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  • Ryan Wittler

ProPublica Released a “Trove” of IRS Files Showing How the Wealthiest Americans Avoid Income Taxes

Associated Press

ProPublica compared how much the 25 richest Americans paid in federal income taxes from 2014 to 2018, to how much Forbes saw their wealth increase during that time. Those Americans saw their collective wealth increase by $401 billion over those five years, and paid only $13.6 billion in federal income taxes. Amounting to what ProPublica calls their “true tax rate” of only 3.4%. During that same period, middle-class Americans in their early 40s with a typical amount of wealth saw their net worths increase by about $65,000, but because a bulk of those earnings were salaries instead of, e.g., capital gains, their tax bills increased by nearly $62,000. An elite club: Several U.S. billionaires have had years where they paid zero dollars in federal income tax, despite seeing their wealth grow dramatically. In 2007, Jeff Bezos, already a multibillionaire, paid zero dollars in federal income tax, offsetting his income by investment losses and deductions. In 2011, his income was more than offset by investment losses, actually allowing him to claim and receive a $4,000 child tax credit, as well. Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn, and George Soros all also had years where they paid zero dollars in federal income taxes, according to the report. Warren Buffet avoided the most taxes. Using ProPublica’s “true tax rate” from 2014 to 2018, Buffet only paid a rate of 0.1% of the $24.3 billion he made, or about 10 cents for every $100 he added to his wealth. ProPublica said it obtained the information from an anonymous source it does not know the identity of, and that it didn’t solicit the information. Read the whole report here.

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