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83 Millionaires Sign Open Letter Asking To Be Taxed More To Help With COVID-19

A group of more than 80 fabulously wealthy individuals is calling for governments to raise taxes on the ultra-rich, themselves included, to help pay for relief for poorer citizens hit hard by the coronavirus pandemic.

In an open letter the group, calling themselves "Millionaires for Humanity," demanded that governments "raise taxes on people like us. Immediately. Substantially. Permanently."

The signatories come from the U.S., U.K., Canada, Germany, New Zealand, and The Netherlands.

Among those signing the letter are Walt Disney Co. heiress Abigail Disney and her brother, screenwriter Tim Disney, Ben & Jerry's co-founder Jerry Greenfield, Love, Actually director Richard Curtis, documentary producer and director Amy Ziering, and former BlackRock managing director Morris Pearl.

They all say that they and other wealthy people like them need to be taxed more.

With millions out of work and unable to make ends meet, there are limits to what charitable giving can accomplish, the signers wrote.

Unsplash | Kat Yukawa

As CNBC reported, 32% of households in the U.S. missed their July housing payments.

"The problems caused by, and revealed by, Covid-19 can't be solved with charity, no matter how generous," the letter from Millionaires for Humanity reads. "Government leaders must take the responsibility for raising the funds we need and spending them fairly. We can ensure we adequately fund our health systems, schools, and security through a permanent tax increase on the wealthiest people on the planet, people like us."

As they note, they're not in a great position to help with much other than their money.

"As Covid-19 strikes the world, millionaires like us have a critical role to play in healing our world. No, we are not the ones caring for the sick in intensive care wards. We are not driving the ambulances that will bring the ill to hospitals. We are not restocking grocery store shelves or delivering food door to door," they wrote.

"But we do have money, lots of it. Money that is desperately needed now and will continue to be needed in the years ahead, as our world recovers from this crisis."

However, the Millionaires for Humanity also see a role to play for increased taxes beyond pandemic relief.

As letter-signer Morris Pearl told CBS MoneyWatch, "the current system is unsustainable."

"Having a few rich people and a lot of poor people won't work in the long term. It might be fun to make more millions this month or next month, but over the long run I want my children and grandchildren to have the opportunities that I did — and they won't be able to if we don't change course."

He added that he has made more money since the pandemic started thanks to stock market gains. "I'm wealthier than I was before the pandemic, and I don't even work for a living."

The letter acknowledges that, like Pearl, none of the signers have faced an increased risk from the pandemic whatsoever.

Unsplash | Sharon McCutcheon

"We owe a huge debt to the people working on the frontlines of this global battle. Most essential workers are grossly underpaid for the burden they carry. At the vanguard of this fight are our health care workers, 70 percent of whom are women. They confront the deadly virus each day at work, while bearing the majority of responsibility for unpaid work at home."

"So please. Tax us. Tax us. Tax us. It is the right choice. It is the only choice," the letter concludes.

The Millionaires for Humanity did not suggest exactly how much the wealthy should be taxed.

However, at least for Abigail Disney, closing the wealth gap and battling inequality has long been a cause. In a 2019 op-ed for The Washington Post, for example, she noted that Walt Disney CEO Bob Iger took home an "insane" $65.6 million paycheck while the workers cleaning bathrooms in Disney parks struggled to make ends meet.

"You do not exist merely for the benefit of shareholders and managers," she wrote. "Reward all the people who make you successful, help rebuild the American middle class and respect the dignity of the men and women who work just as hard as you do to make Disney the amazing company it is."

h/t: CBS News