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Bernie Sanders wants to raise the estate tax to 77 percent for billionaires

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has announced a proposal to reform the estate tax system and drastically raise rates for billionaires.

The For the 99.8% Act, announced by Sanders Thursday, includes new brackets to tax wealth passed down when a person dies. Under the plan, there would be a 45 percent tax on estates between $3.5 million and $10 million, 50 percent on estates between $10 million and $50 million, 55 percent on estates above $50 million, and 77 percent on estates above $1 billion. Current law taxes an individual's earnings in excess of $11 million, but Sanders would lower this minimum to $3.5 million.

Sanders says this plan, which would apply to 0.2 percent of Americans, is intended to "combat rising wealth inequality" and would ultimately "raise $2.2 trillion from the nation's 588 billionaires," although more immediately, Sanders' aides say it will raise $315 billion over the next 10 years, reports The Washington Post. In a statement, Sanders runs through a number of examples to demonstrate how the proposal would apply to specific billionaires, including Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, whose net worth is around $130 billion and whose family would pay up to $100 billion in estate taxes. The top 77 percent estate tax rate was previously law from 1941 to 1976.

As Sanders pushes for this plan, Republicans are seeking to eliminate the estate tax entirely. Sanders' proposal also comes after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) unveiled her own proposal to tax the wealthiest Americans by introducing a "wealth tax," under which those with more than $50 million in assets would pay a 2 percent tax annually, and Americans with more than $1 billion would pay a 3 percent tax annually. Like Warren, Sanders looks likely to launch a presidential run but has not yet announced his decision.