“Secret IRS files” allegedly reveal how America’s wealthiest pay little to nothing in income taxes each year

On June 8th, ProPublica released a bombshell report allegedly revealing that the wealthiest of Americans—Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, and Elon Musk—have paid little to nothing in income taxes in recent years.

ProPublica claimed to obtain “secrete IRS files” on prominent wealthy figures in America through an anonymous source. According to ProPublica’s report, 25 of the wealthiest Americans saw a collective increase of wealth by $401 billion from 2014-2018 and have paid a total of $13.6 million in federal income taxes in the same years. Although that sounds like a staggering amount of money, the report makes clear that the sum only amounts to a tax rate of 3.4%. Compare that to the amount of taxes paid by middle-class Americans in those same years— “the median American household earned about $70,000 annually and paid 14% in federal taxes.

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The highest income tax rate, 37%, kicked in this year, for couples, on earnings above $628,300.” ProPublica points out that among the richest Americans, Warren Buffett has the lowest tax rate of 0.10%, even though his wealth grew about $24.3 billion from 2014-2018 as calculated by ProPublica. Jeff Bezos, founder of Amazon and the richest man in the world, saw his wealth grow by $99.0 billion in those same years, yet ProPublica points out that his tax rate comes out to only 0.98%.

The same holds true for the second richest man in the world, Elon Musk, who’s wealth increased by $13.9 billion but has a tax rate calculated at 3.27%. The report also acknowledged the years in which these prominent men paid nothing in federal incomes taxes. As reported in the article, in 2007 Bezos “did not pay a penny in federal income taxes,” Musk paid no federal income taxes in 2018, Soros avoided paying federal income taxes between 2016 and 2018, and Carl Icahn paid no federal income tax in 2016 and 2017.

ProPublica claims to have asked every person in the report for a comment and the only ones to comment have been Buffet, Bloomberg, and Icahn- in which they stated that they have paid the taxes they owed. ProPublica declared they will not be releasing any information about how they have obtained, what they call, the “secret IRS files.”



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