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'It's taxes or pitchforks': 3 B.C. millionaires join call to tax the rich

Tax the rich, say some of the world’s wealthiest
"The world - every country in it - must demand the rich pay their fair share. Tax us, the rich, and tax us now," reads the letter.

Five Canadians are among the 102 wealthy individuals who signed an open letter, calling upon their affluent peers around the world to pay their fair of taxes in an unfair system.

In fact, three of the signatories are from Vancouver: artist and educator Margit Boronkay, UBC governor Joel Solomon and author Erica Pinsky.

The open letter is part of “In Tax We Trust,” a campaign from Patriotic Millionaires, Millionaires for Humanity, and Tax Me Now. The signatories argue that a strong democracy has a fair tax system and trust.

Taxing the rich, they say, is integral to restoring the lack of trust between the global elites and the rest of the world. The signatories write that instead of sitting in a room and talking about ways to make the world better, the global elites must do better. This is a reference to the annual World Economic Forum’s online Davos summit, which invites world leaders to address global issues.

“Until participants acknowledge the simple, effective solution staring them in the face — taxing the rich — the people of the world will continue to see their so-called dedication to fixing the world's problems as little more than a performance,” the letter reads.

One such problem is the availability of COVID-19 vaccines globally.

When global vaccine distributions began, wealthy countries were able to access and administer vaccines while poorer countries were forced to wait and face the consequences of vaccine inequity, according to a World Health Organization report.

An analysis from Fight Inequality Alliance, Institute for Policy Studies, Oxfam, and Patriotic Millionaires found that taxing global elites could raise enough revenue to make vaccines — two shots and a booster — for the world’s population. It suggested such a tax would begin at two per cent on wealth over $5 million and increase to five per cent for those worth $1 billion or more.

The proposed wealth tax would also address financial gaps in climate change, health and social issues, and combat gender-based violence in over 80 countries, says the study.

"History paints a pretty bleak picture of what the endgame of extremely unequal societies looks like," the letter continued. "For all our well-being — rich and poor alike — it’s time to confront inequality and choose to tax the rich. Show the people of the world that you deserve their trust. 

"If you don’t, then all the private talks won’t change what’s coming — it’s taxes or pitchforks."

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