More than 100 millionaires and billionaires from nine nations have signed an open letter pleading for increased taxes on the wealthy to begin to address the "injustice" of tax systems around the world.
The "injustice baked into the foundation of the international tax system has created a colossal lack of trust between the people of the world and the elites who are the architects of this system," said signatories in the "Patriotic Millionaires" group in the letter released early this week.
"To put it simply, restoring trust requires taxing the rich. The world - every country in it - must demand the rich pay their fair share," the letter states. "Tax us, the rich, and tax us now."
The letter was published this week in part to draw the attention of the global elite convening digitally for the virtual World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.
There is "no defending a system that endlessly inflates the wealth of the world's richest people while condemning billions to easily preventable poverty," said Patriotic Millionaires Chair Morris Pearl, former managing director at Blackrock. "We need deep, systemic change, and that starts with taxing rich people like me."
It's not just charity, noted the letter - signed by American film producer and heiress Abigail Disney and U.S. entrepreneur and venture capitalist Nick Hanauer, among scores of other Americans - but also an instinct for fairness, rationality and survival, which will be difficult in increasingly fraught situations with unbridgeable wealth gaps.
"Show the people of the world that you deserve their trust," the letter urges other wealthy citizens of the world. "If you don't, then all the private talks won't change what's coming - it's taxes or pitchforks. Let's listen to history and choose wisely."
The wealth gap has grown even more enormous amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
The average incomes of the bottom 40% worldwide in 2021 are 6.7% lower than pre-pandemic projections.
The wealth of the wealthiest, meanwhile, has exploded during the pandemic. The wealth of the ten richest men in the world doubled during the pandemic, according to an Oxfam report this week. Elon Musk increased his wealth by 1,000% to $270 billion since March 2020.
A report last year revealed that a massive Trump administration estate tax giveaway that particularly served the ultra-rich triggered a 50% plunge in IRS revenue from the taxes. Estate tax payments dropped from $20 billion to just over $9 billion in 2020, Bloomberg reported, based on its analysis of IRS data.
This article originally appeared on HuffPost and has been updated.
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