Oxfam International

04/11/2024 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 04/11/2024 08:18

EU governments miss 33 million euros per hour in unpaid taxes from Europe’s super-rich

EU governments are losing out on a staggering 286.5 billion euros in revenue annually, equivalent to 33 million euros per hour, due to their failure to fairly tax Europe's wealthiest. This amount, equivalent to Finland's GDP, represents what a European wealth tax of up to 5 percent could raise every year, according to Oxfam's analysis.

The wealthiest 1 percent in Europe owns nearly half of all the financial wealth on the continent, including bank deposits, stocks, bonds, and loans. Since 2020, EU billionaires increased their accumulated wealth by one-third, reaching 1.9 trillion euros last year. At the same time, 99 percent of the EU's population has become poorer.

This gap between Europe's super-rich and ordinary people is widening every year because EU governments are failing to fairly tax extreme wealth. In France, the average person pays approximately 50 percent of their economic income in taxes - all taxes combined - whereas a person in the top 0.0002 percent only pays 2 percent. In Italy, while most citizens pay between 40 and 50 percent of their income in taxes, billionaires only pay about 20 percent.

"Up on their luxurious private jets, a privileged few thrive while bills stack higher and higher for the many and the planet burns. Governments can no longer excuse their 'lack of funds' for failing to fight the climate crisis and end poverty. The money they need is in the pockets of the super-rich", said Chiara Putaturo, Oxfam's EU tax expert.

A progressive wealth tax between 2 and 5 percent rate on the EU's multi-millionaires and billionaires could collect 286.5 billion euros annually. This money could pay for:

  • Almost 40 percent of the EU's post-pandemic recovery fund.
  • Over three times the EU's 7-year aid budget.
  • More than half of the highest estimate of the world annual costs for climate crisis adaptation and mitigation in low- and middle-income countries.

Europe's wealthiest are also Europe's biggest polluters. A person from the richest 1 percent emits on average 14 times more carbon (CO2) than a person in the bottom 50 percent. A European wealth tax could also address the excessive emissions of the super-rich, channelling this wealth into funding public services and meeting climate goals.

Nearly 7 in 10 Europeans agree on taxing the rich to support the poor. Oxfam, together with economists, multi-millionaires, and politicians, backs a European Citizens' Initiative for a European wealth tax.