Pope Francis pushes for higher taxes on wealthy

Francis’ comments came during a Wednesday meeting with the IMF

Pope Francis joined a chorus of global leaders on Wednesday in calling for higher levies on the ultra-wealthy, while warning that tax cuts for the rich are part of an overarching “structure of sin.”

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“Structures of sin today include repeated tax cuts for the richest people, often justified in the name of investment and development; tax havens for private and corporate profits, and the possibility of corruption by some of the largest companies in the world, often in tune with some dominant political sector,” he said.

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Francis’ comments came during a Wednesday meeting with the International Monetary Fund and finance ministers from across Latin America. Notable guests included IMF chief Kristalina Georgieva, as well as Argentine Finance Minister Martin Guzman.

The conference occurred ahead of Francis’ international economic summit, dubbed “the Economy of Francesco,” which will take place at a central Italian town in March. Its goal is to help young people under the need for “a new economy” that respects the environment and looks out for the poor.

“Every year hundreds of millions of dollars – which should be collected as taxes and go to finance healthcare and education – instead end up in offshore accounts,” he said.

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The first Latin American pope, who’s pushed for openness in the Catholic church, has famously described capitalism and the unbridled pursuit of profit as a “new tyranny” and the “dung of the devil.”

In 2015, 10 percent of the world’s population lived on less than $1.90 a day, according to World Bank estimates. A recent study conducted by Oxfam, a Nairobi-based charity, found that the world’s richest 2,153 people controlled more money than the poorest 4.6 billion combined.

A number of Democratic presidential candidates in the U.S., including progressive Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have unveiled proposals to tax the wealthy,

“I don’t think billionaires should exist,” Sanders, a self-avowed democratic socialist, said in September. Sanders proposed levies ranging from 1 percent on married couples with a net worth above $32 million to an 8 percent tax on wealth over $10 billion.

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