Millionaires urge governments to ‘tax us now’ as they admit current system is unfair

More than 102 of global super-rich admit “few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share”

Furvah Shah
Wednesday 19 January 2022 16:00
<p>Abigail Disney, granddaughter of The Walt Disney Company co-founder Roy O Disney, is one of 102 super-rich signers of the open letter</p>

Abigail Disney, granddaughter of The Walt Disney Company co-founder Roy O Disney, is one of 102 super-rich signers of the open letter

More than 100 millionaires and billionaires are asking governments around the world to raise their taxes to help combat the wealth gap between rich and poor.

An open letter signed by 102 of the super-rich called for fairer taxes so trust can be restored in politics, and said the money raised could also help pay for the Covid recovery.

In the letter, signatories including Disney heiress Abigail Disney and early Amazon investor Nick Hanauer admitted the current system is rigged in their favour. They wrote: “Few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share.”

Members of the organisation In Tax We Trust describe a fair tax system as a “bedrock of a strong democracy”.

They wrote: “As millionaires, we know that the current tax system is not fair. Most of us can say that, while the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic – yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes.”

During the pandemic, American billionaires alone made $1.3 trillion (£950bn) and saw their net worth increase by almost 45 per cent between 2020 and 2021.

They argue in the letter, published on Wednesday, that the current international taxation system creates mistrust and injustices between everyday people and “elites who are the architects of this system”, and an overhaul is needed.

“To put it simply, restoring trust requires taxing the rich. The world – every country in it – must demand the rich pay their fair share. Tax us, the rich, and tax us now,” they said.

“History paints a pretty bleak picture of what the endgame of extremely unequal societies looks like. For all our wellbeing – rich and poor alike – it’s time to confront inequality and choose to tax the rich. Show the people of the world that you deserve their trust.”

It has been published as world and business leaders attend the virtual Davos World Economic Forum (WEF).

The letter – with signatories from nine countries such as the US, UK and Germany – describes the WEF as an “exclusive” “private forum” which has “produced little tangible value amidst a torrent of self-congratulations”.

The forum aims to improve the state of the world by engaging with political, business and cultural leaders across the globe.

A spokesperson for the WEF told Reuters that paying fairer taxes was one of the forum’s tenets and a wealth tax – such as in Switzerland, where the forum is held – could be beneficial to implement elsewhere.

It comes as a new report suggests a wealth tax on billionaires and multi-millionaires in the UK would make a hike in national insurance contributions needless.

The revenue could pay the salaries of 50,000 new nurses, permanently increase universal credit by £20 a week, and build 35,000 new affordable houses, the report said.

According to calculations from Oxfam and the organisations Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies, and Patriotic Millionaires, an annual tax applied to the wealth of billionaires and multi-millionaires in the UK would raise £43.71bn a year.

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