April 8, 2020

Patriotic Millionaires” Call for Higher Taxes on the Wealthy

Abigail Disney in 2020

In an open letter to their wealthy “colleagues”, more than 120 personalities, including a Disney heiress and the former CEO of Unilever, advocate higher taxes to reduce inequality. According to an Ipsos/Reuters poll, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans now believe that “the very rich should pay an extra share of their wealth each year to support public policy.

What better time than the Davos Forum to talk about taxing the very rich? In an open letter published this Wednesday by the “Patriotic Millionaires” collective and addressed to their “colleagues”, more than 120 “millionaires and billionaires” call for fairer taxation to reduce inequality. “We urge you to act now – before it’s too late – to demand higher and fairer taxes” and “to help prevent tax evasion and fraud by individuals and corporations,” the association, which was founded a decade ago in Washington, D.C., says.

The signatories are not among the world’s wealthiest people, but they include former Unilever boss Paul Polman, TED conference founder Chris Anderson and Abigail Disney. Roy O. Disney’s granddaughter has been campaigning for months to tax the richest and reduce inequality. In particular, she has pleaded with Disney CEO Bob Iger to increase salaries, as recounted in a recent portrait in the “New Yorker”.

Supporting public policy
As the U.S. budget deficit slips to $1 trillion, the Patriotic Millionaires’ call echoes the tax proposals of the most progressive Democratic wing for the presidential campaign. While claiming to be a capitalist, Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren defends a 6% tax on fortunes in excess of $1 trillion, notably to finance universal health insurance. A proposal that has earned her a barrage of fire from business and Wall Street.

According to a survey conducted in December by Ipsos for Thomson Reuters, nearly two-thirds (64%) of Americans believe that “the very rich should pay an additional portion of their wealth each year to support public policy. Democrats are more represented (77%) but Republicans also share this view, at 53%. The decade of growth in the United States has reduced the poverty rate but the richest have increased their wealth even more rapidly. According to U.S. central bank data, the richest 1 per cent of households held 31 per cent of total wealth last year, up from 28 per cent a decade ago and 23 per cent 30 years ago.

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