It’s not everyday rich people demand governments to tax them. But a group of 102 ultra-wealthy individuals, or the "Patriotic Millionaires" as they call themselves, did just that on Wednesday.
"The world - every country in it - must demand the rich pay their fair share. Tax us, the rich, and tax us now,” the letter said.
The organisation condemned the lack of action taken in the global forum, which brings together heads of state and government, business leaders, organisations and civil society for meetings, addresses and panels in Switzerland’s Geneva.
“For all the countless hours spent talking about making the world a better place, the conference has produced little tangible value amidst a torrent of self-congratulations,” the organisation, whose members include Disney heiress Abigail Disney, said.
Instead of these “private talks”, the group proposed a wealth tax that they say could help fund vaccines worldwide, lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty and provide universal healthcare to 3.6 billion people in lower income countries.
READ MORE: Will the push to tax the super-rich work?
The organisation’s proposed wealth tax came from a joint study with a network of nonprofits and social movements including Fight for Inequality Alliance and global charity Oxfam.
Their report found that there are 3.6 million people with over $5 million in wealth, 183,300 households with over $50 million and 2,660 billionaires in the world.
Their plan would tax those worth over $5 million at two percent, those worth over $50 million at three percent and those worth over $1 billion at five percent.
Taxing these groups at their proposed rates, The Patriotic Millionaires said the wealth tax would generate $2.52 trillion a year.
Moreover, their more progressive tax rate could raise $3.62 trillion a year if a 5 percent tax is applied to those with a wealth of over $50 million and 10 percent to billionaires.
The rich got richer
The World Economic Forum’s virtual event, which began on January 17, comes as Oxfam released its latest study that found the world’s ten richest people more than doubled their fortunes during the last two years of the pandemic.
While the incomes of 99 percent of humanity fell and over 160 million more people were forced into poverty, the wealth of these billionaires rose from $700 billion to $1.5 trillion.
This increase occurred “at a rate of $15,000 per second or $1.3 billion a day,” their briefing titled “Inequality Kills” said.
“If these ten men were to lose 99.999 percent of their wealth tomorrow, they would still be richer than 99 percent of all the people on this planet,” Oxfam’s Executive Director Gabriela Bucher said.
The study also found that inequality contributes to the death of at least 21,000 people each day, or one person every four seconds.
Referencing the findings, The Patriotic Millionaires highlighted the injustice of this inequality during
"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 group told the forum.
Global minimum tax rate
Last year, the G20 leaders endorsed a global minimum tax rate of 15 percent for big companies to tackle tax evasion.
The Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, which hosted the accord’s negotiations, estimates the minimum tax will generate $150 billion in additional global tax revenues annually.
The Patriotic Millionaires celebrated the deal, agreed to by 136 countries, but urged further action.
“While we maintain that a 15 percent rate is far too low to address the growing crisis of global inequality, it is terrific to see the world come together and progress forward in the fight for tax fairness,” said Morris Pearle, Chair of the Patriotic Millionaires.
As the world continues to face its worst recession since World War II, the group warned Davos participants: “you’re not going to find the answer in a private forum, surrounded by other millionaires and billionaires and the world’s most powerful people.”
“You're part of the problem.”