A group of millionaires took to the streets on Monday, protesting in front of homes in New York and Washington owned by Jeff Bezos of Amazon, the richest man in the world.
The protest organized by Patriotic Millionaires, a coalition of wealthy individuals who push for progressive policy changes, was staged to mark Tax Day, on which Americans submit their income tax returns to the federal government.
The group also sought to highlight Joe Biden’s plan to raise taxes on corporations and Americans making more than $400,000 a year. The tax hikes are meant to pay for the president’s $2tn infrastructure proposal and $1.8tn American Families Plan.
Patriotic Millionaires, whose members earn incomes of more than $1m or have assets worth more than $5m, campaigned in front of Bezos’s homes with billboards reading “Cut the bullshit. Tax the rich.”
“We’re ending up with a few rich people and a lot of poor people and that doesn’t work,” Morris Pearl, chairman of the Patriotic Millionaires board and a former BlackRock executive, told the Guardian.
“That’s not a way you can run a sustainable society.”
Bezos has said he supports raising the corporate tax rate. But Amazon has long been the subject of protests about tax avoidance.
According to calculations by the progressive Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy in February, in 2020 Amazon only paid a 9.4% federal income tax rate, less than half the statutory 21%.
The Biden administration proposes to increase the corporate tax rate from 21% to 28%, partially reversing cuts pushed through by Donald Trump. Until Trump and Republicans in Congress passed tax cuts in 2017, the top US corporate tax rate was 35%.
In the UK the current rate of corporation tax is 19%. In Ireland it is 12.5%, one of the lowest among EU nations, leading to many corporations moving operations overseas.
Biden’s infrastructure plan would fund childcare and free universal pre-school education facilities as well as programs to rebuild collapsing transport systems and public-sector housing.
“It makes much more sense to require the people who have clearly benefited the most from our system to reinvest a huge percentage of their excess wealth back into that system,” Erica Payne, president of Patriotic Millionaires, said in a statement.
Protests were also scheduled to take place in front of the Washington home of the Senate minority leader, Mitch McConnell, the New York office of the Senate majority leader, Chuck Schumer, and others.