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ProPublica Reveals 25 Wealthiest Americans Avoided Income Tax At Certain Periods of Time

Billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, and Warren Buffett have managed to avoid paying federal income taxes at one time or another, according to a report from ProPublica.

Bezos, founder of Amazon, did not pay income tax in 2007. He avoided paying income tax again in 2011, as ProPublica reports.

Tesla founder Elon Musk achieved the same feat in 2018. Michael Bloomberg accomplished the same thing in recent years. George Soros managed to go without paying income tax three years in a row.

“Taken together, it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most,” the report reads.

It continues, “The IRS records show that the wealthiest can — perfectly legally — pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year.”

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The nonprofit investigative journalism organization obtained Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data on tax returns of the nation’s wealthiest people spanning more than 15 years.

The data examines the financial business of the wealthy, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. 

ProPublica cited data from Forbes showing 25 richest Americans saw their worth increase collectively to $401 billion from 2014 to 2018.

According to the IRS data, they paid a total of $13.6 billion in federal income taxes over the course of those years. The tax rate sums up to only 3.4%.

A spokesman for Soros said in a statement, “Between 2016 and 2018 George Soros lost money on his investments, therefore he did not owe federal income taxes in those years. Mr. Soros has long supported higher taxes for wealthy Americans.”

The 25 richest Americans were worth $1.1 trillion by the end of 2018. In 2018, they received a federal tax bill of $1.9 billion.

A spokesman for Bloomberg said in a statement, “Mike Bloomberg pays the maximum tax rate on all federal, state, local and international taxable income as prescribed by law.” The spokesman also noted that “taken together, what Mike gives to charity and pays in taxes amounts to approximately 75% of his annual income.”

The statement adds, “The release of a private citizen’s tax returns should raise real privacy concerns regardless of political affiliation or views on tax policy. In the United States no private citizen should fear the illegal release of their taxes. We intend to use all legal means at our disposal to determine which individual or government entity leaked these and ensure that they are held responsible.”

ProPublica’s Jesse Eisinger co-wrote the article and expanded on the report during an interview with CBS News.

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“The ultra-wealthy are completely out of the system. Most of us have salaries and the taxes get extracted out of the salaries. We are in the American tax system. But the way the super-wealthy work … they are outside of this system,” Eisinger explained.

Watch his interview below:

He continued, “So their wealth builds up and it’s untaxed … it’s only taxed when they sell and they often don’t sell. They borrow to fund their lifestyles.”

Eisinger claimed the “whole world of their wealth” goes “untouched by the tax system.”

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