US actor Mark Ruffalo on Tuesday joined a call by over 150 wealthy people for governments to tax them more, as global elites and policymakers met at the World Economic Forum in Swiss resort Davos.
The face of Hulk in a decade of Marvel movies was one of dozens of new millionaires to put their names to an open letter titled “In Tax We Trust”, which was first delivered to attendees at a virtual WEF conference in January.
“While the world has gone through an immense amount of suffering in the last two years, we have actually seen our wealth rise during the pandemic — yet few if any of us can honestly say that we pay our fair share in taxes,” the letter read.
The Patriotic Millionaires group said it had boosted the number of signatories to over 150 by May, from 100 in January.
Its chairman Morris Pearl, a former managing director at mammoth asset manager BlackRock, vowed in a statement to “continue to pressure global leaders to heed our call: tax the rich before it’s too late”.
But Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) secretary-general Mathias Cormann said that wealth taxes could be less effective than other revenue-raising options.
“They don’t necessarily raise that much revenue,” he told a panel discussion at Davos.
“In terms of the politics of it, it’s attractive, but in terms of the substance of what it achieves it’s not that attractive.”
Cormann did suggest that “property taxes are probably the most efficient, least distorting” form of wealth tax.
“There’s huge scope in wealth taxation… it’s been tried and in some countries it works,” Oxfam executive director Gabriela Bucher responded.
“These amounts that are being accumulated. You could not spend them in several lifetimes”.
Cormann and the OECD are betting on a deal struck by over 130 countries last year to tax multinational companies at a minimum of 15 percent to boost revenue for hard-up governments.
Asked if Washington might walk back its commitment should Republicans win control of Congress at November mid-term elections, Cormann said that “it’s in the rational self-interest of the United States to be part of this deal”.
For companies, it’s “much better for them to be operating in a globally consistent framework” rather than navigate conflicting tax regimes, he added.
“I can’t imagine that any country or any side of politics in any country would make a judgement that would put themselves at that sort of disadvantage.”