Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez wants New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo to impose a tax on the state’s billionaires that would then be used to help people financially impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, according to Fox Business Network.
AOC is part of the “Fund Excluded Workers” movement that is advocating for legislation that would tax New York’s 118 billionaires, who are worth an estimated $566.4 billion.
The proposed bill, sponsored by Jessica Ramos, a state senator from Queens, would tax the unrealized capital gains of the state’s billionaires. The wealth tax would raise about $5.5 billion in revenue, which would go toward workers not eligible for unemployment benefits or federal relief measures.
"We need you to pass a billionaire's tax, in order to make sure that we're providing for our working families,” Ocasio-Cortez said in a video released by the group on Thursday. “It's time to stop protecting billionaires, and it's time to start working for working families.”
In addition to Ocasio-Cortez and Ramos, two Assembly members, Carmen De La Rosa and Yuh-Line Niou, along with New York City Public Advocate Jumaane Williams are pressuring Cuomo to put the wealth tax in place.
This isn’t the first attempt to impose a wealth tax in New York. Previous efforts failed to gain traction in New York's Republican-controlled state Senate. But Democrats took over both state legislatures in 2018.
Gov. Cuomo has historically opposed taxing the wealthy, even though he is a Democrat. He has previously argued that taxes that target the wealthy could drive them out of the state, according to Fox.
The wealth tax would help about 1.2 million New Yorkers who were not eligible to receive any aid under the CARES Act, according to a report by the Fiscal Policy Institute. Of the people excluded from the federal funding, about 801,000 are undocumented immigrants, according to the report.
The state legislature is scheduled to meet for a summer session on Monday. Since the month began, more than 178 bills have been introduced or amended.
The wealth tax likely will face opposition even with Democrats in control.
Cuomo’s budget director Robert Mujica told The New York Times that New York already has one of the highest tax rates for the rich in the country.
“It’s interesting when you have people elected to Congress pushing for state action when they can’t get action in Congress,” Mujica told the newspaper. “It’s absolutely necessary for the federal government to step up and provide the support we need.”
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