25 of the world’s richest Americans, including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk, paid very little, and sometimes nothing, in income taxes for almost four years between 2014 and 2018. According to a report from ProPublica that was based on a trove of Internal Revenue Service tax data. Pro Publica on the report says that they have “obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits.” From this analysis itself, it showed that America’s richest executives paid just a fraction of their wealth in taxes when their collective net worth kept increasing.
In the report, Pro Publica says that “In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes. Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row.”
According to the New York Times the simple answer to why they haven’t paid taxes is loopholes in the system: Much of the wealth that the rich have, like shares in companies they run, vacation homes, yachts and other investments, isn’t considered “taxable income” unless those assets are sold and a gain is realized. Even then, there are loopholes in the tax code that can limit or erase all tax liability.
New York Times also quoted US administration officials on Tuesday about federal authorities were investigating the disclosure of private tax information, which can constitute a criminal offence. “Any unauthorized disclosure of confidential information by a person with access is illegal,” Jen Psaki, the White House press secretary, said at a briefing. “We take this very seriously.”
While the allegation is being investigated, it is a grave one, and points out that some of the world’s richest people didn’t get there ‘fair and square’ and the inequality of the tax systems of America, and other countries in general, where the rich are taxed on income and not accumulated wealth.