Elon Musk, Bernard Arnault … “Billionaires have earned 3.6 billion but 100 million people have been plunged into extreme poverty”!

It is an alarming report on inequalities around the world. According to the Global Inequality Report 2022, an annual report that provides a detailed inventory of global inequalities released Tuesday, December 7, the very rich have seen their fortunes grow on essentially financial wealth in recent years. Symbol of this situation Elon Musk, the world’s first fortune, who could become the first man to see his fortune exceed 1,000 billion dollars.

Coordinated by economist Lucas Chancel, with contributions from Thomas Piketty, Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, this 228-page report advocates for the establishment of progressive wealth taxation on a global scale, as well as an international financial registry to act against tax evasion. . For a small caste, this heritage is stratospheric: the ranking of the American magazine Forbes, which evaluates what the richest have in real time, shows that the top ten have more than 100 billion dollars each.

An even more polarized world

At the top of this ranking, Tesla boss Elon Musk with $ 266 billion. All the other members of this ranking are also American, with the exception of the French head of the luxury group LVMH Bernard Arnault. In all, they amassed a 12-figure fortune, mostly in tech thanks to a surge in share prices. Jeff Bezos, in second place, owns 9.9% of Amazon and Mark Zuckerberg 12.3% of Facebook.

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“After more than 18 months of Covid-19, the world is even more polarized” in terms of wealth inequality, stresses Lucas Chancel, co-director of the World Inequality Laboratory at the Paris School of Economics. “While the inheritance of billionaires has taken more than 3.6 billion euros, 100 million more people have joined the ranks of extreme poverty,” he explains, while for 25 years extreme poverty had decreased.

According to the report, the 52 richest people have seen the value of their wealth grow by 9.2% per year for 25 years, much more than the less gifted categories. The club of the richest 1%, that is, people with more than 1.3 million dollars of assets, has captured more than a third of the accumulated fortune on the planet since 1995. “Given the extremely high concentration of wealth, modest and progressive Taxes can generate significant revenue for governments “whose debt soared in the face of the 2007-2008 crisis and pandemic,” the report suggests.

Taxation in various installments

Where the wealth tax today focuses too much on land, it militates for a modernization and progressivity of this tax. All forms of assets must be considered, especially financial assets, which account for the bulk of modern fortunes. The report assesses a taxation hypothesis in several brackets, from one million dollars, and progressive to a high band that exceeds 100 billion dollars of wealth.

On tax evasion, the report recommends the creation of an international financial register, for example under the auspices of the OECD or the UN, which “would allow tax and regulatory authorities to verify whether taxpayers declare their taxes correctly. Capital assets and income, regardless of what offshore financial institutions want to communicate. “

At the same time, the Global Inequality Report calls for maintaining a wealth tax for expatriates and imposing a multi-year “exit tax” on taxpayers who decide to move for tax reasons. The more automatic exchanges of information now between tax jurisdictions and digital progress will allow a more precise application of the rules, this report also explains.

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“We are seeing the beginning of a change”, Lucas Chancel wants to believe, citing the recent introduction of an exceptional contribution on the great fortunes in Argentina, a debate on the subject during the recent German legislative elections and the voluntarism of the president. American Joe Biden, although several of his initiatives collided with Congress.

The adoption, after years of negotiations, of a proposal for a minimum tax of 15% for wealthy multinationals is also, according to him, a sign of change at work. “We will get there at some point simply because the states need to finance their expenses,” he adds.

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