Millionaires from 13 countries petition world leaders at Davos to tackle the problem of extreme wealth as new analysis shows that the number of ultra rich surged by more than 50 percent in the last decade and an annual wealth tax on the world’s richest could raise $1.7 trillion globally.

As the World Economic Forum continues in Davos, Switzerland, over 200 millionaires from 13 countries have urged global leaders to face up to one of the world’s most neglected forms of extremism – that of concentrated wealth. In a letter entitled
The Cost of Extreme Wealth, millionaires from multiple backgrounds – including business leaders old and new from tech, food, and energy companies, celebrities Mark Ruffalo and Abby Disney, as well as inheritors and investors – state, ‘the history of the last five decades is a story of wealth flowing nowhere but upwards. In the last few years, this trend has greatly accelerated…The solution is plain for all to see. You, our global representatives, have to tax us, the ultra rich, and you have to start now.’

The letter comes as new analysis conducted by the Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and the Patriotic Millionaires shows the growing level of extreme wealth. The total number of people in the world with at least $5 million dollars in net wealth has grown by 52.9 percent over the last decade and individuals with a net wealth of $50 million or more, have enjoyed similar growth levels. Meanwhile, the global billionaire class has more than doubled and their wealth has skyrocketed at a similar rate – 99.6 percent to be exact. This is a gain of more than $5.9 trillion.

Support for action on extreme wealth from this growing number of millionaires comes as a poll of 135 economists, from 40 countries, shows that 71 percent think there is scope for raising taxes on the rich in their country over the coming five years. A similar share (71 percent) responded that rising inequality in their country is partly caused by falling taxes on the rich, and 73 percent think that the rich pay fewer taxes in proportion to their income than the average citizen in their country.

The paper also highlights the extensive public attitude polling on inequality and tax, conducted in G20 countries over the last six years by multiple agencies, all of which show an overwhelming public support for taxing the rich.

Marlene Engelhorn, co-founder of taxmenow, author, and millionaire signatory on the letter said, “The whole world – economists, publics, and millionaires alike – can see the solution that is staring us all right in the face: we have to tax the ultra rich. If we care about the safety of democracy, about our communities, and our planet we have to get this done. And yet our decision-makers either don’t have the gumption or don’t feel the need to listen to all of these voices. It begs the question, ‘What, or who, is stopping them?’”

The introduction of annual wealth taxes is argued as a key solution to addressing the wealth extreme.  According to the report analysis, if a wealth tax was introduced globally, starting at 2 percent annually for those with more than $5 million, 3 percent for those with over $50 million, and rising to 5 percent annually for billionaires, the revenue potential could be  $1.7 trillion a year.

The letter will be handed over in person by Patriotic Millionaires member, Phil White and Marlene Engelhorn of taxmenow. It was circulated by Patriotic Millionaires  and PMUK, Tax Me Now, Millionaires for Humanity, Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, and Oxfam, and reminds political leaders: ‘Extremes are unsustainable, often dangerous, and rarely tolerated for long. So why, in this age of multiple crises, do you continue to tolerate extreme wealth?’ 


Notes to Editor

Download The Cost of Extreme Wealth, letter and list of signatories 

Data on the richest individuals is from Wealth-X and figures on billionaires come from Forbes’s Billionaires List. Download the report HERE

Review of public polling in G20 countries on inequality and taxation

Contact information

Jeshua Hope, Communications Support Officer: [email protected]