As someone who grew up in West Virginia near Parkersburg, where I still live and where my company is located, I can tell you firsthand that the impacts of inflation are real. My small business has multiple locations across the state and employs over a hundred people, and when I travel from place to place I can see West Virginia suffering as a result every day.
From the homes we raise our families in to the food we use to prepare our meals, West Virginia pays a higher percentage of their annual income to meet their basic needs, dramatically eroding the quality of life for working families as they struggle to pay for other essential services like child care, education and prescription drugs.
Plus, those same hard-working people, from the staff I employ to my neighbors and other small business owners, pay a much higher annual percentage of taxes than the billionaires and other very wealthy people who have benefited the most from. our current system.
Senator Manchin is right to be concerned – our people clearly need help. Fortunately, there is a way for Congress to fight inflation, boost economic activity, and fund investments in critical infrastructure: change our tax code to include a billionaire income tax in the Build Back Better Act. , currently under debate in the US Senate.
It is true that the bipartisan infrastructure bill will stimulate economic activity in our state by creating thousands of stable, well-paying jobs for our residents, actively fighting inflation and offsetting increased federal investment. . But we must go further. The Build Back Better Act will also lower prescription drug prices, support home care for older Americans, expand the child tax credit, and help lower the cost of education, which will allow families to West Virginia to keep more money in their pockets and fight back inflationary pressures.
In West Virginia alone, a decisive number of Democrats and Republicans – 65% in total according to a recent poll – are supporting changing our tax code to ask the richest 0.02% of Americans to pay their taxes. fair share of taxes. And, after nearly two years of enduring the financial hardships caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, I think the people of Mountain State deserve some relief.
During that same period, this country’s 750 top billionaires, like Jeff Bezos and Mark Zuckerberg, saw their net worth increase by more than $ 2.1 trillion, less than the total amount of community investments found in the Build Back Better Act. These same billionaires pay an average of just 3.4% in taxes each year, considerably less than small business owners like me, and certainly less than teachers, firefighters and other cornerstones of our community.
A billionaire income tax should be added to BBB as it is effective and efficient in increasing the income needed to pay for our investments in our critical infrastructure and social safety nets. It would be due once a year on easily priced assets like stocks and bonds, while more difficult to value assets like real estate would be taxed on sale and include interest. If these assets do not appreciate, no tax is applied.
This simplified tax code would not only raise more than $ 550 billion over ten years, but also free up resources for the IRS to recover a greater percentage of taxes owed, allowing the federal government to continue investing in essential services like those found in the Build Back Better Act; and the infrastructure that working families need. In the meantime, that $ 550 billion will be used to create thousands of new, stable jobs in West Virginia, boosting economic activity and further combating the inflationary pressures our residents face.
I hope to one day pass my business on to my children, just as my parents, who were first generation Americans, did for me. I hope to see it grow and expand, and I hope to see this prosperity spread in my community, not only for my own benefit but also for my neighbors. But there is little hope for small businesses like mine if my patients can no longer afford my services due to inflation, lack of well-paying jobs, and other financial stressors. By including a billionaire income tax in the Build Back Better Act, the United States can help rebuild our communities by putting more West Virginia people to work and with more money in their pockets, allowing them to invest. in local businesses and ensure a better economic future for all people.
Simon Hargus is a Parkersburg resident and owner of a small local business.