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Marc Benioff explains why rich people should pay more taxes

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On Wednesday evening, just as people were settling in to watch the first Democratic debate, Marc Benioff — the billionaire co-CEO of Salesforce — tweeted:

“Well get an economy that works for everyone when 1) create educational system that works for everyone & 2) Affordable Higher education & 3) strengthen our local K-12 public schools 4) We must focus online reskilling that brings everyone along & 5) higher ind & Crp taxes to pay for it.”

The candidates on stage had started right in by discussing economic disparity, and how today’s system seems to work best for people who already have money.

But increasingly, those who have money, like Benioff, are telling the government, straight up, to tax them more.

Note the last line of Benioff’s tweet: He’s saying that higher taxes on wealthy individuals like himself, as well as corporations like Salesforce could pay for better education for everyone. This includes public schools, colleges, and most critically, the disenfranchised adults who are being left behind in America’s economy, which is increasingly

Read: This Amazon exec helped Alexa work with 60,000 devices, but says he only really understood its power when his kid came home from school

Benioff isn’t the first-and-only billionaire to say taxes should be higher on the rich. Warren Buffett has been saying so for years. Bill Gates recently said so, too, pointing out that whatever the income tax rate is on the richest Americans, they never pay that much (right now it’s at 37%). The richest Americans only pay about 20%, he said, because the source of most of their wealth, long-term investments, is taxed at far lowest rates: 20% for the richest folks.

The hedge fund billionaire calling to impeach President Trump, Tom Steyer, also supports higher taxes on rich folks like himself and Trump. “Rich people have been allowed to pay far less than our fair share for far too long,” Steyer wrote in an op-ed in USA Today in October.

And just this week, George Soros, Abigail Disney, Chris Hughes, Eli Broad and over a dozen other wealthy individuals published an open letter to the 2020 presidential candidates calling for the US to tax them more. They support some form of “moderate” wealth tax, such as the one proposed by Elizabeth Warren, which would impose a 2% tax on assets over $50 million and another 1% on assets over $1 billion (the first $49.9 million would be tax exempt).

But Benioff isn’t waiting for the federal government to act on this. Benioff, both personally and through his company, have donated millions to the school districts in San Francisco, which is both his home and that of Salesforce. He lobbied for, and helped pass, increased taxes on San Francisco tech companies to pay for homeless initiatives.

And his company also offers a free training program, called Trailhead, that helps adults get certified as administrators on his company’s products. While full-blown, in-person Salesforce certification training still costs thousands, Trailhead and other free programs are comprehensive enough to get some people to the first certification step to land jobs.

Salesforce loves to show off the stories of people who have done that, like Zac Otero, who had no formal college education and self-studied his way out of a low-paying job at a meat processing factory into a Salesforce admin job. He’s like a folk hero in the Salesforce community, these days.

Read: Larry Ellison explains Oracle’s restructuring and layoffs: Some of our business units are ‘melting away’ and ‘we just don’t care’

Still, wealthy people and corporations can only do so much on their own, even if they are enormous philanthropists like Gates, Benioff, Soros, Steyer and Broad.

In the letter by Soros and the others, they estimated that a modest wealth tax would impact only 75,000 families in the country, generate $3 trillion in tax revenue over ten years and would not impact those families lifestyle at all.

“We’ll be fine — taking on this tax is the least we can do to strengthen the country we love,” they wrote.

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