Bill Gates paid over S$13 billion in taxes and wants to pay more

Co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, at an event to launch the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland on Jan 26, 2018.
Co-founder of the Microsoft Corporation, Bill Gates, at an event to launch the Global Academy of Agriculture and Food Security at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland on Jan 26, 2018. PHOTO: AFP

WASHINGTON (AFP) - Bill Gates says he has paid more than US$10 billion (S$13 billion) in taxes over a lifetime but billionaires like him should pay "significantly" more because they benefit more from the system.

The Microsoft co-founder, the world's second richest man after Amazon's Jeff Bezos, was critical of a recent US tax overhaul that slashed corporate taxes and lowered the top bracket for individual income.

"I've paid more taxes, over US$10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require the people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes," he said in an interview Sunday with CNN.

He said the tax overhaul passed in December favours the rich despite Republican claims it will help the middle and working classes.

"People who are wealthier tended to get dramatically more benefits than the middle class or those who are poor, and so it runs counter to the general trend you'd like to see, where the safety net is getting stronger and those at the top are paying higher taxes," he said.

With a sixth of the US population living in what he called "disappointing" conditions, he said US policymakers need to think about rising inequality and ask, "Why aren't we doing a better job for those people?"