Five Key Research Findings on Wealth Taxation for the Super Rich

20 Pages Posted: 31 Jul 2019

See all articles by David Gamage

David Gamage

Indiana University Maurer School of Law

Date Written: July 27, 2019


This essay summarizes five key findings from the author’s in-progress research evaluating the potential of wealth tax reform proposals for taxing the super rich. These five key findings are as follows:

-- First, the existing U.S. tax system does a very poor job of meaningfully taxing the super rich.

-- Second, there are only two approaches for reform that could plausibly succeed in making it so that the U.S. tax system would meaningfully tax the super rich: wealth taxation and mark-to-market taxation (sometimes known as “accrual” taxation).

-- Third, piecemeal reforms to the existing tax system that some have argued for as “progressive alternatives” to wealth tax reforms should be thought of as complements to wealth taxation rather than as competitors.

-- Fourth, much of the public criticism of wealth tax reform proposals ignores recent legal scholarship on valuation methodologies and other implementation design options, to the extent that this criticism mostly only applies to outdated, “straw man” versions of how a modern wealth tax might be implemented.

-- Fifth, concerns about the Supreme Court striking down wealth tax reforms as unconstitutional can be addressed by including fallback options in the wealth tax legislation.

Keywords: wealth tax, valuation

JEL Classification: K34

Suggested Citation

Gamage, David, Five Key Research Findings on Wealth Taxation for the Super Rich (July 27, 2019). Available at SSRN: or

David Gamage (Contact Author)

Indiana University Maurer School of Law ( email )

211 S. Indiana Avenue
Bloomington, IN 47405
United States


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