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Billionaires’ Tax Sought by UN to Fund Programs for Poor

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July 5 (Bloomberg) -- The United Nations, faced with a dearth of donors, pitched a tax on billionaires to help raise money for development projects in the world’s poorest nations.

Placing a 1 percent levy on “individual wealth holdings” of at least $1 billion could raise as much as $50 billion, according to the UN’s World Economic and Social Survey published today.

The proposal to target the world’s wealthiest citizens comes amid a global economic slowdown that has left donor nations tightening budgets and forced the UN to look for more inventive ways to raise as much as $400 billion toward development assistance. The UN has no taxing powers, so any such tax would be up to the individual member nations.

“The ’average’ billionaire would own $3.7 billion after paying the tax,” according to the report. “If that billionaire spent $1,000 per day, it would take him or her over 10,000 years to spend all his or her wealth. Would this hurt them?”

The report said a billionaires’ tax proposal -- on a list of “innovative sources” of development finance -- “is not yet in any international agenda.”

The UN report says there are more than 1,200 billionaires worldwide, of which at least 425 are in the U.S., 315 in Asia and 310 in Europe. Their combined worth is about $4.6 trillion dollars, according to the report.

To contact the reporter responsible for this story: Flavia Krause-Jackson at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: John Walcott at

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