Over 100 millionaires call for wealth taxes on the richest to raise revenue that could lift billions out of poverty
As millionaires worldwide call on businesses and governments to tax the rich, new research shows a small wealth tax on the UK’s ultra wealthy could pay for the Health and Social Care Levy twice-over and more, eliminating the need to raise National Insurance.
A group of over 100 millionaires and billionaires from nine countries published today an open letter to government and business leaders, calling for permanent wealth taxes on the very richest to help reduce extreme inequality and raise revenue for sustained, long-term increases in public services like healthcare.
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.
According to new analysis by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam and the Patriotic Millionaires, 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. Taxing the UK’s wealthiest 119,000 people at these rates would raise £43.71 billion a year, enough to:
- Pay for the Health and Social Care Levy twice over every year – eliminating the need to raise National Insurance on working people
- Cover the salaries of an additional 50, 000 new nurses.
- Pay for the permanent increase of Universal Credit
- Build 35,000 affordable houses and retrofit our nation’s draughtiest homes to reduce the cost of energy bills and help fight climate change.
Globally, $2.52 trillion could lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty; make enough vaccines for the world and deliver universal healthcare and social protection for all the citizens of low- and lower- middle-income countries (3.6 billion people).
The letter says that while the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, the richest have seen their wealth rise during the pandemic and very few —if any— are paying their fair share in taxes. The group urges governments to “tax us, the rich, and tax us now.”
The analysis found that globally:
- 3.6 million people have over $5 million in wealth, with a combined wealth of $75.3 trillion.
- 183,000 people own $50 million or more, with a combined wealth of $36.4 trillion.
- 2,660 billionaires have a total combined wealth of $13.76 trillion.
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.
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.”
McGough added: “Taxing a small group of very wealthy people in the UK would be enough to pay for the Health and Social Care Levy twice over – as well as a whole host of other things the people of this country need. At a time when simply living will cost the average household a further £1200 a year, our Government cannot expect to be trusted if it would rather tax working people than wealthy people. If they do anything in the next few months, they should do this: rather than raising National Insurance, tax the rich – tax us – instead.”
Jenny Ricks, Global Convenor of the Fight Inequality Alliance said, “The insane reality is that whilst billions face a daily struggle to survive during this pandemic, billionaire wealth is spiralling out of control. This cannot be right. The multiple crises we face from vaccine inequality to climate breakdown have a vice-like grip on people’s lives that is not letting up. For years Davos has shown us the elites cannot and will not end the virus of inequality they have helped to create and built their fortunes on the back of.”
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 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.
For interviews and further information contact Rebecca Gowland in the UK, Patriotic Millionaires, r[email protected], +44 (0) 7968 821093