Just 8 pence in every pound of tax revenue collected in G20 countries comes from taxes on wealth

- Published:
- Short URL: https://www.oxfam.org.uk/mc/nqcvt4/

Just eight pence in every pound raised in tax revenue in G20 countries now comes from taxes on wealth, reveals new analysis by Oxfam today ahead of the first meeting of G20 Finance Ministers and Central Bank Governors in Sao Paulo, Brazil.

By comparison, more than 32 pence in every pound (over four times as much) is collected from taxes on goods and services. Taxes on food and other necessities, for example, shift more of the tax burden onto lower-income families. In countries including Brazil, France, Italy, the UK and US, the super-rich pay an effective tax rate lower than the average worker.

Oxfam’s research also found that the share of national income going to the top 1 per cent of earners in G20 countries has increased by 45 per cent over the last four decades. During the same period, the top tax rates on their incomes have fallen by roughly a third (from around 60 per cent in 1980 to 40 per cent in 2022).

G20 countries are home to nearly four out of five of the world’s billionaires. The top 1 per cent of earners in G20 countries made more than $18 trillion (£14.2 trillion) in income 2022, a figure higher than the entire GDP of China.

Katy Chakrabortty, Oxfam Head of Policy and Advocacy said, "Countries are putting more and more money and power into the hands of a tiny, inequality-fuelling elite. As the finance ministers of the world's largest economies gather this week, the focus should be on agreeing policies that close the gap between the richest and the rest – that means fairer taxation and support for everyone.

“Taxes on food and other necessities, for example, shift more of the tax burden onto lower-income families, and women in particular. Higher taxes for the super-rich means being able to tackle poverty, invest in the care and public services we need and protect the climate. It also means being able to repair holes in social safety nets, to soften the blow of future crises.”

Higher taxes on the wealth and income of the richest could raise the trillions of dollars needed to tackle both inequality and climate breakdown. Oxfam estimates that a global wealth tax of up to 5 per cent on the G20’s multimillionaires and billionaires could raise nearly $1.5 trillion (£1.1 trillion) a year. This would be enough to end global hunger, help low- and middle-income countries adapt to climate change, and bring the world back on track to meeting the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) —and still leave more than $546 billion (£430 billion) to invest in public services and climate action in G20 countries. A wealth tax on British millionaires and billionaires at a rate of between one to two per cent on net wealth above £10 million, could generate up to £22 billion each year.

Brazil, as chair of the G20, plans to forge the first global agreement on taxing the super-rich to reduce global inequality. A recent poll on behalf of Patriotic Millionaires revealed that nearly three-quarters of millionaires in G20 countries support higher taxes on wealth, and over half think extreme wealth is a “threat to democracy.”


For more information and interviews, please contact Lisa Rutherford on +44 (0)7917 791 836 / lrutherford@oxfam.org.uk

Notes to Editor:

Studies in Brazil, France, Italy, the UK and US have shown that the super-rich pay a lower effective tax rate than the average worker.

Members of the G20 collect on average just 7.6 per cent of their tax revenue through taxes on wealth (excluding India, Russia and Saudi Arabia, for which data is not available). Wealth taxes include property tax, inheritance tax, recurrent and non-recurrent net wealth taxes and all other forms of wealth taxes. On average, these G20 countries collect 32.3 per cent of their tax revenue through taxes on goods and services (4.24 times as much), including VAT, GST and other indirect taxes. Data is from the OECD’s Global Revenue Statistics Database.

According to the World Bank, China’s GDP is $17.96 trillion (£14.18 trillion).

Exchange rate as per 22 February 2024 - 1 USD equals 0.79 GBP

The richest 1 per cent of people in G20 countries (excluding the European Union and the African Union) earned 16 per cent of pre-tax national income in 2022, compared to 11 per cent in 1980. This is an increase of 45 per cent. Data is from the World Inequality Database.

The top marginal tax rate on personal income in 1980 was 59.5 per cent on average across 17 G20 countries (there is no personal income tax in Saudi Arabia, and Russia was excluded due to data limitations). In 2022, the average top tax rate had fallen to 40.4 per cent in the same 17 countries, equivalent to a 32.1 per cent drop.

Nearly three-quarters of millionaires polled in G20 countries support higher taxes on wealth, and over half think extreme wealth is a “threat to democracy.” 72 per cent think that extreme wealth helps buy political influence.

Polling consistently finds that most people across countries support raising taxes on the richest. For example, three quarters of Britons, the majority of people in the US, 80 of Indians, 85 per cent of Brazilians and 69 per cent of people polled across 34 countries in Africa support increasing taxes on the rich.

Press contact

For comments, interviews, or information please contact Lisa Rutherford (Senior Press Officer):