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‘Tax our wealth’

‘Tax our wealth’

The World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, the leading summit for engaging the world's leaders to help shape the global, regional and industry agenda each year, took place in Davos-Klosters, from January 14 to19, 2024. In fact, apart from the year 2022 that the annual meeting took place from May 22, and ended on May 26, since inception it has always come off in January.


I have always found Davos meetings very interesting because of the rich nature of discussions and the quality of speakers selected for the meeting. This year was no exception, as l found another interesting peg at the meeting.

A report that the “world super-rich” are willing to pay more taxes to help sustain the global economy is refreshing for many reasons. “We'd be proud to pay more…We are surprised that you have failed to answer a simple question that we have been asking for three years: when will you tax extreme wealth?

If elected representatives of the world’s leading economies do not take steps to address the dramatic rise of economic inequality, the consequences will continue to be catastrophic for society”.

“Our drive for fairer taxes is not radical. Rather, it is a demand for a return to normality based on a sober assessment of current economic conditions. We are the people who invest in start-ups, shape stock markets, grow businesses, and foster sustainable economic growth. We are also the people who benefit most from the status quo. But inequality has reached a tipping point, and its cost to our economic, societal, and ecological stability risk is severe - and growing every day. In short, we need action now”. 

This was the demand by more than 250 billionaires and millionaires stated in an open letter to “Davos”. The signatories included Abigail Disney, Brian Cox and Valerie Rockefeller, powerful and famous rich people in the world.

 Continuing, the letter stressed that “Our request is simple: we ask you to tax us, the very richest in society. This will not fundamentally alter our standard of living, nor deprive our children, nor harm our nations’ economic growth. But it will turn extreme and unproductive private wealth into an investment for our common democratic future”.

Reading the letter and the various commentaries on the demands by the super-rich, I remembered my article for the Saturday, May 28, 2022 edition of this column. In that edition, titled Beyond Davos, I explained why complete global economic recovery was a shared responsibility.

This article was after the end of that year’s Davos meeting, and as l have explained earlier, it was the first time the meeting happened in May. Commenting on the meeting, I stressed that “The core of the discussions, given the global economic upheaval amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic and worsened  by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, no doubt, was on the need for inclusive growth, a sustainable world that would promote the right equity for all. In fact, creating a healthier and equitable future, which is core to sustainability, involves the combined efforts of all—governments, non-governmental organisations, individuals, businesses, private sector etc. The right mix and match in the development model is always the sticking point”.

Today, the super-rich have reminded us that “The solution to this (addressing global inequality) cannot be found in one-off donations or in philanthropy; individual action cannot redress the current colossal imbalance. We need our governments and our leaders to lead. And so we come to you again with the urgent request that you act - unilaterally at the national level, and together on the international stage.

“Every moment of delay entrenches the dangerous economic status quo, threatens our democratic norms, and passes the buck to our children and grandchildren. Not only do we want to be taxed more but we believe we must be taxed more. We would be proud to live in countries where this is expected, and proud of elected leaders who build better futures”.

And this is their pledge;

As the wealthiest members of society, we would be:

Proud to pay more to tackle extreme inequality.

Proud to pay more to help reduce the cost of living for working people.

Proud to pay more to better educate the next generation.

Proud to pay more for resilient healthcare systems.

Proud to pay more for better infrastructure.

Proud to pay more for a green transition.

Proud to pay more taxes on our extreme wealth.


“The value of fairer tax systems should be self-evident. We all know that ‘trickle down economics’ has not translated into reality. Instead it has given us stagnating wages, crumbling infrastructure, failing public services, and destabilised the very institution of democracy. It has created a shameful economic system incapable of providing a brighter, more sustainable future. These challenges will only worsen if you fail to address extreme wealth inequality”, they added.

Tax, in actual fact shouldn’t be tasking, even though it appears so. Today, tax and the issue of paying your fair share is one of the most prominent areas being scrutinized by governments, the general public and, to a great extent, the media.

Globally, every government tries to broaden its revenue base by ensuring that taxpayers are not only paying their taxes promptly but also that those who are to pay taxes do so too.

Provision of education to school-age children at the basic level and health care, to name but just two, are some of the social services necessary to sustain the future of a country. The lack of them, therefore, could spell doom; and that is what the non-payment of taxes does. This means also that the work of the government could grind to a halt if there was no money to fund basic services.

Tax, therefore, is used to contribute to shaping countries’ development and improve the lives of their citizens. Finance is needed to support growth, targeting the likes of education, power, transport, water, health care and infrastructure.

The clarion call by the super-rich is a wakeup call for all of us, as responsible global citizens to pay our taxes that is if we want to see an end to inequality.

“The true measure of a society can be found, not just in how it treats its most vulnerable, but in what it asks of its wealthiest members. Our future is one of tax pride, or economic shame. That’s the choice”, the super-rich say so. What is your quota for this?

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