Millionaires and wealthy celebrities demand to pay more tax because they are the ‘most privileged human beings to walk the Earth’.
A group of billionaires, millionaires and wealthy celebrities are demanding to pay more tax because they are among “the most privileged class of human beings to walk the Earth.”
More than 120 wealthy celebrities and business figures have signed an open letter, urging their peers around the world to call for tax increases to address economic disparities across the globe.
The letter, signed by the likes of actor Simon Pegg and screenwriter Richard Curtis, has been released to coincide with the World Economic Forum in Davos.
The 120 people from eight countries, including co-founder of Innocent Drinks Richard Reed and former chief executive of Unilever Paul Polman, claimed the wealth gap had hit crisis level, resulting in erosion of trust within societies, increased resentment and the undermining of basic social cohesion.
Addressing their “fellow millionaires and billionaires across the globe,” they said: “There are two kinds of wealthy people: those who prefer taxes and those who prefer pitchforks.
“We prefer taxes. And we believe that, upon reflection, you will as well.
“For that reason, we urge you to step forward now – before it’s too late – to demand higher and fairer taxes on millionaires and billionaires within your own countries and to help prevent individual and corporate tax avoidance and evasion through international tax reform efforts.
“We make this request as members of the most privileged class of human beings ever to walk the Earth.”
The signatories described philanthropy as “an inadequate substitute for government investment” and said tax increases were the “only appropriate way” to provide societies with adequate funding.
The letter also claimed tax avoidance had reached “epidemic proportions”, added: “In some nations, the wealthiest actually pay lower effective tax rates than those of modest means.”
The group cited research suggesting that close to a tenth of the world’s gross domestic product was hidden in tax havens and about 40 per cent of foreign investment passed through empty corporate shells.
Writing in a column in Thursday’s edition of The Times, Pegg said he did not hesitate when asked to sign the letter.
Pegg said it was estimated almost half the world’s population was trying to survive on $5.50 (£4.18) a day or less.
He said the rate of poverty reduction had halved since 2013, whereas in the past decade the number of billionaires had doubled.
The Shaun Of The Dead star said inequality was the driving force behind both societal breakdown and the “climate crisis we face”.
“Inequality is not inevitable, it’s a policy choice. It’s the product of governments passing policies that favour the very wealthy at the expense of the less fortunate,” he said.
“Fixing this broken economy might feel too complex to many world leaders, so let the millionaires help get you started. Tax them. Tax them more and do it now.”