the 50 wealthiest people own more wealth than the poorest 165 million Americans who have faced the worst of the economic crisis created by the COVID-19 pandemic. The For the 99.5% Act would institute an estate tax on the families of America’s 657 billionaires, raising up to $2.7 trillion.

“The expansion of the estate tax represents one of our country’s most effective tools in rebuilding our economy to work for all Americans,” said Congressman Gomez. “For far too long, ultra-rich families have used our tax code to acquire mass amounts of wealth as working Americans, especially those of color, have fallen further behind. The For the 99.5% Act would substantively strengthen the estate tax and help restore fairness and equity to our nation’s tax code. I’d like to thank Senator Bernie Sanders for partnering with me in our joint efforts to uplift America’s working class and help provide them with new opportunities to thrive and support their families.”

“Unbelievably, the United States today has more income and wealth inequality than almost any major country on Earth,” said Senator Sanders. “This inequality has only deepened with the economic crisis brought on by COVID and by a tax system that allows for billionaires to pay less in taxes than working people across the country. From a moral, economic, and political perspective our nation will not thrive when so few have so much and so many have so little. We need a tax system which demands the billionaire class pay its fair share of taxes and which reduces the obscene level of wealth inequality in America. I am proud to work with Representative Gomez to pass this important legislation.”

“Our federal estate and gift tax system is riddled with loopholes and work arounds for the ultra wealthy to accumulate enormous riches," said Frank Clemente, Executive Director of Americans for Tax Fairness. "They routinely use highly paid advisors to hide their wealth and pay taxes on only a fraction of it, or they avoid taxes altogether.  The billions in taxes they dodge each year costs hard working families better schools, affordable healthcare, and other critical services. The For the 99.5% Act will close the enormous loopholes in the current law and begin to level the playing field instead of letting the ultra-wealthy avoid paying their fair share."

“The tax code is wildly out of balance, with the most privileged Americans getting virtually a free ride while working families get squeezed,” said Lee Saunders, president of the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees. “It is outrageous that a nurse or a home care provider who is barely getting by has to shoulder more of the tax burden than the heirs to a multigenerational estate worth millions. The For the 99.5 Percent Act would restore fairness to the system, making huge strides toward addressing wealth inequality and generating the revenue we need to make robust investments in infrastructure and public services. AFSCME members are grateful to Rep. Gomez and Sen. Sanders for their leadership on this issue, and we are proud to endorse this important legislation.”

The For the 99.5% Act exempts the first $3.5 million of an individual’s estate from the estate tax and would not raise a single cent in taxes on 99.5% of Americans. This bill establishes the following tax rate structure:

  • 45% on the value of an estate between $3.5 million and $10 million;
  • 50% on the value of an estate between $10 million and $50 million;
  • 55% on the value of an estate in excess of $50 million, and
  • 65% on the value of an estate in excess of $1 billion.

This legislation would also end tax breaks for dynasty trusts, preventing wealthy families from avoiding estate or gift taxes through trust manipulation, and it protects family farmers by allowing them to lower the value of their farmland by up to $3 million for estate tax purposes.

For a PDF of this bill, please click here.

For a summary of this bill, please click here.

The following 34 members of the House of Representatives are original cosponsors of the For the 99.5% Act: Reps. Earl Blumenauer (OR-03), Cori Bush (MO-01), André Carson (IN-07), Judy Chu (CA-27), Steve Cohen (TN-09), Danny K. Davis (IL-07), Mark DeSaulnier (CA-11), Adriano Espaillat (NY-13), Jesús G. “Chuy” Garcia (IL-04), Raul Grijalva (AZ-03), Eleanor Holmes Norton (DC-AL), Pramila Jayapal (WA-07), Mondaire Jones (NY-17), Ro Khanna (CA-17), Barbara Lee (CA-13), Andy Levin (MI-09), Alan Lowenthal (CA-47), Carolyn Maloney (NY-12), Grace Meng (NY-06), Grace Napolitano (CA-32), Marie Newman (IL-03), Ilhan Omar (MN-05), Donald M. Payne, Jr. (NJ-10), Mark Pocan (WI-02), Ayanna Pressley (MA-07), Lucille Roybal-Allard (CA-40), Bobby Rush (IL-01), Jan Schakowsky (IL-09), Mark Takano (CA-41), Rashida Tlaib (MI-13), Ted Lieu (CA-34), Peter DeFazio (OR-04), Rosa DeLauro (CT-03), and Bonnie Watson-Coleman (NJ-12).

Additionally, 55 national organizations have endorsed the For the 99.5% Act: AFL-CIO, Alliance for Retired Americans, American Family Voices, American Federation of Government Employees, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME), American Federation of Teachers, Americans for Tax Fairness, Blue Future, Campaign for America’s Future, Center for Biological Diversity, Center for New Revenue, Center for Popular Democracy, Coalition of Human Needs, Communications Workers of America, Daily Kos, First Focus Campaign for Children, Friends Committee on National Legislation, Greenpeace, Health Care for America Now (HCAN), In the Public Interest, Indivisible, Institute for Policy Studies – Program on Inequality, Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the International Union, United Automobile, Aerospace and Agricultural Implement Workers of America (UAW), Main Street Alliance, Moms Rising, National Association of Letter Carriers, National Education Association, National Equality Action Team (NEAT), National Federation of Federal Employees (NFFE), National Organization for Women, National Women’s Health Network, National Women’s Law Center, NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice, Our Revolution, Oxfam America, Patriotic Millionaires, People’s Action, Public Citizen, Responsible Wealth, RESULTS,, Service Employees International Union (SEIU), Small Business Majority, Social Security Works, Strong Economy for All Coalition, Take on Wall Street, Tax Justice Network U.S.A., Tax March, UNITE HERE, United for a Fair Economy, United Steelworkers, and Voices for Progress.

For a PDF of these organizations’ endorsement letter, please click here.

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