100 millionaires to world governments: Tax us more

‘Tax us, the rich, and tax us now’

Alex Woodward
New York
Wednesday 19 January 2022 20:35
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A group of more than 100 millionaires from the US and Europe have issued an open letter calling on their respective governments to tax them more heavily.

The letter – targeting some of the world’s wealthiest people attending the World Economic Forum – argued that “the bedrock of a strong democracy is a fair tax system.”

“As millionaires, we know that the current tax system is not fair,” they wrote. “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.”

The letter follows a report finding that a wealth tax applied to the world’s wealthiest people would raise $2.52 trillion a year – or more than $3.6 trillion a year with a more progressive tax structure – on household wealth over $5m, according to the report.

The report from Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam and Patriotic Millionaires found that such taxes could raise enough government revenues to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the whole world, and deliver universal health care and social protection for all the citizens of low and lower middle-income countries,” impacting 3.6 billion people.

A separate report from Oxfam released this week found that the 10 richest men in the world doubled their fortunes during the Covid-19 pandemic – with their wealth increasing from $700bn to $1.5 trillion between March 2020 and November 2021.

The combined wealth of American billionaires increased by $2 trillion over the course of the pandemic, when the collective fortunes of the nation’s wealthiest households topped more than $5 trillion.

An annual billionaires list compiled by Forbes in 2021 found that the world’s wealthiest people have amassed more than $13 trillion combined, growing by 30 per cent from the previous year.

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A vast majority of the hundreds of people on the Forbes list are wealthier today than they were onset of the global health emergency.

“This injustice baked into the foundation of the international tax system has created a colossal lack of trust between the people of the world and the elites who are the architects of this system,” the millionaire signatories wrote in their letter.

“Bridging that divide is going to take more than billionaire vanity projects or piecemeal philanthropic gestures – it’s going to take a complete overhaul of a system that up until now has been deliberately designed to make the rich richer,” they write. “Tax us, the rich, and tax us now.”

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