So who are the wealthy in America, anyway?

 
 
  

In case you missed it, Forbes released their 2022 World’s Billionaire List last week. According to their research, there are now 2,668 billionaires around the world who boast a collective wealth of $12.7 trillion. The United States is home to 735 of them, with a combined worth of $4.7 trillion.

It’s obvious that America’s billionaires are really wealthy, but it can sometimes be difficult to appreciate just how exorbitantly wealthy they truly are from numbers and statistics alone. In light of this, after Forbes issued their list, the New York Times published an interactive case study of Jeff Bezos that allows readers to grasp the full extent of his wealth through both real-world and whimsical comparisons.

Jeff Bezos is the second wealthiest man in America, behind only Elon Musk. What might surprise you, though, is that Bezos is nowhere near the second highest earner in America. As a nice juxtaposition to the Forbes list, ProPublica released a new bombshell report yesterday that spotlights the top 400 income earners in America. Most of the Forbes billionaires, including Bezos, are on the list, but they don’t break into the top earner spots as one might expect. This is because most of their fortunes are tied up in stocks, bonds, and other assets. Critically, the report also highlights how little in taxes the top American earners pay, just like their ultra-wealthy counterparts.

Thankfully, there are some in the ranks of the rich that recognize the need for change – the Patriotic Millionaires! We recently discussed the need to reign in extreme fortunes and reform the tax code at our conference, Oligarchs vs. All of Us, which has garnered significant media attention. If you missed it, you can check it out here.

This week, we are shining a spotlight on the wealthy in America, the highest earners in America, and why we need to tax them more effectively.

The number of billionaires has fallen (but they’re worth a collective $12.7 trillion) by Joe Hernandez
According to Forbes, there are 2,668 billionaires in the world today. America leads the world in the number of billionaires, taking the lion’s share with 8 of the top 10 billionaire slots comprising Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Warren Buffett, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Larry Ellison, and Steve Ballmer, respectively. The bad news? There are 87 fewer billionaires in the world compared to last year and billionaires are $400 billion poorer too. But don’t be too concerned: a collective worth of $12.7 trillion, with $4.7 trillion going to the American crew, should be enough to help them weather the storm.

9 Ways to Imagine Jeff Bezos’ Wealth by Mona Chalabi
Jeff Bezos is worth $172 billion. Mona Chalabi from the New York Times helps put into perspective just how much money that is with some striking real-world and fun examples. Here are some of the biggest ones:
–                 If Bezos gave away just 1.9% of his wealth, he could pay for Pre-K for every child in America for a year.
–                 The average full-time Amazon worker making $37,930 would have had to have started working in the Pliocene Epoch, 4.5 million years ago, in order to make as much as Bezos.
–                 Bezos’s wealth is to the median American’s as a 5’7 man is to a .00017 cm speck of fingernail dust.
–                 It takes 4.5 hours to make a bagel from scratch. In this time, Bezos makes enough money to afford every person in Brooklyn and Queens a bagel.

America’s Highest Earners And Their Taxes Revealed by Paul Kiel, Ash Ngu, Jesse Eisinger, and Jeff Ernsthausen
ProPublica found tech billionaires (Bill Gates), hedge fund managers (Ken Griffin), private equity executives (Stephen Schwarzman), heirs (the Waltons), and more in the top 400 earners in America. They also found that ultra-earners in America manage to avoid paying their fair share in taxes. Between the years 2013 and 2018, the top 400 earners paid an average tax rate of just 22% as they took advantage of low tax rates on capital income, loopholes like the carried interest, and charitable deductions. But keep in mind – the ultra-wealthy are even bigger tax avoidance culprits. In ProPublica’s investigative report from last year, they found that, between 2014 and 2018, the 25 wealthiest Americans managed to pay a measly 3.4% effective tax rate on their gains.

Tax the rich: these one percenters want people like them to pay higher taxes by Dominic Rushe
We, the Patriotic Millionaires, are a collection of some of America’s wealthiest individuals who want to change the system. The Guardian has joined other high profile media outlets in highlighting our recent conference, Oligarchs Vs. All of Us. The speakers at our conference included many of our own members, elected officials, authors, and community activists who all pushed the critical need for economic justice and tax reform both in the US and around the world.

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