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, one said Analysis of the news organization ProPublica That was based on a plethora of tax returns from the Internal Revenue Service.
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 their emphasis Taxation of labor income versus wealth.
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 businesses and the wealthy. 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 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 consider the idea to be feasible.
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 one separate note from the editorsThe outlet said it was “fairly selective and careful about publishing the information – because we believe it is fundamentally in the public interest and allowing readers to spot patterns that have previously been hidden”.
The report highlights the techniques the wealthy often use to slash their tax bills, including harnessing a complex web of loopholes and deductions that are perfectly legal and can significantly reduce or eliminate tax liability. 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. Buffett has long publicly said that tax law 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 the Internal Revenue Service did not comment immediately on the revelations Tuesday, but Charles Rettig, the I.R.S. Commissioner, due to testify to 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 have benefited immensely during the pandemic, haven’t paid 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 revelation raised concerns about a proposal by the Biden administration to the I.R.S. greater access to taxpayers’ financial information. He suggested that the agency could not be trusted to protect the data.
The president said on Twitter Tuesday that he will continue to work with Republicans on infrastructure and labor legislation and said he will 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.