By Morgan Miles, Staff Writer
Over 100 billionaires and millionaires from equality advocacy groups became signatories on a letter that implores political and business leaders around the world to tax the rich at higher rates.
A joint initiative between Patriotic Millionaires, Millionaires for Humanity and TaxMeNow, some of the world’s richest people signed a letter that called for fairer tax systems. Disney heiress Abigail Disney and early Amazon investor Nick Hanauer are the most notable signatories.
The open letter — named “In Tax We Trust” — was written for attendees of the virtual 2022 World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Every year, the event only allows the world’s richest and most powerful to attend.
Disney has previously attended the Davos conference and shared on Twitter that she felt repulsed by the exclusiveness.
“It’s not the 1% at Davos that have got the answers to the inequality crisis, it is the people who are facing those inequalities,” Disney said.
The letter comes on the heels of a pandemic which has further exposed universal wealth inequality.
Global charity Oxfam’s report on wealth said that since March 2020 the world’s 10 richest men have doubled their collective fortunes. Meanwhile, the poor sunk deeper into poverty; lower incomes contributed to 21,000 deaths per day. Oxfam’s reports and others like it have compelled groups such as the Patriotic Millionaires to take initiative.
The United Kingdom’s branch of Patriotic Millionaires, Oxfam, the Fight Inequality Alliance and the Institute for Policy Studies conducted an analysis on annual taxes for the world’s richest people. They found that a graduated rate structure starting at a 2% tax on wealth on people with more than $5 million, 3% for people with over $50 million, and 5% tax for billionaires would raise a collective $2.52 trillion a year.
Globally, $2.5 trillion could help more than two billion people escap poverty. In lower-income countries, $2.5 trillion could guarantee 3.6 billion citizens healthcare and social protection; $2.5 trillion could also make enough vaccines for the world.
In the UK, taxing the wealthiest people at the same rates would raise £43.71 billion (U.S. $59.21 billion), which would pay for the salaries of 50,000 nurses and eradicate the need for a scheduled National Insurance — an extra tax to fund social care in England.
“99% of people in the world saw their incomes fall during the pandemic… If you are in the 1%, then you look at your own situation and see it’s not the same — that’s not right,” Gemma McGough, an entrepreneur and founding member of Patriotic Millionaires UK said. “…it’s time we right the wrongs of an unequal world. It’s time we tax the rich.”
Though only 100 people were signatories for “In Tax We Trust,” a spokesperson for the World Economic Forum claimed that the forum’s tenets already included paying a fair share of taxes. The spokesperson also mentioned that the Sweden-based organization could use its own country as a model to implement wealth taxes elsewhere.
A handful of countries in Europe and South America are the only examples of places using wealth taxes. In Argentina, wealth taxes were spurred by the pandemic in 2021. The Argentinian government raised the equivalent of U.S. $2.4 billion for COVID-19 relief with a wealth tax on citizens with assets worth more than 200 million pesos (U.S. $9.76 million).
“In Tax We Trust” ends with a warning: for governments around the world to confront wealth inequality, or face the repercussions of inaction.