Several American billionaires, including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, have managed to completely evade income tax for several years, according to an investigation by the independent organization ProPublica, published on Tuesday, in the midst of the international debate on tax hikes for multinational companies.
This organization, based in New York which claims on its website that it wants to “denounce the abuse of power and betrayal of public trust,” says Amazon boss Jeff Bezos did not pay any federal taxes in 2007 and 2011 , and Elon Musk, head of Tesla, escaped in 2018.
Billionaires “haven’t paid their fair share”
Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk are on the podium of the three richest men in the world. 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. 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. 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 requested 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. “The richest people in the country, who made huge profits during the pandemic, have not paid their fair share,” said Democratic Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee Ron Wyden on Tuesday, saying he would do so. “A proposal” in this sense.
A 0.10% tax for Warren Buffet
When questioned, the teams of Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn and George Soros did not react immediately. Responding to ProPublica, a spokesperson for Georges Soros referred to losses on investments between 2016 and 2018 to justify the absence of federal tax. Michael Bloomberg and Icahn also said they had paid the taxes they had to pay.
ProPublica also developed in its survey a “true tax rate”, namely the tax rate paid by each billionaire in comparison with the increase in his wealth, the official tax rate not being measured by this. way. The result is a derisory level, at 0.10% 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.