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San Jose Assemblyman Lee Proposes Tax on Ultra-Rich

SAN JOSE (CBS SF/BCN) -- A state assemblymember representing San Jose announced a tax proposal for the ultra-rich on Monday that California voters could approve in 2022 if the state Legislature places it on the ballot.

Assemblyman Alex Lee, D-San Jose, joined other state legislators and advocates to announce the plan to impose a 1% annual tax on net household wealth of more than $50 million and an additional 0.5% on household wealth of more than $1 billion.

Two-thirds votes from both houses of the Legislature would be required to put it on the ballot in 2022, and a simple majority of the state's voters would then be needed to approve it, according to Lee.

The plan mirrors national efforts by Sen. Elizabeth Warren, D-Massachusetts, and other members of Congress who earlier this month proposed the Ultra-Millionaire Tax, which would impose a 2% annual tax on the net worth of households and trusts above $50 million, with a 1% surtax on the net worth of those above $1 billion.

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"We need sizable reinvestments to our community from those who aren't paying their fair share," Lee said at a briefing Monday with fellow state Assemblymembers Lorena Gonzalez, D-San Diego, Miguel Santiago, D-Los Angeles, and Luz Rivas, D-Arleta, and advocates for the wealth tax, including the California Federation of Teachers.

Lee acknowledged that a previous wealth tax proposal, Assembly Bill 2088, by Assemblyman Rob Bonta, D-Oakland, and others failed in the Legislature last year, with critics saying it would impose taxes on people even years after they left the state.

The Bay Area Council, a regional business advocacy group, condemned Lee's proposal in a statement Monday.

"Jobs and investors are already fleeing the state's onerously high taxes, unaffordable housing, rampant homelessness and excessive regulations. Other states that smell California's economic vulnerability are licking their chops at the sight of reckless legislation like this," the Bay Area Council said.

But Lee notes that a majority of Californians want the state's wealthy to pay their fair share.

"We have broad support — 67% of Californians polled in January support a tax on extreme wealth, and if passed through the legislature, the people would decide. And the people want the rich to pay their taxes," Lee tweeted.

© Copyright 2021 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Bay City News Service contributed to this report.

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