In response to the investigation from ProPublica on the taxes paid by billionaires in the US, the Patriotic Millionaires and its UK sister organisation, Partners In Progress, are calling for global leaders to focus recovery efforts on taxing the wealthiest people to reduce inequality, prevent further wealth hoarding, and build fairer economies post COVID.
Analysis in March from the Program on Inequality at the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), using data from Forbes, Bloomberg, and Wealth-X, demonstrated that the planet’s 2,365 billionaires saw their wealth increase US $4 trillion, or 54 percent, during the pandemic year. Their combined wealth rose from US $8.04 trillion to US $12.39 trillion between March 18, 2020 and March 18, 2021.
Morris Pearl, Chair of Patriotic Millionaires and former managing director at BlackRock, Inc., said:
“As a millionaire I know personally that our economy enshrines wealth for the few – to the detriment of ordinary people in our country. We all deserve more than a pre-COVID path to recovery. ProPublica’s report shows that taxing wealth has to be a primary policy for governments everywhere if we want to unpick the stitched-up system that we have.”
In response to the shocking findings from ProPublica, this network of millionaires is calling for world leaders to focus efforts on taxing wealth as a central pillar in national and global policy making.
If global billionaires had paid an annual wealth tax in 2020, modeled on the “Ultra-Millionaire Tax” levy proposed by U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren, they would have paid an estimated $345 billion in wealth taxes. Based on modest expectations of wealth growth, a small wealth tax such as this would raise $4.14 trillion over the next decade, according to IPS.
The annual revenue from this wealth tax would be more than twice the estimated $141.2 billion cost of delivering COVID-19 vaccines to every person on the planet, according to estimates from Oxfam.
The U.S. accounts for less than one-third of billionaire wealth on the global list. If this tax was applied to U.S. billionaires, Bezos, Bloomberg, Buffet, Musk, and Zuckerberg alone, it would have raised in excess of $17 billion.
“ProPublica’s investigation shows our tax system has baked in tax credits for billionaires – so a 3% tax on wealth over $1 billion is the bare minimum we can aim for. We need to foster a recovery beyond regressing to the same-old, same-old. We need to tax the rich.”
Gemma McGough, British entrepreneur and member of the Partners In Progress, UK sister organisation of the Patriotic Millionaires, said:
“Our economies are soft on the super-rich and hard on ordinary people. So as shocking as the figures in ProPublica’s report are, we can’t pretend to be that surprised. And the injustice we see in the US is happening the world over. As a millionaire, I know I can afford to pay more, so it goes without saying that the world’s billionaires should be taxed to the hilt. We need to tax the rich to reduce economic inequality and secure more equal societies.”
Chuck Collins, researcher for the Program on Inequality at IPS said:
“The billionaire pandemic windfalls should be taxed to cover the cost of vaccinating the world and reducing inequality throughout the global economy. Unless we tax the world’s billionaires, the legacy of the pandemic will be accelerated concentrations of wealth and power.”