Should Billionaires Be Forced to Pay a 1% Tax for International Development?

_J_D_R_/CC BY 2.0

With nations falling short on their development pledges, the UN has proposed a number of methods for raising money for international development aid. Some of these are fairly routine, in theory if not yet practices, such as carbon taxes, levies on air travel, currency transaction taxes. But one in particular is interesting: Taxing the world's billionaires.

IPS News reports that the UN's World Economic and Social Survey: In Search of New Development Finance recommends a 1% tax on each billion dollars of wealth, which would raise more than 400 billion dollars annually for development assistance—more than closing the international 167 billion shortfall in aid and equalling the amount the UN says is needed each year to help nations meet the Millennium Development Goals as well as adapt to climate change.

So what do TreeHugger readers think: Let's assume the logistics of such a tax can be worked out (I know, far from assured given the way recent UN environment conferences have gone), do you all think it's a good idea, a good method of funding international development?

Keep in mind that there are currently 1,225 billionaires in the world, 400 of whom are in the US.

Which makes me think, though I like the UN proposal, in this specific case it'd be easier to convince billionaires personally to donate a percentage of their wealth for development than jump through all the hoops required to implement an actual tax.

While we're at it, why stop at 1%? Such a levy still leaves people with more personal wealth than frankly anyone ever needs. Even a 5% tax would leave those 1,225 billionaires fabulously, obscenely, disgustingly wealthy.

Tags: Developing Nations | United Nations