Billionaires’ Covid windfall tax could vaccinate all adults on Earth

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Every adult in the world could be vaccinated against Covid-19 if the wealth of billionaires collected during the pandemic were taxed at 99% once, according to an analysis released Thursday by several groups that advocate economic fairness.

This single tax on the world’s 2,690 billionaires could also cover $ 20,000 in cash paid to all unemployed people, according to analysis by Oxfam, the Fight Inequality Alliance, the Institute for Policy Studies and the Patriotic Millionaires.

This tax would still leave billionaires $ 55 billion more than before the pandemic, according to the analysis.

Morris Pearl, the former chief executive of BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, said in a statement that countries could no longer support “the increase in the global wealth of billionaires as millions of people have lost their lives and their means of subsistence ”.

Pearl, now president of Patriotic Millionaires, a group of wealthy people who support higher taxes for the wealthy, said governments have historically used post-crisis wealth taxes to help communities rebuild.

During World War I, the United States increased its tax rate for those with the highest incomes to 67%. During World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt attempted to cap individual income at $ 25,000. In December of last year, Argentina implemented a one-time tax on people with more than 200 million Argentinian pesos ($ 2.5 million, £ 1.8 million) that had raised 223 billion pesos ($ 2.4 billion) in May.

“Our economies are choking on this accumulated resource that could serve a much bigger purpose,” Pearl said. “Billionaires must spit out this ball of money – and governments must force them to do so by taxing their wealth. “

The analysis used data from financial magazine Forbes, which showed billionaires increased their wealth by $ 5.5 billion from March 18, 2020 to July 31, 2021. The 17-month increase was over 5.4 billion dollars. billion dollars earned over the 15 years from 2006 to 2020, according to the analysis.

Each vaccine dose is estimated at $ 7 in the analysis, which determined that two doses for 5 billion adults would cost $ 70 billion.

At least one dose of the Covid-19 vaccine has been given to 30.7% of the world’s population, but only 1.2% of people in low-income countries have received a first dose.

To determine how much money from the single tax could go to the unemployed, the group looked at a February report from the International Labor Organization, which found that 220 million people were unemployed around the world.

In an unprecedented move last month, four multilateral institutions, including the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and the World Health Organization (WHO), warned that the global economic recovery would be stalled unless there was have more equity in the distribution of vaccines.

Economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zuckman warned in the preface to the 2020 edition of their book on how rich Americans dodge taxes, Triumph of Injustice, that while crises are generally bad for the rich, the pandemic of Covid-19 “may turn out to be different”.

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