US opposes 2% global taxation on billionaires from 2024 

The Biden administration has opposed a proposal to institute a worldwide tax on the assets of the ultrawealthy, which is under consideration by some members of the G20 group of advanced economies. 

The U.S. Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, made this known while emphasizing the U.S. stance on progressive taxation, advocating for a system where the wealthy contribute a larger share of their income compared to individuals with lesser means, according to Voice of America. 

However, she voiced skepticism regarding the feasibility of implementing a global arrangement for taxing billionaires and redistributing proceeds, stating that such a plan is not something the United States can endorse. 

“It’s not that I have any objection to imposing a reasonable level of taxation, and certainly a minimum level of taxation on very-high-income individuals in the United States,

“I don’t favour this particular formulation of how to go about doing that,” Yellen said.

France is continuing to push for governments to negotiate rules that would echo deals around 140 countries on a minimum levy for corporations and rules for taxing the world’s largest digital firms. 

“For seven years as finance minister, I have fought for tax on digital giants, for a minimum tax on corporations,” French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said ahead of the meeting. “I’m planning to fight with the same determination for a minimum tax on the world’s biggest fortunes.” 

Though the rate is not clear, it may be close to 2 per cent.

What we know 

 The U.S. position presents a considerable obstacle to the proposal’s implementation, despite support from leaders of other major economies such as France and Brazil.

Yellen’s remarks signal a departure from the administration’s backing of a global minimum tax on international businesses, a measure she played a pivotal role in brokering earlier in President Joe Biden’s term. 

The proposed tax on billionaire wealth aims to curtail tax avoidance strategies employed by the ultrawealthy, who often transfer assets across borders or to tax havens beyond the reach of their home-country tax authorities.  

By shifting the focus from income to wealth taxation, the plan seeks to prevent billionaires from exploiting investment strategies that yield substantial wealth with minimal taxable income. 

More insights 

Economist Gabriel Zucman, Director of the European Union (EU) Tax Observatory, advocates for international coordination to address the regressive nature of current taxation systems, which often result in lower effective tax rates for billionaires compared to average taxpayers.

Zucman proposes a 2% annual tax on the wealth of approximately 3,000 billionaires worldwide, estimating that it could generate $250 billion in annual revenue. 

Support for the proposal extends beyond economists, with MIT professor, Esther Duflo, advocating for both the 2% tax on billionaire wealth and a global tax on international businesses.

Duflo argues that the proceeds should be directed towards assisting developing nations in adapting to climate change, framing it as a moral obligation for wealthy nations to contribute their fair share. 

While proponents emphasize the need for international cooperation to address economic inequality and environmental challenges, opposition from influential stakeholders like the United States underscores the formidable hurdles facing the proposal.

Despite endorsements from countries like France and Brazil, the path to implementing a global tax on billionaire wealth remains uncertain, highlighting the complexities of international taxation and the divergent interests of participating nations. 


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