MOST OF US THINK IT MAKES PERFECT SENSE. Tax the rich more. Get more of what we need from those with way more than they need. Simple.
So simple that a recent Abacus poll found a staggering 67 per cent of all Canadians support, or somewhat support, creating a wealth tax—an additional tax on all the assets of the super rich; a tax that would apply to all their wealth and not just their yearly income.
Only 14 per cent were opposed or somewhat opposed. That means almost five times more of us than not think taxing the rich more is an idea whose time has come.
The proposal had the support of over two-thirds of respondents in every province in the country. The highest support by age group was among those over 60 years old, where 75 per cent of respondents were in favour. Support fell to 58 per cent among respondents between the ages of 18 and 29.
The poll results also suggest proposing a wealth tax would benefit any political party that proposed it. Fully 64 per sent of respondents who said they would be voting Conservative favoured creating a wealth tax; as did three-quarters of voters who indicated they would consider supporting the Liberals or NDP in this fall’s election.
NDP Leader Jagmeet Singh is calling for an additional annual one per cent tax on Canadians with wealth over $20 million.
Prominent U.S. Democratic presidential contenders Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are campaigning on taxing the super-rich, with Warren calling for a two per cent annual tax on wealth above $50 million, rising to three per cent on billionaires.
How much is too much?
Twenty six individuals now have as much wealth as the bottom half of humanity (3.8 billion people). Conservative commentators have no problem with this. Will the reality of fewer and fewer owning more and more ever concern them? What if one individual had as much as the rest of humanity? Would that be a problem? Would a wealth tax be a good idea then?
A wealth tax would redirect a tiny fraction of the obscene fortunes of the ultra-rich back to the community—the community that paid the bulk of the taxes used to build all the infrastructure the rich use to amass their bloated fortunes.
A wealth tax would also help curb the enormous political power of the super-rich. Fossil fuel billionaires, for instance, have effectively managed to block global efforts against climate change.
The undeserving rich
We hear a lot about how we need to beware of the devious ways of the “undeserving poor”. We never hear anything about the devious ways of the undeserving rich; of how they use the tax system to perpetuate their economic, political and social dominance.
Canada is the only G7 country without an inheritance tax.
The net worth of Canada’s wealthiest 87 families grew by more than $800 million per family, between 2012 and 2016, according to a study by the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives.
The study also found that inheritance is growing in importance. Passing down wealth from generation to generation for Canada’s wealthiest families jumped from 45 per sent in 1999 to 53 per cent in 2016. Proving again that the super-rich are nothing like the self-made entrepreneurs they claim to be.
Turns out that Canada’s billionaires are born rich. They are mostly winners in what Warren Buffett calls the “ovarian lottery.” Something that has more to do with luck than hard work.
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