Jain: It’s time for the wealthy to help out

Priyanka Jain, Contributing Columnist

Imagine yourself on the brink of imminent eviction or unemployment, everyday is like a nightmare waiting to unleash itself. Nothing but fear fills your thoughts about the livelihood of yourself and your family. This was—and still is—an experience shared by many lower- and middle-class families. Rochelle Logan, an essential medical worker and a single parent, not only had to homeschool her kids because of closed daycare programs, but also had to work double shifts from 11 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. with no time off for fear of losing her job. 

From the dire experiences of Logan, it is clear that middle- and lower-class people are battling the hardest in the silent war that is the COVID-19 pandemic. Every day, people are sacrificing themselves for the betterment of their family. Up until now, the government has been unwilling to come to a decision in the creation of a new stimulus package that could help assauge the accumulating state debt and rampant unemployment in the nation. Thus, New Jersey Gov. Philip D. Murphy has proposed the “Millionaire’s Tax,” which mandates increasing the tax rate from 8.97% to 10.75% percent for people earning an income over $1 million.

Increasing the tax rate on the rich is a just idea that will help to lighten the burden that the middle- and lower-classes have been bearing. This isn’t a new idea. Similar laws have been implemented in the past.

For months, the lower- and middle-classes—especially those who are Black or Latinx—have been suffering disproportionately. Many of these people worked in the customer service sector, where some of the first jobs were laid off at the onset of the pandemic. Since Murphy implemented a lockdown in March, 1.5 million residents have filed for unemployment in New Jersey and more than 16,000 have died. 

Looking at these statistics, it’s apparent that the middle- and lower-classes have had no leeway in their predicaments. Many did not have the luxury to decide whether or not they wanted to risk their life by going to work, or remain in the safety of their home. On the other hand, wealthy people had the freedom to decide their circumstances, risking and sacrificing very little. Hence, the Millionaire’s Tax will help to even out the responsibility among society. 

The Millionaire’s Tax is expected to supply an annual rebate of $500 for families with at least one child and an annual income of less than $150,000 a year, and $75,000 for single parents. In addition, this tax increase is expected to generate $390 million this fiscal year, which can help to alleviate the piling state debt in New Jersey and fund more public programs. 

Many skeptics of the Millionaire’s Tax argue that it will chase the rich out of state, therefore sacrificing a huge amount of state revenue. However, a 2014 Stanford University study analyzed the 2004 tax increase in New Jersey and concluded that it did not push the affluent away. Similar outcomes were also shown in the 2005 tax increase in California. Furthermore, this act of raising tax rates due to economic adversity mimics similar acts done during the 2008 recession, where taxes were raised significantly in at least 10 states to balance budgets that were disintegrated by the economic crisis.

Murphy’s proposal of the Millionaire’s Tax offers a viable solution to the state-wide dilemmas of mounting deficits, unemployment and suffering individuals. While this is a great legislative intervention, we as participants of academic society and advocates of educational growth can also aid individuals that are still struggling and recuperating from the blow of the pandemic. We can donate to GoFundMe pages for essential workers and families gravely impacted by COVID-19, order from local restaurants or donate to food banks, which are increasing in demand. 

As humans, it is difficult to acknowledge and comprehend what we can not see. Because some of us are not experiencing the grave effects of the pandemic, it is almost just a passing thought, rather than something that requires our immediate attention. But it’s important to realize that COVID-19 and its economic repercussions are serious issues that mandate attention. Although many of our lives are progressing to a semblance of normalcy, we have to remember that people are still struggling, still unemployed and still dying, and that our help—whether big or small—can mean a lot.