Wealth registries and exit taxes

Not scary or intrusive at all: presidential candidate Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has called for enacting a “national wealth registry,” the better to enforce future schemes of taxation, confiscation, and restraints on expatriation [Brittany De Lea, Fox Business; related, Chris Edwards, Cato; Emily Ekins on opinion poll] And the steep “exit tax” that Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Sanders propose to slap on wealthy individuals who depart the U.S., of up to 40 and 60 percent respectively, did not sound better in the original German [Ira Stoll; earlier]

P.S.: On the constitutionality angle, note that the Competitive Enterprise Institute has just filed a lawsuit on behalf of a couple challenging the constitutionality of a provision of the 2017 tax reform law known as the Mandatory Repatriation Tax. Counsel Andrew Grossman, quoted in the CEI press release, stated:

The Mandatory Repatriation Tax is unconstitutional for the same reason that a wealth tax would be. The Constitution does not permit Congress to simply declare money that it wants to tax to be income and then demand its cut. And the courts have never permitted retroactive taxation reaching back anywhere near the 30 years, as the Mandatory Repatriation Tax does. The details of the tax may be complicated, but the constitutional violations are clear.


  • “I’ll pay half of everything I have to get out of this madhouse!”

  • Populating the database might have some challenges, but I bet they could get the insurance companies and state and local governments to help, with their lists of real property, cars and boats, and expensive jewelry. Also all the brokerage houses, who send the government their annual reports of income. They already send out a report on the value of IRAs every year, so an all-inclusive report would be easy. And countries in he EU are already doing this, as a result of the Panama trust fund scandals.

    They will also have to establish a registry of weapons – guns, ammo, knives, swords, bows and arrows, and all the machinery that could be used to make them.

    And, of course, all that information would need to be publicly available, so that whistle-blowers could turn in cheats. It would be a marvelous example of communitarianism.

    In order to keep the children safe, of course.

  • Of all the many people who made public declarations to become expats if Trump were elected, is there evidence that any actually followed through?

    Likely the same outcome for a Warren or Sanders election. Those with serious wealth will have divested offshore or into hard to track investments (art and the like) already. Those with modest wealth have it all in plain sight of the government (stock, 401, real estate), and cannot hide it.
    Will government cast its gaze upon the bulk of the middle class? defined benefit pension plans favored by the public service and government jobs. Net present value of a fireman retiring today at age 50 is easily upward of 2 million

  • This hatred of the wealthy is so strange. Without people with money to invest and who can start a business, the economy grinds to a halt. But people like Bernie think that money just falls from the sky…onto the wrong people apparently. Bernie and Liz are in fact quite wealthy and perhaps they feel guilty about their wealth–in which case give it away and leave the rest of us alone.

    As to the “wealth tax”, my home is already taxed at 2% of its value every year via property tax. For a business, property tax must be paid even if you are losing money. Homes of elderly poor are regularly seized for failure to pay this tax.

    One of the ironies about hatred of the “rich” is that many people who view themselves as middle class are in fact according to government criteria in the upper class or even the rich (top 5% or so). They think plans to tax the “rich” don’t affect them, but they always do.

  • Perhaps this is best left to the individual states. You could have “free” states and you could have … the other kind.

  • I don’t consider myself a conspiracy nut but I’m honestly beginning to worry, not that Sanders or Warren are openly talking about ignoring the Constitution with their irrational fear of the Bill of Rights, but that so many people agree with them.

    Why is having more money than someone else something that needs to be destroyed? Could it be that someone actually did something to earn it? Very few people inherent their wealth, they did something to earn it. But even if it were inherited, what makes them think it’s theirs to give away to their preferred causes? Neither one is giving anyway any of there’s. We’re moving into scary territory here in that every Democrat in the run is wanting to do the same.

    • ‘They” don’t care if it is yours legally or not they just want it! This is not a well thought out legal idea it is just what fits the “need” of the moment. These types of people live to get power and power is best shown by the ability to cause ones enemies pain. The more pain the better! There are kulaks and wreckers all around them and they must be destroyed no matter how much damage it causes.

  • The tax on expatriation smacks a lot of what the Soviet Union did. If people want to abandon US citizenship, there should not be a monetary penalty associated with it.

  • I assumed Silicon Valley plutocrats would quietly oppose secession of California, lest the newly independent progressive country expropriate them overnight. But perhaps it won’t make any difference.

    China has shown curious restraint with recent Hong Kong protests. They have the technology and force to prevent contagion from spreading to the mainland, but normally an authoritarian state would be annoyed at this defiance.
    Perhaps, remembering the US universities that fattened off Hitler’s purge of German universities in the 1930s, China hopes that Hong Kong can attract entrepreneurs driven out of a Chavista USA.

  • Did you really think they would stop with registering guns?

  • Could there be a more perfect design to ensuret capital flight from the US? This “Hotel California” plan would ensure no right thinking investor would subject themselves to the greed of Bernie and Warren as, once in, they might never get out!
    The fundamental problem is that the voracious maw of the Spendocrats knows no limits and sooner or later the need for $$ will overwhelm any constitutional niceties and outright confiscation will be found to be, somehow, “constitutional!”

    Readily transportable wealth located outside the US is becoming more and more of a part of a prudent life and that is really sad and distorting.