'Tax us': World's super-rich call for wealth tax to fund coronavirus relief

A group of 83 millionaires called for a permanent wealth tax to fund coronavirus relief efforts.

Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's
Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of Ben & Jerry's Homemade Holdings, Inc., is among those who have called for a permanent wealth tax to fuel economic relief during the coronavirus pandemic. Image: REUTERS/Brendan McDermid

A group of the world’s super-rich including heiress Abigail Disney and the co-founder of Ben & Jerry’s urged governments on Monday to raise their taxes to help impoverished populations survive the coronavirus and its economic fallout.

In an open letter, the 83 individuals with net worths of tens or hundreds of millions of US dollars called for a permanent wealth tax to fuel economic relief.

“Unlike tens of millions of people around the world, we do not have to worry about losing our jobs, our homes, or our ability to support our families,” the group said.

“So please. Tax us. Tax us. Tax us.”

The letter was released before finance ministers and central bank governors from the Group of 20 leading economies are set to meet online on July 18 to tackle the global economic disorder from the pandemic.

Due to global shutdowns, the world economy is forecast to shrink 3.2 per cent this year, according to a Reuters poll of more than 250 economists.

Humanity is more important than our money.

Forecasts for global economic growth had tended to range from 2.3 per cent to 3.6 per cent before the pandemic struck.

The fallout could increase global poverty by as much as half a billion people, or 8 per cent of the world population, according to research released in April by the United Nations University.

In April the impact of the pandemic led to the loss of more than 20.5 million jobs in the United States, the world’s largest economy, the steepest plunge since the Great Depression.

The world’s wealthiest owe a “huge debt” to the world’s essential workers, who confront the deadly virus every day and are “grossly underpaid,” the group said.

“We must rebalance our world before it is too late. There will not be another chance to get this right,” the letter said.

“Humanity is more important than our money.”

The letter was organized by Oxfam, Patriotic Millionaires, Human Act, Tax Justice UK, Club of Rome, Resource Justice, and Bridging Ventures. Most of the signatories were from the United States.

The number of reported coronavirus cases worldwide has crossed 13 million with more than 568,000 people killed, according to a Reuters tally.

This story was published with permission from Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, resilience, women’s rights, trafficking and property rights. Visit http://news.trust.org/climate.

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