Millionaires call on global elite to tax them more

Demonstrators take part in a protest against the World Economic Forum (WEF) during the WEF annual meeting in Davos on May 22, 2022.

Fabrice Cofrini | AFP | Getty Images

A group of more than 150 millionaires are calling on elite attendees at this year’s World Economic Forum in Davos to tax them more.

The group, known as ‘Patriotic Millionaires’, released an open letter on Monday reiterating calls for WEF participants to ‘recognize the danger of unchecked wealth inequality around the world and publicly support efforts to tax the rich”.

“Tax us rich and tax us now,” read the letter, which included actor Mark Ruffalo and heiress Abigail Disney among its signatories.

They explained in the letter that the inequality built into the international tax system has created mistrust between the world’s people and its wealthy elites.

To restore that trust, the group argued it would require a “complete overhaul of a system that until now has been deliberately designed to enrich the wealthy”.

“To put it simply, restoring trust requires taxing the rich,” the millionaires said.

They said the WEF summit in Davos did not deserve the trust of the world at this time, given the lack of “tangible value” that had resulted from discussions at previous events.

Some of the millionaires even staged pro-taxation protests in Davos over the weekend.

Cost of living crisis

This latest plea by the rich to be taxed more comes as rising prices drive up the cost of living for people around the world.

Patriotic Millionaires referred to an Oxfam memoir, published on Monday, which revealed that a billionaire had been punched every 30 hours in the first two years of the Covid-19 pandemic. Oxfam has estimated that nearly a million people could fall into extreme poverty at a similar rate in 2022.

Julia Davies, founding member of Patriotic Millionaires UK, said that as “outrageous as governments seem totally inactive on the cost of living, it is equally outrageous that they allow extreme wealth to remain in the hands of so many little”. people.”

Davies added that “global crises are not accidental, they are the result of poor economic design.”

“Race to the bottom” on corporate tax

Speaking to CNBC’s Geoff Cutmore at a panel in Davos on Tuesday, Oxfam executive director Gabriela Bucher said last year’s multilateral agreement proposing companies pay at least 15% income tax, did not go far enough.

The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development tax reform agreement was signed by 136 countries and jurisdictions in October, although it has yet to be implemented.

Bucher pointed out that if the agreed rate had been set at 25%, as recommended by tax experts around the world, it would bring in an additional $17 billion for the developing world.

Bucher also worried that the deal, at the current level, would lead to a “race to the bottom” for corporate taxes and that countries with higher rates could actually lower them.

“There is a danger that we are not really using this important tool at this time when we have so many competing crises,” she said, referring to a hunger crisis both in the world in development and in wealthier countries because of the soaring cost of living. .

Bucher then said that “you can accumulate as much wealth as you want, but if everything ends around you, it doesn’t make much sense”.

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