New progressive taxes are needed at the state level to generate much-needed revenue for anti-poverty programs while also curbing the excessive power the wealthiest 1 percent currently hold over our political system. Case in point: the new federal tax law that will lower taxes on the wealthy, despite majority support among US taxpayers for substantial taxes on the rich. And while opponents will no doubt argue the contrary, a joint Stanford University-Treasury Department report shows that high taxes do not drive millionaires to move across state lines.
Here is a menu of some of the most promising options.
Taxes on High-Income Earners
In 2016, tax increases on the wealthy passed in both states where they were on the ballot. In California, voters extended the nation’s highest top tax rate (13.3 percent) on those making more than $1 million per year, delivering an estimated $4 billion to $9 billion in annual revenue for human needs. Maine voters also passed a 3 percent surtax on income over $200,000.
In 2018, at least two states are expected to bring tax increases on the wealthy before voters. A Massachusetts ballot initiative would create a 4 percent tax on incomes that exceed $1 million, with revenue estimated at $2 billion annually dedicated to public education and transportation.