The publication by ProPublica of data on the amount of income taxes paid by American billionaires led to calls for a wealth tax and was the subject of an investigation by the IRS.
As the portal known for its investigative journalism said on Tuesday, the income tax paid in 2014-2018 by the richest American billionaires, including the CEO of the American company Amazon Jeff Bezos, the head of Tesla and SpaceX Elon Musk and the head of the investment fund Berkshire Hathaway Warren Buffett, is no more than a few percent of the growth of their wealth in general.
Musk’s fortune, for example, increased by $ 13.9 billion over the five years, while he reported $ 1.52 billion in revenue, on which he paid $ 455 million in taxes. Thus, in fact, Musk paid 3.27% tax on the amount by which his fortune grew. An even smaller share was transferred to the federal budget by the richest man in the world, Bezos. With a rise in his fortune of $ 99 billion, he reported income of $ 4.22 billion, paying $ 973 million in taxes (0.98% of the amount by which his fortune increased).
A kind of record for the minimum “tax rate” was set by 90-year-old Warren Buffett. His fortune grew by $ 24.3 billion, while he reported $ 125 million in income and paid $ 23.7 million in taxes (0.1% of the amount by which his fortune grew).
Everything is legal
The billionaires acted entirely by law, paying income tax on their income at a rate that could be as high as 39.6%. The main part of their wealth is investments in securities, ownership of shares in companies, real estate. The growth of the wealth of the richest Americans was primarily due to this and was not taxed – income tax is not paid on such assets until the owner sells them.
While similar rules apply to other Americans, they do not have such a favorable growth-to-tax ratio. The average American household “got rich” in 2014-2018 by about $ 65 thousand, mainly due to the increase in the value of houses, while the total amount of income taxes paid for this period for him amounted to 62 thousand. Dollars.
Biggest Tax History of the Year
Although from the point of view of the law there are no complaints against billionaires, the publication of data on taxes paid by them caused a significant public outcry. ProPublica has been commented on by some of the leading American media outlets, such as The New York TImes and CBS. The question was posed to IRS spokesman Charles Rettig at a Senate hearing on the same day. He said that the department will investigate how ProPublica journalists got the tax reporting documents of the richest Americans.
UC Berkeley economist Gabriel Zuckman tweeted the ProPublica publication as “the biggest tax story of the year, if not decades.” “It has always been clear from open sources that billionaires do not pay very much. But even I was surprised at the actual amount of their taxes, ”he added.
Senator Elizabeth Warren, who had previously advocated taxing large fortunes rather than income, re-emphasized the need to return to this topic. “Our tax system is tailored for billionaires who do not get their fortunes through income from work, like most families. The evidence is more than enough – it is time to introduce a wealth tax to force billionaires to contribute honestly, ”she tweeted.
Russian news agency TASS