Maverick British billionaire and renowned philanthropist Sir Richard Branson, the founder of Virgin Group, said the rich worldwide deserve to be heavily taxed if they fail to make capitalism more inclusive.

"We have to try and do everything we can to lift the vast majority of people up, when for the last few years the vast majority have not seen their living standards improve," said Branson at This week’s Milken Institute Summit in Abu Dhabi.

"I don't think we should throw out capitalism. But for those of us who are fortunate to have made wealth, we have a responsibility to throw that out there and tackle some of the great problems. If we don't do that, then we deserve to have very heavy taxes leveled on us."

Branson is part of a small but growing coterie of wealthy persons worldwide working to spread their wealth around through philanthropy, while calling on governments to levy heavier taxes on the rich to offset growing income inequality.

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has long and loudly called for the U.S. federal government to levy higher taxes on the wealthy.

In November 2017, he was among the more than 400 wealthy Americans that signed a letter asking the U.S. Congress to reject the Republican tax plan that would lower their taxes. This tax plan was part of the Republican Party’s now infamous Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017, which slashed taxes on the wealthy and business firms. That act has since become law.

“As you consider changes to the tax code, we urge you to oppose any legislation that further exacerbates inequality,” said a letter signed by billionaires and other wealthy Amercians who are in the top 5 percent by income or wealth.

The letter was a joint effort by United for a Fair Economy’s Responsible Wealth project and Voices for Progress. These are two national groups of wealthy individuals that advocate for progressive policies. Needless to say, the Republican-controlled Congress disregarded the letter and passed the bill.

The Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation estimated the tax cuts for lower- and middle-income earners will diminish over the course of a decade, far faster than it would for high-income taxpayers.

Branson’s comments highlight public discontent over increasing wealth inequality. Calls for higher taxes are louder and are being heard, as was seen at the recent World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland where there were lively discussions about income inequality and the role of the rich in propagating it.

"Capitalism basically is not working for the majority of people. That's just the reality," said hedge fund mogul Ray Dalio (worth $18 billion) during a discussion at Davos.

He pointed out "the top one-tenth of 1 percent of the population's net worth is equal to the bottom 90 percent combined. In other words, a big giant wealth gap." If he were president, he said, "I think that you have to call that a national emergency."

Sir Richard Branson receives his Star Sir Richard Branson attends his being honored with a Star on the Hollywood Walk in 2018. Photo: David Livingston/Getty Images

Ahead of Davos, which took place last month, Oxfam released a statement saying the massive wealth worldwide disparity is stoking public anger and threatening democracies. It pointed out the world’s 26 richest people now own the same wealth as the poorest half of humanity. Inequality is fast spinning out of control, said Oxfam.

Just one percent of the wealth of the world’s richest man, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, is equivalent to the entire health budget of Ethiopia, a country of 105 million people, according to Oxfam.