Wealth tax could raise billions for good causes

Labour MP Frank Field has proposed a tax on the super-rich that would raise £3.6bn a year for charities.

The MP for Birkenhead suggested that ‘super-earners’ should pay an additional 10 per cent tax on earnings over £150,000 as part of an “acceptable behaviour contract” designed to reinforce the link between wealth and philanthropy. He suggested that the proceeds would either be donated to charity by the Government, or earners would be able to donate the sum to charity themselves.

Field made the suggestions in a lecture titled Acceptable Behaviour Contracts for the Super-Rich, which took place on Tuesday and was organised by the Allen Lane Foundation. He suggested that the super-rich should embrace the responsibilities of their wealth through philanthropy, as was characteristic in Edwardian times.

He said that his proposals would awaken a giving culture, which had not been seen after Margaret Thatcher’s tax-cutting strategy, which saw the top rate of tax cut from 98p to 60p and then to 40p in the 1979 and 1988 budgets.

“Today’s super-rich, and there are some notable exceptions, are neither employers of great numbers of people, nor generous in charitable giving,” he said. “The contract therefore between great wealth and philanthropy has been fractured. Contracts on acceptable behaviour have been imposed on miscreant youths who do not fulfil properly their obligations to a society that supports them. Similarly, I believe acceptable behaviour contracts should now be applied to today’s super-rich.

“The cornerstone of this new contract will be the levying of a 10 per cent additional rate of tax. The whole of this tax can be off-set by individuals setting up their own foundations, or supporting existing foundations.”

He added: “Taking £150,000 a year income as the starting point, and if everyone responded positively to this idea, an additional annual £3.6bn would be deployed into new or existing foundations.”

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