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‘Tax the rich!’ say the rich

A group of billionaires and multi-millionaires have penned an open letter to world leaders asking them to raise taxes for the super-rich

Normally calls to “tax the rich” come from Ordinary People, but no longer: more than 200 members of the super-rich elite are calling on governments around the world to “tax us, the ultra-rich, now” in order to help billions of people struggling with rising living costs.

The group of millionaires and billionaires from 13 countries includes Disney heiress Abigail Disney, son of the Greggs bakery founder Ian Gregg, and The Hulk actor Mark Ruffalo. Today, they published an open letter calling on world leaders and business executives meeting for the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos to introduce wealth taxes as a matter of urgency. 

“We are living in an age of extremes. Rising poverty and widening wealth inequality; the rise of anti-democratic nationalism; extreme weather and ecological decline; deep vulnerabilities in our shared social systems; and the shrinking opportunity for billions of ordinary people to earn a livable wage,” the letter says. “Extremes are unsustainable, often dangerous, and rarely tolerated for long. So why, in this age of multiple crises, do you continue to tolerate extreme wealth?”

“The history of the last five decades is a story of wealth flowing nowhere but upwards [...] Billionaires and millionaires have watched their wealth grow by trillions of dollars, while the cost of simply living is now crippling ordinary families across the world,” it continues.

“The solution is plain for all to see. You, our global representatives, have to tax us, the ultra-rich, and you have to start now.”

The super-rich signatories stressed that inaction from world leaders would lead to further suffering. “There’s only so much stress any society can take, only so many times mothers and fathers will watch their children go hungry while the ultra-rich contemplate their growing wealth. The cost of action is much cheaper than the cost of inaction – it’s time to get on with the job.”

The letter comes as new research published by Oxfam on Monday found that almost two-thirds of the new wealth amassed since the start of the pandemic has gone to the richest one per cent in the world. According to the study, for the first time in 25 years, the rise in extreme wealth was accompanied by a corresponding rise in extreme poverty.

Oxfam added a tax of up to five per cent on the world’s super-rich could raise $1.7tn a year, enough to lift 2 billion people out of poverty, and fund a global plan to end hunger.