UNITED NATIONS: The United Nations yesterday called for a tax on billionaires to help raise more than $400 billion a year for poor countries.
An annual lump sum payment by the super-rich is one of a host of measures including a tax on carbon dioxide emissions, currency exchanges or financial transactions proposed in a new report that accuses wealthy nations of breaking promises to step up aid for the less fortunate. The UN’s annual World Economic and Social Survey also says it is critical to find new ways to help the world’s poor as pledged cash fails to flow.
The report estimates that the number of people around the globe worth at least $ 1 billion rose to 1,226 in 2012.
These include an estimated 425 billionaires in the United States, 315 in the Asia-Pacific region, 310 in Europe, 90 in other North and South American countries and 86 in Africa and the Middle East.
Together they own an estimated $ 4.6 trillion — or an average of $ 3.75 billion per person, according to the report.
The UN estimates that a one percent tax on their wealth would raise $ 46 billion in 2012. “Would this hurt them?” it questioned. “The ‘average’ billionaire would own $ 3.7 billion after paying the tax. If that billionaire spent $ 1,000 per day, it would take him or her over 10,000 years to spend all his or her wealth,” the report says. The UN acknowledged, however, that for now its tax on the unimaginably wealthy remains “an intriguing possibility.”
“It has not been regarded as a means of raising revenues for international cooperation.” The report gives other ideas for international taxes, including:
— a tax of $ 25 per ton on carbon dioxide emissions would raise about $ 250 billion. It could be collected by national governments, but allocated to international cooperation.
— a tax of 0.005 percent on all currency transactions in the dollar, yen, euro and pound sterling could raise $ 40 billion a year.
— taking a portion of a proposed European Union tax on financial transactions for international cooperation. The tax is expected to raise more than $ 70 billion (55 billion euros) a year.
It also suggests expanding a levy on air tickets that a number of nations already impose to raise money for drugs for poor states through UNITAID, a UN initiative.
The report says more than $ 1 billion has been handed over to UNITAID since the levy started in 2006.