Over 200 millionaires urge Davos elite to up taxes on the ultra-rich

Wealth

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Over 200 millionaires are urging the elite echelons in attendance at this week’s World Economic Forum in Davos to “tackle extreme wealth” and “tax the ultra-rich” to help relieve the cost-of-living strain off ordinary households.  

The Patriotic Millionaires — self-described as “a group of high-net worth Americans who share a profound concern about the destabilizing level of inequality in America” — called for similar measures in their campaign last year.

“Tax the ultra rich and do it now,” the group asks in a new “Cost of Extreme Wealth” open letter on Wednesday, also endorsed by PMUK, Tax Me Now and Millionaires for Humanity. “It’s simple, common-sense economics. It is an investment in our common good and a better future that we all deserve, and as millionaires we want to make that investment,” it said.

The message warns of an “age of extremes” marked by rising poverty, wealth inequality, anti-democratic nationalism, depressed ecological conditions and dwindling opportunities for average workers to make a living wage.

The letter questions the mission of the World Economic Forum in absence of concrete measures:

“The current lack of action is gravely concerning. A meeting of the ‘global elite’ in Davos to discuss ‘Cooperation in a Fragmented World’ is pointless if you aren’t challenging the root cause of division. Defending democracy and building cooperation requires action to build fairer economies right now – it is not a problem that can be left for our children to fix.”

The campaign numbers 206 signatories from 12 countries, including Abigail Disney, an heiress to the multimedia entertainment empire, and actor Mark Ruffalo.

 ”Extreme wealth is eating our world alive. It is undermining our democracies, destabilizing our economies, and destroying our climate,” Disney said. “But for all their talk about solving the world’s problems, the attendees of Davos refuse to discuss the only thing that can make a real impact — taxing the rich.”

She criticized, “I’ve been to Davos. I’ve sat in the same room with some of the richest and most powerful people in the world as they talk about how they can make a difference, so I can say this with firsthand experience – Davos is a farce. Until Davos attendees start talking about taxing the rich, the entire gathering will remain a very public example of how out of touch they really are.”

CNBC has reached out to the Davos World Economic Forum for comment.

A study produced by the Patriotic Millionaires finds that a progressive annual wealth tax — modeled at 2% on individuals worth $5 million, 3% on those with a net $50 million, and 5% on the ultra-rich with more than $1 billion — could have raised in excess of $1.7 trillion in 2022.

The world’s richest 1% have accrued nearly two-thirds of all new global wealth over the last two years, amassing $26 trillion out of $42 trillion created in that period, Oxfam found in a recent report.

Households around the world have been struggling to keep pace with surging costs in wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, tightening monetary policies and fuel price hikes stoked by sanctions against Russian energy supplies. Just one leader of the Group of Seven global economic — German Chancellor Olaf Scholz — was set to attend the Davos proceedings this week, as several of his counterparts battle the cost-of-living crisis.

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