• By The Financial District

100 Billionaires Urge Davos Attendees: Pay Higher Taxes

More than 100 millionaires and billionaires say they want to pay higher taxes and are trying to persuade other rich people to do the same, the New York Times reported.

Photo Insert: The World Economic Forum headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland

In a letter to attendees of the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting this week — traditionally held in Davos, Switzerland but virtual this year — they argue that higher taxes on the wealthy would address some of the inequities that the gathering tries to solve.

“We need to get the rich people to agree that this is not a sustainable system,” Morris Pearl, the chairman of Patriotic Millionaires, a group that helped organize the letter, told the New York Times. Pearl, who also signed the letter, is a former managing director of BlackRock.

The signatories want to disrupt a disrupted Davos — and the tax status quo. Davos is where business and political leaders go to mingle, ski, and discuss how to build a better world. But “if you’re paying attention, you’ll find that you’re part of the problem,” the letter reads. “Rich people are killing the goose that lays the golden egg,” Pearl said.

Wage-earners pay proportionately more tax than those with passive income. Pearl said that most wealthy people he meets “tend to agree” that the system is unfair, but come up with excuses for not changing it, including that the government doesn’t spend money well.

Market & economy: Market economist in suit and tie reading reports and analysing charts in the office located in the financial district.

The Biden administration gave up on a proposed wealth tax last year after facing resistance. Such a tax could lift billions out of poverty, according to estimates by Pearl’s group and others.

“To put it simply, restoring trust requires taxing the rich,” the letter to Davos attendees reads. Noting that they have mostly grown wealthier during the pandemic, while many suffered, the signatories foresee an unhappy ending if changes aren’t made: “It’s taxes or pitchforks. Let’s listen to history and choose wisely.”

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