Meet The Millionaires Who Are Trying To Force Washington Into Raising Their Taxes

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Photo: Chung Sung-Jun / Getty Images

Earlier this month, a group of millionaires proposing higher taxes on themselves and other high-earning Americans met with senior White House officials, congressional Republican staffers, and Democratic congresspeople to discuss their agenda in light of the looming fiscal cliff.This organisation, Patriotic Millionaires For Fiscal Strength, has attracted over 200 millionaires who endorse raising the highest tax rate to help reverse the nation’s growing burden of debt.

Members of this organisation casually refer to themselves as the 1%, but their primary policy priority is to contribute more in taxes for the country’s sake.

Here’s a list of the Patriotic Millionaires’ other preferred policy outcomes, from the Agenda Project:

  • Tax capital gains at 20-28%
  • Tax dividends as regular income
  • Limit total deductions either by dollar amount or percentage of income
  • Increase the inheritance tax

Patriotic Millionaires understand that their involvement might be bad for business, or as one entrepreneur put it, “My accountant hates that I’m here.” But they don’t believe that raising the highest tax rate will cause businesses to cut back on hiring. Rather, they insist that tax rates have never factored into any of their hiring decisions. Their rationale is that entrepreneurs don’t worry about effective rates going up by 13% – they’re going for triples and homers, and don’t mind striking out once in a while. The risk of an enterprise’s failure far exceeds employee costs.

The group also offered a rebuttal to the most common criticism it receives: that there’s nothing to stop anyone who wants to from paying more to the Treasury. The Patriotic Millionaires’ stance is that the tax debate is not a matter of personal virtue, but rather of societal choices. Reliance on voluntary tax payments would be unrealistic, and far from prudent policy.

The organisation’s members realise that the nation’s budget can’t be balanced on their backs, but as one Patriotic Millionaire declared, “If we’re not including higher tax rates on upper incomes in the discussion, it’s crazy.”

Tal Zlotnitsky, CEO of iControl Systems

David Watson, entrepreneur and former Google software engineer

Garrett Gruener, founder of Ask.com

Suzanne Lerner, co-founder of Michael Stars

Lerner is a generous donor to Emily's List and the Women Donor's Network as well as a board member at Women Thrive Worldwide. She sees a shrinking middle class and a loss of the opportunities she has enjoyed -- a narrower path to wealth. To help reverse that trend -- and in the hopes of increasing foreign aid to benefit her philanthropic efforts -- Lerner says she is willing to see her tax rate go up.

Frank Patitucci, CEO of NuCompass Mobility Services, Inc.

Daniel Berger, attorney

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