The OECD study polled respondents in 21 countries around the world including the U.S., Mexico, Finland, and Germany. Describing the survey results as “deeply worrying,” OECD said that the results show a deepening lack of trust between people and their governments, as fully 60% of those polled believe that they are not getting sufficient value for the amount of tax they pay.
Everyone Believes Wealth Inequality is a Problem
There are many striking insights in the report, but what jumps out immediately is the fact that two problematic ideas are widespread. First of all in all the 21 countries polled, more than half of the respondents claimed that the government needs to tax the rich more to support the poor. This holds true even in countries like Finland and Lithuania, where inequality is not nearly as big an issue as, say, Mexico.
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Despite their widely varying economic positions, almost 80% of respondents in Germany, Portugal, and Greece want their government to tax the wealthy some more. In the U.S., the number falls to just over half of all respondents.
The problem is that the OECD did not set a specific income level to describe what “wealthy” is, and some of these countries on this list already have eye-watering top tax rates. Clearly, the “wealthy” are already paying a proportionate tax burden, yet the perception persists that the situation is somehow unfair to those in the middle classes.
More interestingly, when asked if they believe that they are getting value for their tax burden, a significant majority of respondents across board responded negatively, citing unsatisfactory healthcare and lack of easy access to social benefits as their reasons. Again, this happened even in countries with excellent social support systems.
Not Just AOC: Most People Want to Hike Taxes on the Rich
Inevitably, U.S. House Democrat Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez must feature in any discussion about reforming the tax system. Over the past few months, she has dominated headlines due to her support for a 70% top marginal tax rate for incomes above $10 million. Despite the policy proposal coming from a distinctly left-of-center position, data shows that it enjoys widespread bipartisan support among American voters, which could yet turn into a major problem for the pro-tax cut Donald Trump administration.
Similar proposals have been put forward in France by the so-calledgilets jaunes(yellow vests) protesters. The problem with such policies, as explained recently by Bill Gates, is not so much that they arewrong, but that wealthy individuals will find tax code loopholes.
In other words, politicians like AOC have successfully sold a dream to voters around the world, convincing them that they deserve a lot more than what they are getting with their tax money – and that someone else should pay for it.
About The Author
I am a busy writer, journalist and entrepreneur with an interest in tech and finance. When I’m not contributing to CCN and traveling around Africa, you can catch me in the writers room at ‘The Other News’, Nigeria’s weekly answer to ‘The Daily Show’ with nearly 2 million viewers.My work on ‘The Other News’ was featured in the New Yorker Magazine, and that was then cited in the Washington Post so I’m not sure that counts as a feature but I’ll definitely mention it too!I have been nominated by the US State Department to take part in the 2019 Edward R. Murrow Program for journalists under the International Visitors Leadership Program.I also like hamsters.