Argentina seeks wealth tax for COVID-19 relief

Argentina's Congress may impose a wealth tax to finance COVID-19 relief programs.

That debate began on Tuesday (November 17) in the country's lower house.

The government-backed bill is seeking to raise $3.75 billion US dollars through a flat tax on fortunes larger than $2.5 million, which amounts to about 12,000 individuals hit by the 2 percent tax.

Money raised by the tax is to be used to buy health equipment, fund welfare programs and provide loans to small to medium-sized business to increase employment.

Demonstrators in Buenos Aires marched to Congress in support of the bill. Their signs voiced their support, "Tax the rich already!"

But one lawmaker believed the tax would be bad for the economy: "This is a bad economic policy decision. It is a bad decision to separate the Argentines who have the vocation to carry this country forward."

Meanwhile, other lawmakers say the nation's wealthy can afford to pay a flat tax: "This is necessary to pay emergency family income and normal salary. We pay the salary of many workers from these big companies that will have to pay now. Let them pay back a little bit of the aid that the state has given them."

If passed, the bill will move to the Senate and is expected to be considered by the end of the month.