For Immediate Release
January 17, 2023
More Than 200 Millionaires from 13 Countries Demand Global Leaders At Davos Tax Extreme Wealth
New letter from global millionaires including Mark Ruffalo and Abigail Disney challenges Davos attendees to address the crisis of extreme wealth by taxing the rich.
As these millionaires petition global leaders for change, a new report finds that an annual wealth tax on the world’s richest could raise $1.7 trillion globally.
Davos, Switzerland – As the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting continues in Davos, Switzerland, over 200 millionaires from 13 countries have joined together to urge global leaders to face up to one of the world’s most neglected forms of extremism – that of concentrated wealth.
Millionaires from multiple backgrounds – including business leaders old and new from tech, food, and energy companies, celebrities Mark Ruffalo and Abigail Disney, as well as inheritors and investors – state in the letter entitled The Cost of Extreme Wealth that:
‘The history of the last five decades is a story of wealth flowing nowhere but upwards. In the last few years, this trend has greatly accelerated…The solution is plain for all to see. You, our global representatives, have to tax us, the ultra rich, and you have to start now.’
‘Tax the ultra rich and do it now. It’s simple, common-sense economics. It is an investment in our common good and a better future that we all deserve, and as millionaires we want to make that investment.’
Click here to see a full list of the letter’s signatories. Comments from some include:
Morris Pearl, Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires, former managing director at BlackRock, Inc., and signatory of the letter said, “The World Economic Forum meeting in Davos has become largely irrelevant, little more than an exercise in self congratulation for the world’s elites to convince themselves that they’re making a difference. They refuse to accept an obvious truth – the cause of inequality is the rich getting richer and richer without paying any taxes. If the world leaders and billionaires at Davos want the world to start taking them seriously, they need to earn that respect. That starts with taking inequality seriously, and taxing the rich.”
Abigail Disney, Emmy-winning documentary filmmaker, activist, and member of the Patriotic Millionaires, said, “Extreme wealth is eating our world alive. It is undermining our democracies, destabilizing our economies, and destroying our climate. But for all their talk about solving the world’s problems, the attendees of Davos refuse to discuss the only thing that can make a real impact – taxing the rich. I’ve been to Davos. I’ve sat in the same room with some of the richest and most powerful people in the world as they talk about how they can make a difference, so I can say this with firsthand experience – Davos is a farce. Until Davos attendees start talking about taxing the rich, the entire gathering will remain a very public example of how out of touch they really are.”
The letter comes alongside new analysis conducted by the Patriotic Millionaires, the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, and Oxfam that shows how quickly extreme wealth is growing around the world. The analysis shows that the total number of people in the world with at least $5 million dollars in net wealth has grown by 52.9 percent over the last decade, and individuals with a net wealth of $50 million or more have enjoyed similar growth levels. Meanwhile, the global billionaire class has more than doubled, and their wealth has skyrocketed at a similar rate – 99.62 percent to be exact. This is a gain of more than $5 trillion.
The introduction of annual wealth taxes could serve as a key solution to addressing extreme wealth. According to the report’s analysis, if a wealth tax was introduced globally, starting at 2 percent annually for those with more than $5 million, 3 percent for those with over $50 million, and rising to 5 percent annually for billionaires, the global revenue potential could be $1.7 trillion a year.
In the US, even introducing such a tax only on those with over $50 million, a group of less than 65,000 people, or just 0.02 percent of the US population, the potential revenue raised would be nearly $355 billion a year. More than half of that ($192 billion) would be raised from billionaires in the US, a group of less than 750.
Chuck Collins, board member of the Patriotic Millionaires and director of the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, said, “The concentration of wealth in the hands of the ultra-wealthy is endangering our democracy, economic stability, and social cohesion. Our failure to tax the rich effectively is making things much, much worse. The US system for taxing income and inheritances is regressive, porous and ineffective at both reducing inequality and raising revenue. The only reasonable way to fix our extreme wealth problem is by taxing that wealth directly – we need a national wealth tax, starting on households with wealth over $50 million.
These millionaires’ support for action on extreme wealth comes as a poll of 135 economists from more than 40 countries (page 3 of the report) says inequality is rising thanks in large part to regressive tax systems.
A survey of economists’ views on inequality and tax within the report found that 71 percent believe that rising inequality in their country is partly caused by falling taxes on the rich, with 73 percent believing that the rich pay fewer taxes in proportion to their income than the average citizen in their country. 71 percent also think there is scope for increasing taxes on the rich in their country over the next five years.
The paper also highlights the extensive public attitude polling on inequality and taxes, conducted in G20 countries over the last six years by multiple agencies, all of which show an overwhelming public support for taxing the rich.
Marlene Engelhorn, co-founder of taxmenow, author, and millionaire signatory on the letter, said, “The whole world – economists, the public, activists, and millionaires alike – can see the solution that is staring us all right in the face: if we care about the safety of democracy, about our communities, and our planet, we have to tax the ultra rich. And yet our decision-makers either don’t have the gumption or don’t feel the need to listen to all of these voices. It begs the question, ‘What, or who, is stopping them?’”
The letter from global millionaires was hand-delivered to attendees of the WEF Annual Meeting by Patriotic Millionaires member Phil White and Marlene Engelhorn of taxmenow, who will be in Davos this entire week. It was circulated by Patriotic Millionaires and PMUK, Tax Me Now, Millionaires for Humanity, Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, and Oxfam, and reminds political leaders: “Extremes are unsustainable, often dangerous, and rarely tolerated for long. So why, in this age of multiple crises, do you continue to tolerate extreme wealth?”
Notes for Editors
Download The Cost of Extreme Wealth letter and list of signatories
Please contact Sam Quigley at [email protected]
Calculations are based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources available. Data on the richest individuals is from Wealth-X and figures on billionaires come from Forbes’s Billionaires List. Download the report here.
Patriotic Millionaires – Sam Quigley, [email protected]
Institute for Policy Studies – Olivia Alperstein, [email protected]
Patriotic Millionaires UK – Rebecca Gowland, [email protected]