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Howard Schultz: America's wealthy 'need to be paying more tax'

Julia La Roche

If former Starbucks (SBUX) CEO Howard Schultz were president he would increase taxes on the wealthy and corporations.

"[I've] been very public from day one, when I said that I thought the president made a big mistake when he had a great opportunity for comprehensive tax reform. And what did he do? He lowered the corporate tax rate to 21%,” Schultz said in a wide-ranging interview with Yahoo Finance.

“I had CEOs calling me saying, 'Why would you say that as a CEO? We're all going to benefit from that.' And I said, 'Because the answer to that question is, 'Yeah, we may all be benefiting from that, but the American people need to benefit from that.’”

A life-long Democrat, Schultz no longer recognizes the party he grew up in and now is “seriously considering” a presidential run as a centrist Independent.

Schultz, who grew up in public housing in the Canarsie neighborhood in Brooklyn and today has an estimated net-worth of $3.7 billion, argues that the tax rate for corporations should be higher, but with an incentive built in for companies to do the right thing for their employees and communities. At the same time, the government needs to do its part.

Former Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz speaks at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind., Thursday, Feb. 7, 2019. (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)

"The government in Washington and the president of the United States needs to demonstrate to the American people we're going to raise taxes on the wealthy," Schultz said, adding, "We're going to raise the corporate tax rate to 25%, 26%, whatever it might be. But in order to do that, we're going to demonstrate a level of fiscal responsibility. And one of things we're going to do is we're going to attack the national debt."

As for individual taxes on the wealthy, Schultz believes they should be higher, but didn’t provide specific numbers.

"This is not a time in America to give more tax breaks and loopholes to the wealthy," Schultz said. "This is a time in America where the wealthy need to be paying more tax."

Julia La Roche is a finance reporter at Yahoo Finance. Follow her on Twitter.