There are 44 billionaires and more than 200,000 millionaires in Singapore as at 2018.
As Singapore faces the serious problem of inequality, calls are being made for the ultra-rich to be taxed more. Some have suggested that the country introduce a capital gains tax, and also an inheritance tax for the wealthy. The latest to make such a call is Member of Parliament Cheryl Chan.
“Those with the wealth are not only on a better footing to accumulate more, they have even better access to resources that helps preserve their wealth,” Ms Chan said.
Ms Chan, a first-time MP, emphasised that wealth inequality has overtaken income inequality. And, she said, to depend on taxing income is impractical, given that Singapore has a shrinking and ageing workforce.
“After all, the ability of an average income worker to build wealth is dependent on sheer labour,” she explained. “Also, the consumption tax in one way or other does impact the lower-income group to meet their basic living expenses.”
Singapore is increasing the Goods & Services Tax (GST) from the present 7% to 9% sometime between 2021 and 2025, Finance Minister Heng Swee Keat has revealed.
Ms Chan suggested that a wealth and inheritance tax for ultra-high net worth individuals be introduced. This would mean the top 1 to 2 per cent of society would pay such taxes.
Taxing the ultra-rich has been in the news not only in Singapore but also in the States, where the wealthy such as Warren Buffett and Bill Gates have spoken out and called on the government there to tax people like them more, to bridge the inequality gap and also to help with government spending.
What do you think of taxing the rich – is it practical or necessary?