Make us pay more tax, millionaires group tells World Economic Forum
- The ‘Patriotic Millionaires’ group said in an open letter that the wealthy should pay more for Covid-19 recovery
- The plea came as the fortunes of the world’s 10 richest individuals rose to US$1.5 trillion over the past two years
Reuters reported last year on the staggering rise in billionaires’ wealth, as the world went into lockdown and the global economy faced its worst recession since second world war, prompting the millionaires’ group to call for higher taxes.
While that spurred more than 130 countries to agree a deal to ensure big companies pay a global minimum tax rate, aimed at making it harder for them to avoid taxation, the millionaires said the wealthy still needed to contribute more.
Over the course of the two years of the pandemic, the fortunes of the world’s 10 richest individuals have risen to US$1.5 trillion – or by US$15,000 a second – a study by Oxfam this week showed.
In the letter, the signatories including Disney heiress Abigail Disney and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer told Davos participants convening for a week of online power-brokering and talks: “You’re not going to find the answer in a private forum … you’re part of the problem.”
A spokesperson for the World Economic Forum said paying a fair share of taxes was one of the forum’s tenets, and a wealth tax – as exists in Switzerland, where the organisation is based – could be a good model to deploy elsewhere.
In most countries outside a handful in Europe and some recent joiners in South America, the rich do not have to pay annual taxes on assets such as real estate, stocks or artwork, because they are taxed only when the asset is sold.
According to a study conducted by the Patriotic Millionaires together with Oxfam and other non-profits, a progressive wealth tax starting at 2 per cent for those with more than US$5 million and rising to 5 per cent for billionaires could raise US$2.52 trillion, enough globally to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty and guarantee health care and social protection for individuals living in lower income countries.
The World Bank in 2021 published an article urging countries to consider a wealth tax to help reduce inequality, replenish state coffers depleted by Covid-19 relief schemes and regain social trust.
However, outside Argentina and Colombia, no new wealth tax schemes have been initiated since the start of the pandemic.