Wealthy Individuals Like Bezos, Musk, Buffett Prevented Revenue Tax

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WASHINGTON – The 25 richest Americans, including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk, paid relatively little – and sometimes nothing – in federal income taxes between 2014 and 2018, according to an analysis by the news organization ProPublica, which serves tax returns based on a fund of Internal Revenue .

The analysis showed that the nation’s richest executives paid only a fraction of their wealth in taxes – $ 13.6 billion in federal income taxes on $ 401 billion of their wealth.

The documents reveal the blatant injustice in the American tax system, as plutocrats like Warren Buffett, Jeffrey Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk have benefited from a complex web of loopholes in tax law and the fact that the United States has put its emphasis on the taxation of labor income over that Capital.

The rare window into the tactics of the country’s top billionaires comes when President Biden attempts to revise the tax law to increase taxes on corporations and the rich. Mr. Biden has proposed raising the top tax rate from 37 percent to 39.6 percent.

But the documents and conclusions of the analysis could renew the demands on Mr. Biden to consider a property tax advocated by Senator Elizabeth Warren, Democrat of Massachusetts. Ms. Warren’s plan would impose a 2 percent tax on a person’s net worth – including the value of stocks, houses, boats, and everything else a person owns, after deducting all debt – over $ 50 million.

Mr Biden and his advisors did not think the idea could be implemented.

Ms. Warren said on Twitter that the report shows that “our tax system has been rigged for billionaires who don’t make their fortune from income the way working families do.”

ProPublica did not disclose how it obtained the information, and the New York Times could not independently verify it. However, the publication states that the documents were provided to the point of sale “in raw form, with no conditions or conclusions” and that the information was passed on to any manager whose information was included in the article.

“Anyone whose tax information is described in this story was asked to comment,” ProPublica said, adding that those who responded “all said they paid the taxes they owed”.

In a separate editor’s note, the outlet said it published the information “fairly selectively and carefully – because we believe it serves the public interest in a fundamental manner and enables readers to see patterns that have previously been hidden”.

The report highlights the techniques the wealthy often use to lower their tax debt, including harnessing a complex web of loopholes and deductions that are perfectly legal and can significantly reduce or eliminate tax debt. This also includes borrowing huge sums of money backed by enormous stocks of stocks. These loans are not taxed, and the interest the executives pay on the money can often be deducted from their tax bills.

In 2007, Mr. Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, paid no federal income tax even when his company’s share price doubled. Four years later, when his net worth grew to $ 18 billion, Mr. Bezos reported losses and received a tax credit of $ 4,000 for his children, according to ProPublica.

One example ProPublica discovered was Mr. Buffett, the chairman of the Berkshire Hathaway board of directors. Mr Buffett has long publicly said that tax laws should hit the rich harder, but he paid just $ 23.7 million in taxes from 2014 to 2018, when his net worth rose by $ 24.3 billion.

The Treasury Department and Internal Revenue Service did not comment immediately on the revelations Tuesday, but Charles Rettig, the IRS commissioner, was due to testify before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday morning.

At the hearing, Mr. Rettig said that he could not comment on the apparent violation at his authority, but said that he was being examined.

“I can confirm that there is an investigation into the allegations that the source of the information in this article was from the Internal Revenue Service,” said Rettig. “The investigators will investigate.”

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the finance committee, told Mr. Rettig that he was concerned about the security of taxpayer data. He also stressed that the disclosures make it clear that the tax code needs to be rewritten.

“These data show that the richest in the country, who benefited immensely during the pandemic, didn’t pay their fair share,” said Wyden, adding that he had suggestions to address this inequality.

Senator Mike Crapo of Idaho, the top Republican on the committee, said the revelations had increased his concern over a proposal by the Biden administration to allow the IRS more access to taxpayers’ financial information. He suggested that the agency could not be trusted to protect the data.

The president said on Twitter Tuesday he was continuing to work with Republicans on infrastructure and labor legislation and said he would not request a tax hike for anyone making less than $ 400,000.

“It is long time the rich and corporations paid their fair share,” said Biden.