Over 80 millionaires from around the world, including British film director Richard Curtis, have signed a pledge asking to pay more tax, as their contribution to fund the economic recovery from coronavirus
Other signatories to the letter calling for higher taxation on the richest include Jerry Greenfield, co-founder of ice cream manufacturer Ben and Jerry's, and Disney heir Abigail Disney.
In the ‘Millionaires for Humanity’ letter, they state: ‘As Covid-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world.
‘No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door.
‘But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis.’
The letter, which has been signed by 83 millionaires from over a dozen countries, goes on to say: ‘The problems caused by, and revealed by, Covid-19 can’t be solved with charity, no matter how generous.
‘Government leaders must take the responsibility for raising the funds we need and spending them fairly.
‘We can ensure we adequately fund our health systems, schools, and security through a permanent tax increase on the wealthiest people on the planet, people like us.’
The pledge has been organised by a group of six charities, including Oxfam and Tax Justice UK.
The abrupt economic downturn caused by Covid-19 has led to a wider discussion about whether or not countries should introduce a ‘wealth tax’.
Currently only Norway has such a tax, which is levied on individuals with total assets valued above NOK 1.5m (£124,000), but it includes a number of exceptions for valuation purposes, including the main home.
Labour’s shadow chancellor Anneliese Dodds called in a speech earlier this month for a ‘new settlement’ to address the fact that those on lower incomes pay more tax proportionally than high earners, while the richest are not taxed on their assets in line with income tax.
Dodds said: ‘I think the government does need to look at this area, I don’t think we’re in a fair situation.
‘I think we do need to have that new settlement and actually much of the opinion data has indicated that has a lot of support among the UK population as well.’
Last year, Credit Suisse Research Institute's Global Wealth Report identified 46.8m millionaires worldwide, up 1.1m on 2018.
The US added more than half of this number – 675,000 new millionaires – to its sizeable stock, while the number of UK millionaire fell by 27,000.