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More than 250 billionaires and millionaires are demanding that the political elite meeting for the World Economic Forum in Davos introduce wealth taxes to help pay for better public services around the world.
“Our request is simple: we ask you to tax us, the very richest in society,” the wealthy people said in an open letter to world leaders. “This will not fundamentally alter our standard of living, nor deprive our children, nor harm our nations’ economic growth. But it will turn extreme and unproductive private wealth into an investment for our common democratic future.”
The rich signatories from 17 countries include Disney heir Abigail Disney; Brian Cox who played fictional billionaire Logan Roy in Succession; actor and screenwriter Simon Pegg; and Valerie Rockefeller, an heir to the US dynasty.
“We are also the people who benefit most from the status quo,” they said in a letter titled Proud to Pay, which they will attempt to deliver to world leaders gathered in Davos in Switzerland on Wednesday. “But inequality has reached a tipping point, and its cost to our economic, societal and ecological stability risk is severe – and growing every day. In short, we need action now.”
A new poll of the super-rich shows that 74% support higher taxes on wealth to help address the cost of living crisis and improve public services. A survey, conducted by Survation on behalf of campaign group Patriotic Millionaires, polled more than 2,300 respondents from G20 countries who hold more than $1m (£790,000) in investable assets, excluding their homes – putting them in the richest 5%.
The polling found that 58% supported the introduction of a 2% wealth tax on people with more than $10m, and that 54% thought that extreme wealth was a threat to democracy.
Guy Singh-Watson, the British farmer-turned-entrepreneur who founded vegetable box delivery company Riverford, said: “This poll seems to show that the whole world, including the richest people, wants to tax the super-rich. So where on Earth is the leadership from our elected representatives who have the power to actually do it? We, the very richest, are sick and tired of inaction, so it’s hardly surprising that working people, at the sharp end of our rigged economies, have lost all patience.”
A “modest” 1.7% wealth tax on the richest 140,000 people in the UK could raise more than £10bn to help pay for public services, the Trades Union Congress (TUC) suggested last year.
The richest 250 families in the UK are sitting on combined wealth of £748bn, according to the latest Sunday Times rich list, an increase from £704bn the previous year. Those on the list included the prime minister, Rishi Sunak, and his wife, Akshata Murty, at number 275 out of 350, with £529m between them, and the 32-year-old Duke of Westminster, with £9.9bn, at number 11.
Cox, an Emmy and Golden Globe-winning actor, said: “We are living in a second ‘Gilded Age’. Billionaires are wielding their extreme wealth to accumulate political power and influence, simultaneously undermining democracy and the global economy. It’s long past time to act. If our elected officials refuse to address this concentration of money and power, the consequences will be dire.”