Bill Gates has followed Jeff Bezos to become the world’s second ‘centi-billionaire’ after his fortune reached the $100 billion threshold.
According to Bloomberg, which tracks the wealth of the planet’s richest people through its Billionaires Index, the Microsoft co-founder has already earned $9.5 billion so far this year – taking him right up to the magic $100 billion mark.
The only other member of the ultra-exclusive $100 billion club is Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, who became the first centi-billionare in history in November 2017 and is now worth $146 billion.
Bezos, who started e-commerce marketplace Amazon in 1994, has amassed a staggering $20.7 billion since January 1.
Once the world’s richest person, Gates was eclipsed by Bezos in July 2017, but has also donated more than $35 billion to charity through the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
He has said he intends to give away at least half of his wealth to programs that reduce poverty, enhance healthcare and expand education.
Jeff Bezos, meanwhile, may have to cede some of his vast fortune to his wife of 25 years, Mackenzie, during their imminent divorce.
The climbing fortunes of Gates and Bezos are indicative of America’s expanding wealth gap.
The middle class has a significantly smaller share of overall U.S. income and wealth than it did four decades ago – and it’s losing ground to the richest of the rich, who have nearly doubled their share of overall U.S. income since 1980.
The richest 10 per cent of Americans accounted for 44.9 per cent of all income in 1980 – with the top 1 per cent alone accounting for 10.7 per cent of all income.
But by 2014 that wealthy 10 per cent accounted for 67.2 per cent of all income, and the top 1 per cent made 20.2 per cent of all income in the U.S.
ALSO READ: My encounter with ‘Bill Gates’
Indeed, billionaire investor and the world’s fourth richest man Warren Buffett said last month that the wealthy – including himself – are not paying enough taxes.
‘The wealthy are definitely undertaxed relative to the general population,’ Buffett, the chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc, told CNBC television.
‘As we get more specialized, the rich will get richer,’ he continued.
‘The question is: How do you take care of a guy who is a wonderful citizen whose father died in Normandy and just doesn’t have market skills?
‘I think the income tax credit is the best way to address that.
‘That probably means more taxes for guys like me, and I’m fine with it,’ he said.
After regaining control of the House of Representatives in the 2018 midterm elections, some Democratic lawmakers have also been calling for higher taxes on the wealthy.
They include Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, a Democrat from New York City, who has proposed a 70 percent marginal tax on incomes over $10 million to bridge the growing wealth gap between the rich and poor.
According to Bloomberg, there are also 145 people in the world who are designated ‘deca-billionaires’ with fortunes of at least $10 billion, and some 2,800 regular billionaires.