Proud to Pay More

If there’s one thing that we want the world leaders at Davos to know, it’s this: we would be proud to pay more in taxes.

This week, over 2,800 elites from business, academia, politics, civil society, and the arts are attending the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland – better known as simply “Davos.” The theme of this year’s conference is “Rebuilding Trust,” with many discussions centering around geopolitical conflicts in Gaza and Ukraine, artificial intelligence, and climate change.

Today, along with several of our allies, the Patriotic Millionaires released a host of products which we hope will encourage the world leaders at Davos to find the political will to raise taxes on wealthy people like us. Rebuilding trust and conquering any and all of humanity’s most pressing problems must, as a rule, involve higher taxes on the rich, and we’re a group of them who would be proud to pay more.

The first of our products is a poll that our organization conducted among millionaires in G20 countries to assess their attitudes towards extreme wealth and taxation. The survey was conducted by Survation and polled 2,385 respondents with over $1 million in investable assets in all G20 countries; they comprised the richest 5 percent of their respective countries.

The poll found that over three-quarters of millionaires in G20 countries support higher taxes on wealth and over half think that wealth is a threat to democracy. (Looks like we’re not the only rich people that would like to be taxed more, after all!) Key findings include:

  • 75 percent support the introduction of a 2 percent wealth tax on billionaires
  • 58 percent support the introduction of a 2 percent wealth tax for people with more than $10 million
  • 54 percent think that extreme wealth is a threat to democracy
  • 74 percent support higher taxes on wealth to help address the cost of living crisis and improve public services
  • 72 percent think that extreme wealth helps buy political influence
  • 70 percent think the economy would be stronger if we increased taxes on extreme wealth to invest in public services and national infrastructure
  • 66 percent would support higher taxes on themselves if they were used to invest in public services and stronger national infrastructure
  • 57 percent believe that extreme wealth prevents others from improving their living standards and hinders social mobility
  • 53 percent think that extreme wealth exacerbates climate change

The findings of the poll were included in our Proud to Pay More report, which also featured profiles from ten millionaires from G20 countries in which they gave their personal “why” behind their wish to be taxed more. Their stories touched on themes of tax fairness, inherited wealth and wealth transfers, climate change, social mobility, democracy, entrepreneurship, and more. Three of our own members – Morris Pearl, Abigail Disney, and John Driscoll – were among those featured.

Lastly, along with our allies at taxmenow, Millionaires for Humanity, and Oxfam, the Patriotic Millionaires organized a global letter campaign – Proud to Pay More – among wealthy people demanding that the world leaders at Davos raise our taxes. In the end, the letter attracted 260 signatures from millionaires and billionaires across 17 countries, including famous names like actors Brian Cox and Simon Pegg, director and screenwriter Richard Curtis, Abigail Disney, and Valerie Rockefeller. Other signers came from a variety of backgrounds and included financiers, tech entrepreneurs, business leaders, inheritors, as well as economists and traders. The letter was hand-delivered by two of our friends at taxmenow, Marlene Engelhorn and Stefanie Bremer, in Davos to Amitabh Behar, the Executive Director of Oxfam International who is attending the forum. (You may recognize Marlene, who recently made the news for her initiative to redistribute her own wealth in Austria.)

Our letter and poll have already attracted a great deal of media coverage, including in high profile outlets like The GuardianSpear’s, The IndependentThe NationalInternational Business TimesFast CompanyCNBC, and Truthout. One of our board members, Chuck Collins, also penned an op-ed for Fortune, in which he highlighted our products and stressed the urgent need for world leaders at Davos to curb threats to democracy by taxing the rich.

Tomorrow, several of our members will also be profiled on a prime time segment of “Envoyé spécial” on France 2, the French equivalent of CBS’s 60 Minutes in the US. The segment will also likely feature footage from one of our Great Economy Project sessions in Mount Pleasant, Pennsylvania. You can tune in to watch the program tomorrow at 9 PM CET (3 PM ET) at this link.

Our Davos products and media hits come on the heels of a bombshell report – Inequality Inc – from Oxfam. The findings from the report are jaw-dropping and illustrate in stark detail the extreme degree to which inequality has spiraled in recent years. Top-line takeaways include:

  • The world’s five richest men have more than doubled their fortunes to $869 billion since 2020 —at a rate of $14 million per hour— while nearly five billion people have become poorer.
  • The world could have its first trillionaire in just a decade, but poverty won’t be eradicated for another 229 years. (Our very own Senior Tax Policy Advisor, Bob Lord, independently reached a similar conclusion through his own analysis!)
  • A billionaire is running or is the principal shareholder of 7 out of 10 of the world’s biggest corporations.
  • 148 top corporations made $1.8 trillion in profits in the year through June 2023, a 52 percent increase over their average net profits between 2018-2021, and gave huge payouts to rich shareholders while hundreds of millions faced cuts in real-term pay.

The World Economic Forum has been conducting its famous annual meeting in Davos for decades, but over the years, the conference has become more well-known for its massive contingent of private jets, gold-leaf desserts, and wild parties (replete with laser-eyed stuffed animal heads and all) than for any meaningful, concrete actions or solutions that have come out of the forum’s many discussions and panels. In short, if the elite attendees really cared about addressing humanity’s most pressing problems as they say they do, they simply would not have let inequality grow so extreme – and, frankly, we wouldn’t have to conduct our campaign in the first place.

We hope that our products inspire world leaders at Davos to reverse course and finally start using the conference as a moment to work together to make real and lasting change and rebuild trust. But any change on any front requires wealthy people like us to pay more in tax, which we would be proud to do. Our planet, economies, and democracies can’t afford to wait.

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