New York billionaires are being targeted by Democrats in the state as part of a new “Make Billionaires Pay” campaign. The proposal in the state legislature would slap a new capital gains tax on New York residents with $1 billion or more in assets, raising $5.5 billion in state revenue a year.

“Two million New Yorkers have already lost their jobs because of the economic crisis triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic,” a statement from the campaign’s website says. “Meanwhile, the wealth of billionaires and ultra-millionaires has been largely protected -- and in many instances, has greatly grown. New York State now has 118 billionaires (up from 112 last year.)” 

“We cannot allow state budget cuts without raising revenue from those who can most afford to pay more,” the statement concludes. New York state currently has a $13 billion deficit.

The mark-to-market tax would be applied to capital gains, regardless if the assets are sold. Currently, capital gains tax only applies when an individual sells an asset.

Top progressives have endorsed the idea.

"For so long we've been bailing out corporations," New York Assemblywoman Carmen De La Rosa said about the campaign. "Covid has shown us that the most vulnerable people in our community, they too deserve to be bailed out."

“It’s time to stop protecting billionaires, and it’s time to start working for working families,” Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, D-N.Y., said in a video about the new tax.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, a Democrat, has pushed back against the proposal, as he believes it would result in billionaires leaving New York to low-tax states. Instead, Cuomo believes the federal government should implement a tax hike on the wealthy.

“If they want a tax increase, don’t make New York alone do a tax increase — then they just have the people move to Connecticut. Let the federal government pass a tax increase,” Cuomo said in a recent press briefing. “And let them apply it all across the country, so you don’t hurt any one state. Because if you take people who are highly mobile, and you tax them, well then they’ll just move next door where the tax treatment is simpler. It has to be done on a federal level.”

The idea of higher taxes on the wealthy has gained momentum in recent years. Sen. Bernie Sanders, D-Vt., made higher taxes on billionaires a central part of his campaign when he ran for president in 2016 and 2020.