In an interview Gates said:

When you say I should pay $100 billion then I'm starting to do a little math about what I have... leftovers

Turned out it was a joke, as he added "Just kidding". But there is saying: "A joke is truth wrapped in a smile."

What the math behind that (exact numbers)? How big those "leftovers" gonna be?

  • @Downvoters I think it polite and smart to tell why you do this, because during discussion it may be that you're wrong. You should talk to people. If it's because it's economics question, then mind that we have an 'economy' tag here.
    – R S
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:06
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    Please note in the answer that Gates said, specifically "just kidding," so why would there be a question about the veracity of "kidding"? That's probably the source of the down-votes (I did not down-vote, FYI). Jan 16, 2020 at 20:00
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    @PoloHoleSet To be fair, the linked Yahoo Finance video cut out the "just kidding" comment. Most - but not all - news articles about the issue contain the "just kidding" comment though.
    – tim
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:30
  • Are we really fact-checking jokes now? :(
    – Sjoerd
    Jan 16, 2020 at 20:34
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    @tim - Aha... well, that fits with Yahoo! "News" standards. I'd highly recommend to R S that he./she only use that site as a direction to finding actual news stories about things seen there, or if he/she wants to be kept up to date on all the "clapbacks" and who is posting bikini selfies in their middle-aged years. Jan 16, 2020 at 20:38

1 Answer 1


Warren has released a tax calculator, according to which Bill Gates would pay $6.319 billion on his $106 net worth in wealth tax (which approximately matches her proposed wealth tax of 6% for >$1b annually).

Various sources put the net worth of Gates at $110 billion.

In either case, Gates would have ~$100 billion left after the wealth tax. For that matter, he would have ~$10 billion left if the $100 billion number were true.

This does not consider existing taxes or other tax increases in addition to the wealth tax (such as an additional 3% for a medicare for all plan, or handling capital gains tax the same as income tax; but there's no reasonable way to reach the claimed $100b number; which is probably why Gates qualified the claim with "I'm just kidding")

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    @JonathanReez and even assuming he never again made a dime, the amount he paid in tax each year would reduce as his wealth reduced until he was left with under $50million in leftovers whereupon he would pay no further wealth taxes. Nightmare.
    – Jontia
    Jan 16, 2020 at 17:23
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    @jontia assuming a 6% reduction per year it would take 124 years to go from $100B to $50M. And this assumes he keeps his money under an extremely large bed. I doubt this nightmare is giving him too many sleepless nights.
    – Eric Nolan
    Jan 16, 2020 at 18:57
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    Also related: if Bill Gates got around a 6-7% ROI on his wealth each year, his wealth would never really drop. The wealth tax would just cancel out his capital gains.
    – John
    Jan 16, 2020 at 19:02
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    @JonathanReez - If Bill Gates started at $110 B, and that nest egg never earned a single penny of income for the rest of his life, and he lived another 35 years under this plan, he'd be at $12.6B+ after 35 years of zero earning. Jan 16, 2020 at 20:04
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    @Sjoerd - yes, it's his to spend. And, as a member of society, it's no longer his if it gets collected as tax revenue, so I'm not sure why that's relevant. Jan 16, 2020 at 20:40

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