A new analysis, “Taxing Extreme Wealth,” by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and Patriotic Millionaires found a shocking rise in global wealth among the world’s richest people despite deepening inequality during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The analysis, “Taxing Extreme Wealth: An annual tax on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires: What it would raise and what it could pay for,” published on January 19 by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and Patriotic Millionaires found that globally:
- 3.6 million people have over $5 million in wealth, with a combined wealth of $75.3 trillion, according to data commissioned for this study from Wealth-X.
- 183,300 households own over $50 million, for a combined wealth of $36.4 trillion, according to Wealth-X data.
- There are 2,660 billionaires with a total combined wealth of $13.76 trillion. (Drawn from Forbes on November 30, 2021).
- An annual wealth tax applied to the world’s richest would raise U.S. $2.52 trillion a year (with a graduated rate structure: 2 percent tax on wealth over $5 million; 3 percent on wealth over $50 million; 5 percent on wealth over $1 billion.)
- A more steeply progressive wealth tax would raise U.S. $3.62 trillion a year (with graduated rates of 2 percent on wealth starting at $5 million; 5 percent on wealth over $50 million; and 10 percent on wealth over $1 billion.)
An annual tax on the world’s richest would be enough to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty, make enough vaccines for the whole world, and deliver universal health care and social protection for all the citizens of low and lower middle-income countries (3.6 billion people).
This new global billionaire wealth analysis comes on the heels of a new Oxfam International report based on World Bank data that shows that while 99 percent of the world’s workers earned less money in 2021, the world’s ten wealthiest men more than doubled their fortunes. Meanwhile, global protests around the world are set to coincide with the World Economic Forum’s ‘State of the World’ online meetings.
In the US, roughly 750 U.S. billionaires have seen their wealth increase over $2 trillion since March 2020 for a combined wealth of over $5 trillion, according to previous research by the Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies. And there are over 63,500 individuals with wealth over $50 million with combined assets of $12.8 trillion, according to the new report, Taxing Extreme Wealth. An annual wealth tax would raise $928 billion a year, enough to eliminate half of household out-of-pocket health expenses in the U.S.
It is time to levy a wealth tax on the world’s multi-millionaires and billionaires. This is not to simply raise revenue to vaccinate the world and invest in robust public health systems. But a wealth tax that is intended to save democracy from the extreme concentrations of wealth and power.
Chuck Collins directs the Program on Inequality and the Common Good at the Institute for Policy Studies, where he also co-edits Inequality.org.