As world leaders gather in Davos to debate economic issues between nibbles of Swiss chocolates, the super-rich are sending them a message: Take our money.

More than 250 billionaires and millionaires have signed on to an open letter calling for wealth taxes to pay for public services around the world.

“If elected representatives of the world’s leading economies do not take steps to address the dramatic rise of economic inequality, the consequences will continue to be catastrophic,” the letter writes. “Our request is simple: we ask you to tax us, the very richest in society. 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.”

Among the letter’s signatories: Valerie Rockefeller, heir to the American oil and industry dynasty; actor Brian Cox, best known for playing billionaire businessman Logan Roy on HBO’s Succession; and filmmaker Abigail Disney, who’s long leaned on her last name to publicly campaign for wealth reform.

“I could be a billionaire if I wanted to be a billionaire, and I’m not because I don’t want to be a billionaire,” Disney told New York Magazine’s The Cut in 2019. “That’s an insane amount of money. But it’s the easiest thing in the world to make money if you start with money.”

Even the (ultra)wealthy support wealth taxes

It comes as no surprise that the wider public would like to see wealth taxes imposed on people with billion dollar-deep pockets. But surveys suggest that plenty of the super-rich support them, too.

A new poll released by advocacy group Patriotic Millionaires finds that 75% of the uber-wealthy support a 2% wealth tax on billionaires. Plenty are willing to apply that standard to their own bank accounts, too: 66% of respondents agreed that they would support higher taxes on themselves if the revenue would be used to provide better public services and a more stable economy. More than half (54%) agree that the concentration of extreme wealth is a threat to democracy.

The report surveyed 2,385 people living in G20 countries who hold more than $1 million in investable assets, excluding their housing. Patriotic Millionaires is also one of the groups behind the open letter.

The campaign comes as the ultra-rich watch their capital climb. A new report from the UK-based charity organization Oxfam (which is also backing the letter) finds that the globe’s richest men doubled their collective wealth since 2020; the group estimates that the world’s first trillionaire will emerge within a decade.

In countries like the US, the chasm between the rich and the poor continues to widen. One long-term analysis found that over three decades, the net worth of the top 1% of Americans swelled by $21 trillion, while that of the bottom 50% dropped by $900 billion. Today, the bottom 50% of American households own just 2% of the nation’s wealth.

Imposing a 2% tax on the world’s billionaires alone would raise almost $250 billion annually, according to a recent report by the EU Tax Observatory.

“The true measure of a society can be found not just in how it treats its most vulnerable, but in what it asks of its wealthiest members,” the letter writes. “Our future is one of tax pride, or economic shame. That’s the choice.”


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