Coronavirus economic fallout sparks more talk of taxing California’s richest


California State House. Photo by Anne Wernikoff for CalMatters


AUGUST 13, 2020

A “CEO tax” targeting San Francisco’s most unequal salaries. A signature-gathering campaign to tax Palo Alto’s millionaires. And now, a new statewide bill that would levy a yearly 0.4 percent tax on every Californian worth more than $30 million.

California is suddenly reckoning with an unusually heated debate over taxing the rich as the coronavirus’ economic impact ratchets up the gulf between those at the top of the economic ladder and those at the bottom.

As the Golden State’s billionaires saw their net worth jump by billions, more than 7.51 million Californians have filed first claims for unemployment since March and the state faces a $54 billion budget deficit.

“People are talking about it now in ways that they weren’t before in large part because of coronavirus,” said Patricia Cain, a tax law professor at Santa Clara University’s School of Law. “And there’s the discussion around Black Lives Matter that wealth in this country is so racially segregated. People are realizing that taxes is one way to make a change.”

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