“As Covid-19 hits the world, millionaires like us have a vital role to play in healing our world,” said the millionaires in a letter shared with the Guardian. “No, we are not the ones who care for the sick in the intensive care unit. We do not drive ambulances which will transport the sick to hospitals. We do not restock grocery shelves and do not deliver food door to door.
“But we have money, a lot. The money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years to come, as our world recovers from this crisis. ”
The group warned that the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis “will last for decades” and could “push half a billion more people into poverty”.
Among those who add their names to the letter are Sir Stephen Tindall, the founder of the Warehouse Group and the second richest man in New Zealand with a fortune of $ 475 million (£ 370 million); British screenwriter and director Richard Curtis; and Irish venture capitalist John O’Farrell, who has invested millions in tech companies in Silicon Valley.
“The problems caused by and exposed by Covid-19 cannot be solved with charity, however generous. Heads of government must take responsibility for raising the funds we need and spending them fairly, ”the letter said. “We owe a huge debt to the people who work on the front lines of this global battle. Most essential workers are largely underpaid for the burden they carry. ”
The group released the letter ahead of the G20 finance ministers and central bank governors meeting this weekend. They called on politicians to “fight global inequalities and recognize that raising taxes on the wealthy and greater international tax transparency are essential for a viable long-term solution.”
The number of super-rich continues to increase despite the economic impact of the coronavirus crisis and global blockages. Jeff Bezos, the richest person in the world and the founder of Amazon, has seen his fortune grow by $ 75 billion so far this year to reach a record $ 189 billion.
There are more than 500,000 people worldwide classified as “ultra-rich” with fortunes over $ 30 million (£ 26.5 million). This means that there are more ultra-rich people in the world than the populations of Iceland, Malta or Belize.
There have been repeated calls to the super-rich to contribute more after the Covid-19 crisis. Critics have pointed out that if Bezos donated $ 100 million, it represents less than 0.1% of his estimated fortune.
In the UK, the Labor Party has called on the government to consider introducing a wealth tax for the wealthiest members of society to help finance the recovery from the coronavirus pandemic.
Labor leader Keir Starmer said this month, “We are telling the government, look at the idea of a wealth tax, we certainly support the principle that those with the broadest shoulders should wear the heavier burden. ”
In Norway, around 500,000 people pay a tax of 0.85% on their assets above the value of around £ 126,000.
The millionaires’ letter was organized by Patriotic Millionaires, Oxfam, Human Act, Tax Justice UK, Club of Rome, Resource Justice and Bridging Ventures.