One percent wealth tax could educate every child and save 3 million lives
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One percent wealth tax could educate every child and save 3 million lives

THE world’s 26 richest people own as much as the poorest 50 percent, a new report from Oxfam has found, as the charity pushes for a one percent wealth tax that could educate the entire world.

The annual wealth check, launched as political and business leaders gather for the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, shows a widening gap in inequality as 2018 saw the rich grow richer and the poor poorer.

“Billionaire fortunes increased by 12 percent last year – or US$2.5 billion a day – while the 3.8 billion people who make up the poorest half of humanity saw their wealth decline by 11 percent,” the report said.

The charity found a new billionaire was created every two days between 2017 and 2018, seeing the number of billionaires double since the 2008 financial crisis.

Despite this immense wealth, governments are taxing corporations and the super-rich less than ever before, compounding the inequality rife throughout society.

The report “reveals how governments are exacerbating inequality by underfunding public services, such as healthcare and education, on the one hand, while under taxing corporations and the wealthy, and failing to clamp down on tax dodging, on the other.”

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The top rate of personal income tax in rich countries fell from 62 percent in 1970 to just 38 percent in 2013. The average rate in poor countries is just 28 percent.

Public services are buckling under the chronic underfunding, making education and healthcare a luxury in some countries rather than a right.

“The size of your bank account should not dictate how many years your children spend in school, or how long you live – yet this is the reality in too many countries across the globe,” Winnie Byanyima, Executive Director of Oxfam International, said in a statement.

“While corporations and the super-rich enjoy low tax bills, millions of girls are denied a decent education and women are dying for lack of maternity care.”

To rectify the imbalance, Oxfam is proposing a one percent wealth tax which they believe would raise an estimated US$418 billion a year – enough to educate every child not in school and provide healthcare that would prevent three million deaths.

“People across the globe are angry and frustrated.  Governments must now deliver real change by ensuring corporations and wealthy individuals pay their fair share of tax and investing this money in free healthcare and education that meets the needs of everyone,” said Byanyima.

“Governments can build a brighter future for everyone – not just a privileged few.”