Sanders favors raising taxes on the wealthy as a means of achieving his goal of “redistribution of wealth”, which he believes is necessary due to massive financial inequality among the American population.
AL HUNT: “On economics, you call for a, really a massive redistribution of income from the very wealthy, who made out very well in recent years, to the middle class. And it would be done, as I read your website and others, and your speeches, chiefly through the tax code. You want to close a lot of loopholes such as that that allows people to evade taxes by going to the Cayman Islands, but how bout rates? What would you raise the top rate to? It's thirty-nine-six now, would you go over fifty?”
BERNIE SANDERS: “Well, I promise you Al, that, you know, I don't like to give policy off the top of my head. We are working right now on a comprehensive tax package, which I suspect will for the top marginal rates go over 50%. But here's the story. You talk about, correctly, my desire to see redistribution of wealth. And you know why I believe that's important? Because in the last thirty years, there has been a massive – we're talking about many trillions of dollars, being redistributed from the middle class to the top 1/10th of 1%. And I think at a time when the middle class is disappearing, when you have millions of families who have virtually nothing in the bank. They don't know how they're gonna retire. You have people working for 8 bucks an hour. I say, yeah, it is time to redistribute money back to the working families of this country from the top 1/10th of 1%, and tax policy is one of the ways we do that.”
Sanders has clarified that, contrary to what many have said about him, he does not in fact support a tax rate greater than 90% on the top income bracket. He has also discussed the need for a new tax on Wall Street speculation.
JAKE TAPPER: “Let's turn to the issue of income inequality, an issue you talk about quite a bit on the stump. In an interview with John Harwood recently, you spoke favorably of the tax rates when Dwight Eisenhower was president. The top marginal tax rate, I believe, was about 92% for income over $400,000 per year. Do you really think there should be a marginal tax rate above 90%?”
BERNIE SANDERS: “No. In fact, I've never said that, that's something that's kind of gone around. What I do think, Jake, is that when you have major American corporations making billions of dollars in profit, stashing their profits in the Cayman Islands and other tax havens, and not paying a nickel in a given year in federal taxes, clearly that has got to change. When you have oil companies making billions of dollars not paying anything in federal taxes, that has got to change. When you have Warren Buffet, one of the richest guys in the world, telling us that his effective tax rate is lower than his secretary's or truck driver's or nurse's, of course that has got to change. So what we are working on now, and have introduced legislation, is for a tax on Wall Street speculation. I think we gotta dampen down that speculation of Wall Street. In my view, we ought to break up the major financial institutions. We have to do away with these corporate tax havens. And yes, we have to raise individual tax rates substantially higher than they are today, because almost all of the new income is going to the top 1%, and yes, those folks and large corporations will have to pay under a Sanders administration more in taxes so that we can use that revenue to rebuild our crumbling infrastructure, create the jobs we need, make sure that every kid who has the ability is able to get a college education in America because public colleges and public universities will be tuition-free.”