For Immediate Release
Wednesday, January 19, 2021
Over 100 Millionaires Call Out Davos Attendees in Scathing Letter Demanding They Tax the Rich: “You’re Part of the Problem”
“Show the people of the world that you deserve their trust. If you don’t, then all the private talks won’t change what’s coming – it’s taxes or pitchforks.”
New research shows that a wealth tax could lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the whole world, and deliver universal health care and social protection for 3.6 billion people
Washington, DC – Today, a group of over 100 millionaires and billionaires from nine countries published an open letter to Davos attendees including billionaires, corporate executives, and heads of state, demanding they embrace an aggressive agenda of taxing the rich.
The group published their letter during the World Economic Forum’s weeklong Davos Agenda, during which participants are expected to discuss critical global challenges and solutions. It says unless heads of state and government and CEOs acknowledge the “simple, effective solution staring them in the face —taxing the rich,” people around the world “will continue to see their so-called dedication to fixing the world’s problems as little more than a performance.”
Prominent signatories include American film producer and heiress Abigail Disney, American entrepreneur and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, and British entrepreneur, Gemma McGough.
These super-rich signatories are joining a growing chorus of voices around the world calling for greater taxation of the richest in light of record COVID-19 wealth gains at the top of society —gains that have seen the ten richest men more than double their fortunes to a staggering $1.5 trillion dollars.
This letter is being released in conjunction with a new analysis by the Patriotic Millionaires, Institute for Policy Studies, Fight Inequality Alliance, and Oxfam, that finds that a wealth tax starting at just 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 could generate $2.52 trillion a year.
More global findings from the analysis include:
- 3.6 million people have over $5 million in wealth, with a combined wealth of $75.3 trillion.
- 183,000 individuals own over $50 million, for a combined wealth of $36.4 trillion.
- There are 2,660 billionaires with a total combined wealth of $13.76 trillion.
- An annual wealth tax applied to the world’s richest would raise US $2.52 trillion a year (with a graduated rate structure: 2% tax on wealth over $5 million; 3% on wealth over $50 million; 5% on wealth over $1 billion).
An annual tax on the world’s richest would be enough 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 (3.6 billion people).
Their US analysis found:
- There are 740 U.S. billionaires with wealth totaling $5.1 trillion. Throughout the pandemic (beginning in mid-March 2020), the wealth of the US American billionaire class increased $2 trillion.
- The richest billionaire owns more wealth than the bottom 40% of U.S. society.
- U.S. billionaires own half a billion more in wealth than the bottom 60% of U.S. society.
- An annual wealth tax in the United States would raise $928.39 billion a year (with rates at 2% on wealth over $5 million, 3% on wealth over $50 million and 5% over $1 billion). This revenue could raise the government’s health budget by a third or it could eliminate half of U.S. households’ out of pocket health costs.
From a few signers, in their own words:
Morris Pearl, Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires and former managing director at BlackRock, Inc., said: ““There is no defending a system that endlessly inflates the wealth of the world’s richest people while condemning billions to easily preventable poverty. We need deep, systemic change, and that starts with taxing rich people like me.”
Gemma McGough, British entrepreneur and founding member of Patriotic Millionaires UK said: “A common value most people share is that if something’s not fair then it’s not right. But tax systems the world over have unfairness built-in, so why should people trust them? They are asked to shoulder our shared economic burden again and again, while the richest people watch their wealth, and their comfort, continue to rise. For all our well-being —rich and poor alike— it’s time we right the wrongs of an unequal world. It’s time we tax the rich.”
The letter was circulated by Patriotic Millionaires (US and UK), Tax Me Now, Millionaires for Humanity, Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, and Oxfam, and warns that “history paints a pretty bleak picture of what the endgame of extremely unequal societies looks like.”
Notes to editors
Download the letter and list of signatories.
Calculations for the wealth tax report 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 (30 November 2021). Download the methodology note and factsheet.