This content is not available in your region

Global millionaires call governments for higher taxes to reduce wealth inequality

Access to the comments Comments
By Josephine Joly  with AFP
euronews_icons_loading
Satirical "corporations and the wealthy" protest outside the White House, on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Washington.
Satirical "corporations and the wealthy" protest outside the White House, on Thursday, Nov. 4, 2021, in Washington.   -   Copyright  Joy Asico / AP

A group of more than 100 of the world's richest people named the "Patriotic Millionaires" have called on governments to make them contribute more taxes to the global economic recovery.

The millionaires from around the world say current tax systems are "not fair" and increasing wealth taxes would help resolve inequalities made dramatically worse by the COVID-19 health crisis.

In an open letter published online Wednesday — mid-way through Davos, the World Economic Forum's annual meeting being held virtually this year — they asked governments to tax them at higher rates.

The signatories of the letter, which was the result of a joint initiative from equality advocacy groups Patriotic Millionaires, Millionaires for Humanity, and TaxMeNow, said current tax systems were "not fair".

"Most of us can say that, while the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic — yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes," the letter read.

"The world — every country in it — must demand the rich pay their fair share," millionaires from the US, UK, Germany, Canada, Denmark, Austria, the Netherlands, Norway, and Iran wrote.

The letter came as Oxfam released a report on Monday detailing how the world's ten richest men have more than doubled their collective fortunes during the coronavirus pandemic, while COVID-19 has pushed an extra 160 million people into poverty.

I've been to Davos. It grossed me out. The idea that many billionaires have to gather in a teeny, tiny place that regular folk can't get into to discuss matters does not create trust.
Abigail Disney
Grandniece of founder Walt Disney

This is the third letter the group has sent, and high-profile signatories include Abigail Disney, grandniece of animator and entrepreneur Walt Disney, and Nick Hanauer, an early investor in Amazon.

In a Twitter video, Disney was scathing about the Davos conference, where invitees typically include business leaders, senior politicians, and billionaires.

This year, the theme of the conference is "working together to restore trust".

"I've been to Davos. It grossed me out. The idea that many billionaires have to gather in a teeny, tiny place that regular folk can't get into to discuss matters does not create trust," Disney said.

An annual wealth tax applied to the world's richest would be sufficient to make enough vaccines for the whole world and deliver universal health care and social protection for all of the 3.6 billion citizens of low and lower-middle-income countries.

Research from Credit Suisse found that the global number of millionaires rose to 56.1 million in 2020, an increase of 5.1 million in a year.

For political leaders at Davos, the open letter delivered a more direct warning.

"History paints a pretty bleak picture of what the endgame of extremely unequal societies looks like," they wrote. "It's taxes or pitchforks."