RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – North Carolina’s three billionaires would pay more than $810 million in taxes under a proposed law from US Senator Bernie Sanders that would hit some of the world’s wealthiest people whose fortunes have increased during the COVID-19 pandemic.

According to the “Make Billionaires Pay” plan announced Thursday by Sanders, an independent who represents Vermont, and co-sponsors Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y, and Ed Markey, D-Mass., a one-time charge of 60% would be levied on the gains in fortune by more than 400 billionaires since the pandemic erupted in March.

Were the bill to become law, here’s how the bill says NC’s three richest people would be affected:

  • Tim Sweeney, majority owner and co-founder of Cary-based Epic Games: $493 million
  • Jim Goodnight, CEO and co-founder of Cary-based SAS, $265 million
  • John Sall, also a SAS co-founder, $83 million

Jeff Bezos, CEO and founder of internet giant Amazon, would face a nearly $43 billion hit.

SAS photo

Jim Goodnight (SAS photo)

“The legislation I am introducing today will tax the obscene wealth gains billionaires have made during this extraordinary crisis to guarantee healthcare as a right to all for an entire year,” said Sanders in announcing the bill.

“At a time of enormous economic pain and suffering, we have a fundamental choice to make. We can continue to allow the very rich to get much richer while everyone else gets poorer and poorer. Or we can tax the winnings a handful of billionaires made during the pandemic to improve the health and well-being of tens of millions of Americans.  In my view, it is time for the Senate to act on behalf of the working class who are hurting like they have never hurt before, not the billionaire class who are doing phenomenally well and have never had it so good.”

The bill sponsors said the tax would target “the $731 billion in wealth accumulated by 467 billionaires—the richest 0.001% of America—a from March 18th until August 5th, a period in which 5.4 million Americans recently lost their health insurance and 50 million applied for unemployment insurance,” the co-sponsors said in a statement.

John Sall (SAS photo)

Funds raised would be used to “cover all necessary healthcare expenses of the uninsured and underinsured, including prescription drugs, for one year.

Based on figures compiled by Forbes’ Real Tim Billionaires list, the legislation says that each of the three NC residents increased their personal fortunes by at least $139 million as of Aug. 5:

  • Sweeney’s net worth increased to $5.3 billion from $4.5 billion
  • Goodnight’s fortune grew to $6.54 billion from $6.1 billion
  • Sall’s fortune increased to $3.23 billion from $3.1 billion

Neither Epic Games nor SAS comments about questions regarding the net worth of the three men.