While U.S. billionaires ask for increasing wealth tax, their European counterparts remain silent.
The shifting political environment in the region has muted the region’s ultrarich in joining their American peers. Left-wing politics has surged in the continent, fuelling anti-wealth sentiments. The billionaires in the region dare not calling for higher taxes on the fear of associating with the leftists.
On the contrary, some leaders in the region even propose tax cuts. Boris Johnson, the front runner to the prime minister post, called to cut taxes for high earners while increasing the national insurance contributions threshold.
In France, Pres. Emmanuel Macron also slashed the taxes of the wealthy after learning from the mistake of his predecessor, Francois Hollande. The former president imposed a 75% wealth tax, only to reverse it quickly after an ensuing capital flight.
Both leaders faced criticisms and protests for allegedly favouring the rich. The Institute for Fiscal Studies calculates that Johnson’s proposed tax cuts would lead to a yearly loss of nearly £20 billion to the exchequer while benefitting wealthy households.
Meanwhile, members of the Gilet Jaunes movement in France also labelled Macron the “president of the rich” because of his tax agenda and for raising levies on essential items like oil instead of getting more taxes from the wealthy.
Not all of Europe’s wealthiest kept their silence on the idea of more significant taxes to the rich. The Virgin Group founder Richard Branson said at a conference in Dubai, the ultrarich like him has a moral responsibility to tackle some of the world’s significant problems. He added that if they failed to do their part to contribute to solving these pressing issues, they deserve very heavy taxes.
A group of U.S. billionaires, including investor George Soros and Facebook co-founder Chris Hughes, has signed an open letter earlier this week requesting to be taxed more.