Joe Biden says it is time for the richest Americans to “start paying their fair share” of taxes as he outlined his administration’s huge new infrastructure and welfare spending plans this week.
Speaking at a community college in Norfolk, Virginia, the US president made the case for increasing taxes on the wealthiest in the US in order to help fund his ambitious American Families Plan and infrastructure plan.
The packages would provide funds for childcare and free universal pre-school education facilities, as well as massive programs to rebuild America’s crumbling transport systems and public-sector housing in ways that also contributes to government action on the climate crisis.
“I think it’s about time we started giving tax breaks and tax benefits to working-class families and middle-class families, instead of just the very wealthy,” Biden said, while speaking in Portsmouth, Virginia.
He said he’s not “anti-corporate”, but “it’s about time they started paying their fair share”.
Shield wealthy families
Meanwhile in the UK, chancellor Rishi Sunak hinted that wealthy families will escape a post-pandemic tax raid earmarked to boost the economy.
Speaking at The Wall Street Journal’s CEO Council Summit last night, he signalled he was preparing to water down a proposed hike to capital gains tax, suggesting that measures announced in the March Budget would be enough to restore public finances.
“As we look forward to reopening over the coming weeks and months, there are signs to be cautiously optimistic and we can see that in the data. I’m hopeful that will be sustained through the rest of the year,” he said.
“We are seeing consumer confidence back to pre-pandemic levels. Chief finance officers are very positive. We know that there is an enormous amount of excess savings both in the household sector, approaching £140bn, and £100bn sitting on corporate balance sheets.”
Asked whether the richest families in the UK should brace themselves for higher tax hits, Sunak said: “The top one per cent, for example, of income earners pay or account for almost 30 per cent of all income tax receipts as it is, so I think we start with a very progressive tax system.
“We can get debt on a stable to declining basis broadly with the measures that we’ve already announced.”
Last month the head of the United Nations urged governments to impose a “solidarity or wealth tax” on rich people who profited during the coronavirus pandemic. UN secretary-general Antonio Guterres said the new tax scheme would help slash extreme inequality.
Billionaires around the world saw their net worth skyrocket during the pandemic as they cashed in on new consumer habits and products.
Amazon chief executive Jeff Bezos saw his net worth catapult by $73 billion between mid-March and mid-September last year, according to a report by US think tank the Institute for Policy Studies.
Meanwhile, Facebook chief executive Mark Zuckerberg and Tesla boss Elon Musk each enjoyed net worth increases of more than $45 billion over the same period.
Argentina and New Zealand
Elsewhere in the world, Argentina announced a one-off tax on its richest people to help pay for medical supplies and relief for businesses struggling under the weight of the coronavirus pandemic.
Those with assets of more than 200 million pesos – £1.67 million – will have to pay about three per cent on assets declared within the country – and more than five per cent on assets held abroad.
In New Zealand, Jacinda Ardern has announced it will raise its minimum wage to $20 an hour and increase the top tax rate for the country’s highest earners to 39 per cent to pay for it.
Smaller increases in unemployment and sickness benefits will also be brought forward, with the new top tax bracket applying to anyone earning over $180,000 a year.