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  1. Wealth
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April 25, 2024

Billionaires should pay 2% wealth tax, say G20 ministers

Ministers from Brazil, Germany, South Africa and Spain say the levy would boost social justice and fight climate change

By Suzanne Elliott

Billionaires should pay a minimum 2 per cent wealth tax to help fight poverty, inequality and climate change, ministers from four leading G20 nations have said.

The levy on the 3,000 billionaires around the world would raise £250 billion a year, ministers from Brazil, Germany, South Africa and Spain claimed in an opinion piece published by The Guardian. The tax raised would go towards covering the costs of damage from extreme weather events linked to climate change and the global economic fallout from wars in the Middle East and Ukraine.

[See also: Billionaires must pay global minimum tax rate: economist Joseph Stiglitz leads calls for measure which could ‘generate $250 billion’]

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Co-authors Svenja Schulze, Fernando Haddad, Enoch Godongwana, María Jesús Montero and Carlos Cuerpo, urged: ‘It is time that the international community gets serious about tackling inequality and financing global public goods.’

The continued: ‘The argument behind such tax is straightforward: we need to enhance the ability of our tax systems to fulfil the principle of fairness, such that contributions are in line with the capacity to pay. Persisting loopholes in the system imply that high-net-worth individuals can minimise their income taxes.

‘Global billionaires pay only the equivalent of up to 0.5 per cent of their wealth in personal income tax. It is crucial to ensure that our tax systems provide certainty, raise sufficient revenues, and treat all of our citizens fairly.’

They explained such a levy would not apply to billionaires who already contribute a ‘fair share in income taxes’.

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[See also: Millionaires call to be taxed more in open letter to Davos leaders]

The opinion piece, signed by ministers from two of the largest European economies – Germany and Spain – and emerging economies (BRICS) Brazil and South Africa – also sought to close tax haven loopholes to prevent the super-rich from moving their fortune to low-tax jurisdictions to reduce their tax bills.

Joseph Stiglitz
Leading economist Joseph Stiglitz has called for a global minimum tax rate for billionaires

Brazil, which chairs the G20 group of leading developed and developing countries, raised the issue of billionaire tax at a meeting of finance ministers earlier this year.

The plan, still in its infancy, is to be finalised by French economist Daniel Zucman and is set to be back on the table at the G20 summit in June.

Zucman claimed polls show up to 80 per cent of voters are in favour of imposing a tax on the super-rich.

There have been growing calls from economists, and UHNW individuals themselves, to impose a global tax on the super-rich.

Joseph Stiglitz, a Nobel Memorial Prize winner who has written extensively on the topics of globalisation and inequality, was among those who called for a minimum global tax rate of 2 per cent to be levied on billionaires worldwide.

Meanwhile at Davos, 260 millionaires called for ultra-high-net-worth individuals like themselves to be taxed more in an open letter to global leaders at

A poll published by the campaign, Patriotic Millionaires (PM), of more than 2,300 millionaires across G20 countries found 74 per cent of respondents were in favour of higher taxes on wealth to address cost-of-living challenges and to bolster public services.

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