The Biden Administration’s 2023 budget bill made headlines by proposing a so-called “billionaire tax,” imposing a 25-percent minimum rate on the “unrealized capital gains” of the wealthiest Americans. The Biden measure rests on an economic falsehood. The new proposal rests on the work of far-left academics such as Thomas Piketty and Gabriel Zucman, who erroneously claim that wealthy Americans pay a lower tax rate, on average, than the poor. This assertion arises from a compounding of basic empirical errors, beginning with the blurring of the distinction between income (annual earnings) and wealth (net worth) as well as a fair amount of intentional statistical manipulation.
In addition to being premised on bad economic reasoning and contrived evidence, Biden’s proposed wealth tax will also likely face another obstacle: it is blatantly unconstitutional.
To see how, we must turn to the text of the Constitution itself. Article I, Section 8 of the document establishes the “Power to lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States” with the stipulation that these measures must be uniform. A separate clause in Article 1, Section 9 stipulates that “No Capitation, or other direct, Tax shall be laid, unless in Proportion to the Census or Enumeration herein before directed to be taken.”