Damodaran on proposed billionaire tax

BVWireIssue #230-1
November 3, 2021

federal taxation
federal taxation, Aswath Damodaran, capital gains, income tax

“A boon for appraisers and accountants,” but it is one of the worst tax proposals ever, says Aswath Damodaran (New York University Stern School of Business), in an appearance on CNBC. He’s referring to the Democratic proposal to tax the unrealized capital gains of people with either $1 billion or more in assets or three consecutive years of income of at least $100 million. Under current law, such assets are subject to tax only when they’re sold. The proposal meets all of Damodaran’s requirements for “really bad tax law,” namely that it targets very few people (and those who can fight back), it is tied to a volatile measure (capital gains), it is very difficult to compute (unrealized gains), and it may possibly cannibalize taxes already being collected from other sources. Plus, some billionaires would escape the tax if, say, the billion dollars they have does not grow—so it singles out successful entrepreneurs. “It’s almost perverse,” says Damodaran. There are better alternatives, he says, such as eliminating the free step-up in basis for inherited assets and raising rates.
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