In the midst of the international debate on the corporate tax hike, an investigation by the independent organization ProPublica stated on Tuesday that several millionaires in the United States managed to completely get rid of income taxes for several years.
According to this New York-based organization that claims on its website that it seeks to “denounce abuses of power and betrayal of the public’s trust,” Amazon founder Jeff Bezos did not pay any federal taxes between 2007 and 2011, and Elon Musk, the creator of Tesla, got rid of that burden in 2018. Both top the lists of richest people in the world. Entrepreneurs Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn, and investor George Soros also managed to avoid paying federal taxes in a few years, according to ProPublica.
To reach these conclusions, the organization claims that it accessed thousands of tax returns from wealthy Americans to the IRS, spanning a period of more than 15 years.
The data “demolishes the foundations of the American tax myth: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest pay the most,” the authors note.
“The richest people in the country, who made huge profits during the pandemic, did not pay their fair share,” reacted on Tuesday the Democratic chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, Ron Wyden. When questioned by AFP, the teams of Bezos, Musk, Bloomberg, Icahn and Soros have not yet responded.
But in response to ProPublica, a Soros spokesperson evoked investment losses from 2016 to 2018 to justify the absence of federal taxes. ProPublica also developed a “true tax rate” that measures the tax burden paid by each millionaire compared to the growth of their wealth. The relationship shows, for example, that the investor Warren Buffet, paid 0.10% between 2014 and 2018.