Washington, D.C. – On January 17, the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS), Oxfam, Patriotic Millionaires, and the Fight Inequality Alliance released a critical new report, Extreme Wealth: The growing number of people with extreme wealth and what an annual wealth tax could raise.”

Complementing Oxfam’s latest analysis, “Survival of the Richest,” this report includes country-by-country data on wealth inequality and the revenue possibilities of national wealth taxes.

As the global billionaire class gathers in Davos, Switzerland, the one acute crisis they probably won’t talk about as much is the extreme concentration of wealth and power happening across the globe.

Estimates from this new report show that $1.7 trillion could have been raised by wealth taxes on the ultra rich in 2022 alone and used to tackle inequality in 60 countries across the world.

Chuck Collins, report co-author, Institute for Policy Studies: “The concentration of wealth in the hands of the ultra-wealthy is endangering our democracy, economic stability, and social cohesion. Our failure to tax the rich effectively is making things much, much worse. The U.S. system for taxing income and inheritances is regressive, porous and ineffective at both reducing inequality and raising revenue. The only reasonable way to fix our extreme wealth problem is by taxing that wealth directly — we need a national wealth tax, starting on households with wealth over $50 million.”

Key report findings:

The report looks at how the global wealthy have become even wealthier over the last decade and finds that:

  • The total number of people in the world with at least $5 million in net wealth has grown by 53% and individuals with a net wealth of $50 million or more, have enjoyed similar growth levels.
  • The global billionaire class has more than doubled and their wealth has skyrocketed at a similar rate: 99.6%. This is a gain of more than $5.9 trillion — almost twice as much as the combined GDP of Africa, a continent with over 1.3 billion people.
  • Wealth in the U.S. has been steadily concentrating in fewer hands. U.S. households with more than $50 million have seen their wealth increase 53.9% since 2012.  
  • As of November 22, there are an estimated 1,468,400 individuals in the U.S. with wealth over $5 million. Their total combined wealth is equal to $28 trillion.
  • Within this group, there are 64,500 individuals with wealth over $50 million, with a combined wealth of $12.5 trillion.
  • There are 728 U.S. billionaires with a combined wealth of $4.5 trillion, a 34.6 increase since the pandemic began in mid-March 2020.
  • Since 2012, the richest 1% in the U.S. saw their wealth gain 19 times more than the bottom half of the country’s population.
  • For every $100 of wealth created over the last decade, $37.40 went to the top 1%. The bottom half of U.S. households only saw a $2 gain. 
  • In the U.S., a graduated annual wealth tax of 2% on millionaires over $5 million, 3% on wealth over $50 million, and 5% on wealth over $1 billion, would raise $583.5 billion in revenue annually.

The report calculations are based on the most up-to-date and comprehensive data sources available. Data on the richest individuals is from Wealth-X and figures on billionaires come from Forbes’ Billionaires List.

Omar Ocampo, report co-author, Institute for Policy Studies: “High degrees of economic inequality have a detrimental effect on society and democracy. The implementation of a progressive wealth tax is necessary to break up the extreme levels of concentration that exist at the top of the wealth distribution. It is a key policy tool needed to confront inequality and ensure that wealth and prosperity produced is shared.”

Read the full report.

Read an in-depth analysis of the report’s findings

For more information and to speak with report co-authors Chuck Collins and Omar Ocampo, contact IPS’s Deputy Communications Director Olivia Alperstein at (202) 704-9011 or olivia@ips-dc.org


About the Institute for Policy Studies

For nearly six decades, the Institute for Policy Studies has provided critical research support for major social movements and progressive leaders inside and outside government and on the ground around the United States and the world. As the United States’ oldest progressive multi-issue think tank, IPS turns bold ideas into action through public scholarship and mentorship of the next generation of progressive scholars and activists.

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