Jamie Dimon says lower-income people need more help and he'd 'pay for it by taxing the wealthy a little bit more'

For Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, taxing the rich more to help support the poor is “as much of a no-brainer policy as I have ever seen.” The dean of Wall Street CEOs has spoken, and he says the wealthy aren’t paying their fair share in taxes—sort of.

It’s all about the earned income tax credit, or EITC, which is the wonky and complicated way that Congress has figured out how to help people under the complicated U.S. tax code.

At a panel discussion on Friday in Washington, D.C., hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, Dimon said it’s clear to him that low-income populations need more financial support from the government. To bring them that money, he said, “I would pay for it by taxing the wealthy more.” 

Lawmakers in Congress are debating reforms and changes for the EITC, America’s most popular anti-poverty program disguised as a tax credit, as well as the Child Tax Credit, which overwhelmingly helps low-income families.

Dimon’s suggestion is to find a way to expand the EITC to give more to poorer Americans and to increase taxes on wealthier Americans to pay for it. 

“This is as much of a no-brainer policy as I have ever seen,” Dimon said, adding that the hustle to survive for working-class groups in a more expensive world is just harder today than in years past. “With all of the polarization we have today,” he said, “the low-income folks have more crime, worse health, less good schools. I think it’s unbelievable.”

Although Dimon’s comments sound similar to a “wealth tax,” which has been enacted in countries outside the U.S. but has faced domestic opposition for potentially being unconstitutional, it was not clear exactly what change to the tax code Dimon was advocating, beyond a general principle.

Dimon, who netted a record pay package in 2023 of $36 million after leading JPMorgan to a record-setting run of profitability unparalleled in the annals of investment banking, has become known as the voice of Wall Street, not least for his statesmanlike annual letters on the state of his bank. He often sounds like a head of state, holding forth on social and economic issues, and his potential candidacy for higher office has become a favorite fantasy for business leaders such as Bill Ackman, the hedge fund billionaire who gained a new level of notoriety for his campaign against Harvard’s current leadership. (Dimon is a Democrat, according to donations he has made in the past, although in 2012 he called himself “barely a Democrat.”)

At the Bipartisan Policy Center, Dimon sounded like he was drafting another letter about the workings of the country. “There are so many tax breaks out there that shouldn’t be there,” he said.

According to Bloomberg, which attended the event, Dimon’s remarks prompted a response from a prominent Republican sitting alongside him: former House Speaker Paul Ryan. 

The former Wisconsin representative, who was Mitt Romney’s pick for vice president during his unsuccessful 2012 run against Barack Obama, took the opportunity to highlight a tax break long opposed by the GOP: “SALT,” he said, referring to the State And Local Tax deduction, which Donald Trump capped in 2017. “Let’s get rid of SALT completely,” Ryan added, advocating for a longtime goal of red-state Republicans that would hit the wallets of residents of wealthy blue states, especially homeowners with multiple properties.

Sticking to his principles, Dimon concurred. “I agree with you,” he said. “And here I’m a New Yorker, and all my friends in New York hate me.” 

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