Musk, Bezos, Soros … these billionaires evaded income tax for years

In the midst of the international debate on raising taxes for multinational companies, an investigation by the independent organization ProPublica came to affirm Tuesday, June 8 that several American billionaires had managed to completely evade income tax for several years.

According to this New York-based organization, which claims on its website that it wants “Denounce the abuse of power and the betrayal of public trust”, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos paid no federal taxes in 2007 and 2011, and Tesla head Elon Musk escaped it in 2018.

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It is not a question of fraud but of tax optimization which makes it possible to reduce the tax in a perfectly legal way, specifies ProPublica.

Thousands of tax returns studied

Businessmen Michael Bloomberg and Carl Icahn as well as philanthropist George Soros have also managed to pay no federal taxes in some years, the report continues.

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To reach these conclusions, the organization claims to have got its hands on thousands of tax returns from wealthy Americans to the IRS, over more than fifteen years.

“Put end to end, they demolish the foundations of the American tax myth: that everyone pays their fair share and that the richest pay most”, write the authors.

ProPublica claims, for example, that Jeff Bezos applied for and succeeded in obtaining a tax credit of $ 4,000 for his children in 2011, a year in which he reported in his tax return investment losses greater than his annual income. .

Jeff Bezos, however, showed in April his support for the tax hike desired by US President Joe Biden to finance his infrastructure investment plan.

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“The richest people in the country, who made huge profits during the pandemic, have not paid their fair share” Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden reacted on Tuesday, saying he would do ” a proposal “ in this sense.

0.1% tax rate for Warren Buffett

These revelations are all the crazier since, according to “Forbes”, the 25 super-rich on which ProPublica worked saw their fortunes increase by 401 billion dollars between 2014 and 2018. To finally donate only 13.6 billion in the tax department, or, according to the organization’s calculations, a tax rate of only 3.4%. But there is no wealth tax in the United States, and capital gains are not taxed as long as they remain unrealized.

Questioned by AFP, the teams of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn and George Soros did not react immediately.

Responding to ProPublica, a spokesperson for George Soros cited losses on investments between 2016 and 2018 to justify the lack of federal tax. Michael Bloomberg and Carl Icahn also said they had paid the taxes they had to pay.

“A disproportionate share of growth is captured by the richest”

ProPublica also developed in its survey a “Effective tax rate”, namely the tax rate paid by each billionaire in comparison with the progression of his wealth, the official tax rate not being measured in this way.

The result is a derisory level, at 0.1% for example for Warren Buffett between 2014 and 2018, against the backdrop of an explosion in his wealth thanks to the rise in stock prices.

The US Treasury Department said the disclosure of these private documents was illegal, and that it was investigating, along with other authorities, the leaks.

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