Five Canadians sign open letter from global millionaires urging taxes on the rich

A group of some of the world’s wealthiest individuals – including five Canadians – have signed onto an open letter calling on the richest among them to pay their fair share in taxes.

The letter campaign from the organizations Patriotic Millionaires, Millionaires for Humanity and Tax Me Now calls on every country to tax the rich as a means to restore society's trust in the face of an unjust international tax system.

"As millionaires, we know that the current tax system is not fair," the letter reads.

"Most of us can say that, while the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic – yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes."

The letter is addressed to those attending the World Economic Forum's online Davos summit, which began on Monday.

The annual meeting of world leaders, normally held in Davos, Switzerland, is billed as an opportunity to address global issues.

The letter, however, charges that Davos doesn't deserve the world's trust.

"For all the countless hours spent talking about making the world a better place, the conference has produced little tangible value amidst a torrent of self-congratulations," it says.

"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."

Signatories to the letter include Disney heiress Abigail Disney and American venture capitalist Nick Hanauer.

The Canadians who signed onto the letter include Margit Boronkay, author and workplace consultant Erica Pinsky, founder of the venture capital firm Renewal Funds and co-author of "The Clean Money Revolution: Re-Inventing Power, Purpose and Capitalism" Joel Solomon, Claire Trottier and Sylvie Trottier.

Claire Trottier is a microbiologist and immunologist from Montreal who serves on the board of the McGill University Health Centre Foundation, as well as the Trottier Family Foundation along with Sylvie Trottier.

The letter goes on to say while the bedrock of a strong democracy is a fair tax system, people have developed a "colossal" lack of trust in the elites who have been the "architects" of that system.

"History paints a pretty bleak picture of what the endgame of extremely unequal societies looks like. 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," the letter says, before offering a stern warning.

"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."

Reuters reports that a spokesperson for the World Economic Forum said paying a fair share of taxes was one of the forum's tenets. A wealth tax, as exists it in Switzerland where the organization is based, could be a good model to deploy elsewhere, the spokesperson said.

According to a study by Patriotic Millionaires, Oxfam and other non-profits, a progressive wealth tax starting at two per cent for those with more than US$5 million and rising to five per cent for billionaires could raise US$2.52 trillion, enough globally to lift 2.3 billion people out of poverty and guarantee health care and social protection for individuals living in lower income countries.

With files from Reuters

I am proud to have signed this letter calling for a #WealthTax - a necessary tool to help fight inequality https://t.co/Z0zunDzOtT https://t.co/Lr8w6DKiqx

— Claire Trottier (@DocTrott) January 19, 2022