Bill Gates is in favor of raising some taxes, but says some proposals seem to have gone too far

Bill Gates

Bill Gates is in favor of raising some taxes, but says some proposals seem to go too far.

The government “has to do more — health costs, pandemic recovery, climate investments, foreign aid generosity,” the billionaire said Friday during an “Ask Me Anything” Q&A session on Reddit. “So I have pushed for some higher taxes. I have disagreed with some proposals that seem to go too far.”

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The Microsoft Corp. co-founder called taxes an “important” issue but didn’t mention any tax proposals during the exchange.

His comments follow a series of proposed wealth taxes at the state and national level. Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren proposed this month the Ultra Millionaire Tax Act, which would apply a 2% annual levy on households and trusts valued at between $50 million and $1 billion. All net worth over $1 billion would be taxed at 3%, costing the 100 richest Americans about $78 billion, according to a Bloomberg analysis. The bill is unlikely to go far in a narrowly divided Congress.

Gates is the third-wealthiest person in the world with a $138 billion fortune, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index. He’s previously called for raising levies on the rich to tackle soaring inequality, including on a blog post at the end of 2019 that suggested closing loopholes and hiking the capital-gains tax so that it equals the rate on labor income. He said on the Reddit forum that increased estate taxes can be an effective tool for raising revenue and avoiding dynastic wealth.

During the forum, he also expressed doubts about introducing a universal basic income, an idea that has gained some support during the pandemic and was promoted by Andrew Yang during his long-shot presidential run.

“We are getting richer as we innovate but I question if we are rich enough to discourage able people from working,” Gates said. “Over time we have been more generous and we will be more generous. The discussion on this is very interesting but it does come down to numbers.”

Other topics covered include:

  • Crypto mining:
    • “I have a lot of issues with anonymous money transfer compared to attributed systems where you can dispute and reverse transactions and make sure taxes are paid. The electricity use is just one issue. We do need digital money but without that overhead.”
  • Misinformation, disinformation and fake news:
    • “Some false information is more interesting than the truth so digital channels seem to magnify echo chambers with bad facts. I haven’t seen as much creativity on how we solve this as we need.”
  • Climate denial:
    • “The damage in the past was huge. Now the oil companies have stopped funding these things so I think climate denial will go down. There are issues about how we go about reducing emissions but I hope all young people agree that is a critical goal.”
    • If nothing is done about climate change, “it gets worse over time and natural ecosystems go away. The migration away from the unlivable areas around the equator will be massive. We won’t be able to support a large population if it gets a lot warmer.”
  • On reaching net zero emissions by 2050:
    • “There’s more public support for taking big steps to avoid a climate disaster than ever before. It’s inspiring to see governments and companies around the world set ambitious goals for reducing emissions. The world’s power to invent makes me optimistic.”

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