We don’t want billionaires’ charity. We want them to pay their taxes
“Charity is a cold, grey loveless thing. If a rich man wants to help the poor, he should pay his taxes gladly, not dole out money at a whim.” It is a phrase commonly ascribed to Clement Attlee – the credit actually belongs to his biographer, Francis Beckett – but it elegantly sums up the case for progressive taxation. According to a report by the Swiss bank UBS, last year billionaires made more money than any other point in the history of human civilisation. Their wealth jumped by a fifth – a staggering $8.9tn – and 179 new billionaires joined an exclusive cabal of 2,158. Some have signed up to Giving Pledge, committing to leave half their wealth to charity. Who can begrudge the generosity of the wealthy, you might say. And he’s right: rich people and major corporations have the means to legally avoid tax. There’s another issue, too. • Owen Jones is a Guardian columnist … some things have changed. The Guardian is editorially independent.
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