Danny McCance 25 Jun 2019 11:53am

Tax us more, say group of US billionaires

In an open letter to the 2020 US presidential election candidates, a group of billionaires have called for a tax on their own wealth

The letter, signed by 18 of the wealthiest people in the US including philanthropist George Soros and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, called for a “moderate wealth tax” on the fortunes “on us” the richest 0.1%of Americans.

This tax, it is estimated, could generate $3trn (£2.3trn) by taxing just 75,000 of the wealthiest families in the US.

The country’s richest would be taxed 2% of every dollar after $50m and a further 1% on every dollar after $1bn.

“If you have $49.9m or less you are not paying the tax,” the letter read.

The signees called for the US government to put more onus on taxing the super rich rather than middle or low income families.

According to research cited in the letter, the “bottom 99%” of Americans are projected to pay 7.2% in taxes in 2019, while the top 0.1% will are projected to pay just 3.2%.

“Warren Buffet has pointed out that he is taxed at a lower rate than his secretary,” the letter noted.

They also argued that a moderate tax on the richest in the country “enjoys the support of a majority of Americans,” from across the political spectrum.

The wealth generated from such a tax, the billionaires suggested, could be used towards tackling the climate crisis, to further strengthen US economic growth, and to combat America’s public health challenges, such as the opioid crisis.

The letter acknowledged criticisms of a wealth tax, that it is unconstitutional and issues around implementation and enforcement.

However, it suggests that the challenges of evasion and tax cheating can be avoided by “building on lessons learned in the United States and other countries”.

The letter was signed by Louise Bowditch, Robert Bowditch, Abigail Disney, Sean Eldridge, Stephen English, Agnes Gund, Catherine Gund, Nick Hanauer, Arnold Hiatt, Chris Hughes, Molly Munger, Regan Pritzker, Justin Rosenstein, Stephen Silberstein, Ian Simmons, Liesel Pritzker Simmons, Alexander Soros and George Soros, as well as an anonymous signee.

In March, research from the OECD found that more than two-thirds of respondents to a survey across 21 countries believed that the rich should be taxed more.

The same month, research suggested the richest 100,000 individuals in the UK contributed 20% of the total income and capital gains tax in 2016/17 – a total of £18bn.