A Belgian economist has proposed a special tax on older people to help the young overcome the economic problems caused by the coronavirus (Covid-19).
Older people aged over 65 years suffer disproportionately from the medical effects of the virus, admits Jan-Emmanuel De Neve, who teaches at Oxford university. But the economic effects come down hardest on the young.
“Young people benefit the least from the lockdown measures, because they are less susceptible to the virus,” De Neve told VRT news. “The older generation should realise that young people are sacrificing themselves, both economically and in terms of mental health.”
His suggestion: a corona-tax on the older generation, possibly a one-off tax, to be used to cushion the blow of the pandemic on the prospects of younger people.
The proposal comes with no details attached, such as the age of those who would have to pay, or what happens with those who are of age but have fewer means.
In any case, the proposal received a resounding No vote from the readers of one newspaper in an informal poll, which placed 67% against and only 22% in favour, with 11 people uncommitted.
Marjan Maes, a pensions expert at the university of Leuven, described the corona-tax as not a good idea and not thought through.
“A corona-tax on the elderly seems to me to be anything but an effective instrument to improve the mental well-being and opportunities of our children and that of parents who work from home. What would be required, among other things, is to let them go back to school and to invest in quality education, so that their parents can also concentrate on their work again.”
One instrument that would be useful, she said, is the progressive reduction of tax breaks on higher pensions, as part of a reform of the whole pensions system. She also proposes “an effective increase in the actual retirement age, to ensure that future costs are shared fairly among the generations. The longer such reform is put off, the more chance there will be of a real generational conflict.”