Australia’s billionaires would have to hand over an additional 6 per cent of their personal wealth to the taxman every year under a proposal by the Australian Greens.
Under the proposal, a 6 per cent wealth tax would apply to the net wealth of Australia’s wealthiest individuals, and when applied to just 122 rich individuals, would generate $40 billion in the “medium term”, according to the Greens.
The 6 per cent tax would see Gina Rinehart’s wealth – which more than doubled during the pandemic to $36.28 billion – stripped by $2.2 billion.
Meanwhile, the tax applied to mining magnate, former politician and billionaire Clive Palmer – whose wealth also more than doubled during the pandemic to nearly $10 billion – would generate $586 million.
The concept is part of the Greens party’s recently released ‘Fight for the Future’ campaign, which outlines 15 ‘big ideas’ that encompasses plans to tackle climate change, improved public services, job creation, free childcare, and free education.
While the pandemic plunged thousands into unemployment and the nation dipped into the first recession in three decades, the country’s richest actually increased their personal wealth by 56 per cent during COVID-19, according to Bloomberg data.
“While everyone else has been doing it tough during the pandemic, the billionaires have been making out like bandits,” said Greens leader Adam Bandt.
“If we want to fight inequality and the climate crisis, we need to tackle the wealth and power of the billionaires and the big corporations and make them pay their fair share."
Greens economic justice spokesperson said that billionaires had increased their wealth at a time when thousands of other Aussies had lost their jobs or had their working hours slashed.
“They have amassed truly obscene amounts of wealth, often through companies that have plundered our natural environment and made the climate emergency worse.
“The very least they can do is start paying their fair share of tax.”
The idea of a wealth tax is not a new one; US senator and law professor Elizabeth Warren has called for an 'Ultra-Millionaire Tax' that would see the richest 0.1 per cent of Americans pay an annual 2 per cent on every dollar on assets over US $50 million, and a 6 per cent tax on every dollar over $1 billion.
Bill Gates has also supported higher taxes for America's wealthiest, but stopped short of supporting a wealth tax.
“I’ve paid over $10 billion in taxes, I’ve paid more than anyone in taxes,” Gates said during a 2019 conference.
“If I’d had to have paid $20 billion in taxes – fine. But, when you say I should pay $100 billion, okay I’m starting to do a little math about what I have left over.”
Instead of a wealth tax, Gates suggested alternatives, such as increasing the capital gains tax or estate tax instead.