At a conference sponsored by the New York Times, Microsoft co-founder and business magnate Bill Gates contradicted Sen. Elizabeth Warren’s (D-Mass.) proposed wealth tax and said that if you “tax too much,” there is a risk of curtailing innovation. He also spoke about the importance of philanthropy, explaining that it “does what the government can't do.”
“I do think that if you tax too much, you risk the capital formation, innovation,” Gates said during the DealBook conference in New York City on Nov. 6. The “U.S. is a desirable place for innovative companies, I do think you risk that.”
Gates explained how fortunes come from creating companies that “achieve very strong positions, particularly in the technology industry.” Therefore, you want the incentive system to be there, he stressed.
"I'm all for super-progressive tax systems," said Gates. "I've paid over $10 billion in taxes. I've paid more than anyone in taxes. If I had to pay $20 billion, it's fine.”
"But when you say I should pay $100 billion, then I'm starting to do a little math about what I have left over,” he said. “Sorry, I'm just kidding."
According to Forbes, Gates’s net worth is $106.9 billion. Gates has donated $35.8 to his Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and is currently working on finding a cure for “infectious diseases, and the leading causes of child mortality in developing countries” among other things.
“I do think philanthropy is a good thing, that two percent of the economy plays a role that neither the private sector nor the government are able to do in terms of various approaches to say Malaria, nutrition,” said Gates.
When a reporter asked Gates if he would want to meet with Warren to discuss her policies on taxes, he said, “I am not sure how open-minded she is, or if she would even be willing to sit down with someone who has large amounts of money.”
Warren tweeted in response, saying, “I'm always happy to meet with people, even if we have different views, if we get the chance, I'd love to explain exactly how much you'd pay under my wealth tax. (I promise it's not $100 billion.)”
Presidential contender Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, also tweeted in response to Gates’s remarks, saying if he were to be taxed $100 billion, then homelessness could end.
“Say Bill Gates was actually taxed $100 billion,” Sanders said in his tweet. “We could end homelessness and provide safe drinking water to everyone in this country. Bill would still be a multimillionaire. Our message: the billionaire class cannot have it all when so many have so little.”