Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011. Tesla founder Elon Musk’s income tax bill came to zero in 2018. And financier George Soros went three straight years without paying federal income tax, according to a report from the nonprofit investigative journalism organization ProPublica. Overall, the richest 25 Americans pay less in tax — 15.8% of adjusted gross income — than many ordinary workers do, once you include taxes for Social Security and Medicare, ProPublica found.
An anonymous source delivered to ProPublica reams of Internal Revenue Service data on the country’s wealthiest people, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. ProPublica compared the tax data it received with information available from other sources. It reported that “in every instance we were able to check — involving tax filings by more than 50 separate people — the details provided to ProPublica matched the information from other sources.’’
Using perfectly legal tax strategies, many of the uber-rich are able to whittle their federal tax bills down to nothing or close to it. Soros went three straight years without paying federal income tax; billionaire investor Carl Icahn, two, ProPublica finds. The findings are sure to heighten the national debate over the vast and widening inequality between the very wealthiest Americans and everyone else. ProPublica reports that the tax bills of the rich are especially low when compared with their soaring wealth — the value of their investment portfolios, real estate and other assets.
The Biden administration said it is investigating how tax information from several of the world’s richest people — including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett — was leaked to the public. “The unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information is illegal,” said Treasury spokeswoman Lily Adams. “The matter is being referred to the Office of the Inspector General, Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and the US Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, all of whom have independent authority to investigate.”
The investigation comes after a report that showed new information from a trove of never-before-seen IRS records. Earlier Tuesday, ProPublica reported on exclusively obtained IRS documents which showed how the likes of Bezos, Musk, Buffett, Bill Gates, George Soros, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Bloomberg have legally avoided paying income tax.”Any unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information by a person of access is illegal and we take this very seriously,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during Tuesday’s briefing.
Psaki also reiterated the Biden administration’s stance on having wealthy Americans pay more taxes to fund the President’s proposals. “I’m not going to comment on specific unauthorized disclosures of confidential government information. I can tell you that, broadly speaking ,we know that there is more to be done to ensure that corporations, individuals who are at the highest income are paying more of their fair share. Hence, it’s in the President’s proposals, his budget and part of how he’s proposing to pay for his ideas,” Psaki said.