Thursday, May 27, 2010

World’s Wealthy Tapped for Cash as Governments Tax High Incomes


From Athens to Olympia, Washington, governments made poorer by the recession are looking to higher taxes on the rich for cash.

Spain’s wealthiest should be tapped to help close the euro region’s third-largest budget deficit, Prime Minister Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero said yesterday. The U.K. has boosted taxes on high earners and French and Swedish politicians are calling for the same. The top U.S. tax rate is set to rise in 2011, while at least 14 states have lifted rates or are considering increases.

“There’s a real move to get at whatever revenue you can get at without being so broad as to get the populace all up in arms,” said Scott Pattison, executive director of the National Association of State Budget Officers in Washington. “You go where the money is.”

The longest recession since the Great Depression has deprived governments of revenue, opening gaps between what they take in and what they must spend to sustain their economies. Budget deficits in advanced economies have swollen more than eight-fold since 2007 to about 9 percent of gross domestic product, the International Monetary Fund said.

U.S. states are projected to confront $124 billion in cumulative budget gaps in the next two fiscal years, according to the Pew Center on the States, confronting politicians with the need to raise revenue and cut spending to balance budgets.

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