(NY Post) - A German heir inheriting billions of dollars from her extremely wealthy grandparents said she was “annoyed” by the incoming fortune and wants nearly all of it to be taxed away.
The surprising response from Marlene Engelhorn, of Austria, came after her grandmother died last month — leaving behind the massive sum of money that came from the family’s centuries-old chemical company.
Last year, in a profile by Vice News, Engelhorn told the outlet in German that “nobody should have that much tax-free money and power.”
Engelhorn is the co-founder of a group called Tax Me Now, an initiative of affluent people who want wealth to be redistributed through greater taxes on the rich in Germany and Austria.
The heir specifically advocates for high taxes on inherited wealth because, she says, the money isn’t earned by the inheritor and should thus be democratically allocated.
Austria, where Englehorn resides, opted to abolish its inheritance tax in 2008.
“I am the product of an unequal society,” Engelhorn said in a speech at a Millionaires for Humanity event in late August in Amsterdam. “Because otherwise, I couldn’t be born into multimillions. Just born. Nothing else.”
Her family’s multibillion-dollar fortune comes from Friedrich Engelhorn’s founding of the chemical company BASF in 1865. The family’s net worth is estimated to be $4.2 billion, according to Forbes.
Englehorn grew up in a mansion in Vienna and attended French-language schools, according to the Times.
She said she lived a privileged life that provided a “very, very narrow view of the world.”
In college, she gained a new perspective and in 2020, she began to think about wealth redistribution upon learning she would be a partial inheritor to her grandmother’s fortune when she died.
“I don’t think that I should be in power or in charge the way that I could be if I use my wealth accordingly,” Englehorn told the Times.
She said inherited money should be taxed rather than donated to a cause of one person’s interests.
“I would like tax justice to take this impossible decision off my hands,” she said.