Did you know that some of the world’s wealthiest persons like Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffet, and Elon Musk do not pay any income tax? Strange it might sound, but some of these billionaires add more to their wealth by avoiding paying income tax. Citing an investigation by ProPublica, Paul Haarman confirms that the mercurial Elon Musk did not pay any income tax in 2018. Over the last two decades, many wealthy persons managed to do without paying income tax.
Not a new trend
During the investigation, ProPublica accessed IRS documents for the last 15 years shows the paltry sum paid for income tax by some of today’s billionaires like Amazon owner Jeff Bezos, Tesla founder Elon Musk and the famous investor Warren Buffet. The trend started in the new millennium, as evident from the startling revelation in the report about Jeff Bezos not even paying a penny toward income tax in 2007. Interestingly, Bezos was already a multi-billionaire at that time.
The list grows longer
As stated earlier, Elon Musk emulated Bezos’ feat in 2018, and another big fish that could manage to avoid paying income tax in recent years was Michael Bloomberg, former mayor of New York City. According to Paul Haarman, it goes on record that the celebrated hedge fund manager Carl Icahn who is also an activist investor did not pay income tax two times. Another billionaire hedge fund manager George Soros did a hat trick by not paying income tax for 3 consecutive years.
The investigation report of ProPublica throws light on the financial lives of some of the wealthiest Americans, like Microsoft founder and philanthropist Bill Gates, as well as Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook CEO. The tax returns show their total income and the income tax paid as well as their investments, stock trade, audit results and winnings from gambling.
Paying lesser tax
The report exposes the fact that the billionaires named here and many others defied the claim made by the American administration that the maximum taxes come from the wealthiest people. Moreover, by gleaning the IRS records, it becomes clear that the income tax paid by the billionaires is just a tiny fraction of the enormous wealth they amassed over the years, which keeps increasing every year.
The ProPublica bares the fact that most of the Americans live paycheck to paycheck while paying a portion of their income to the Federal government. In recent years, the median American household income is around $70,000 per year, for which they pay an average of 14% toward income tax. Americans who earn more than $628,300 per year need to pay 37% as income tax.
Forbes reported that between 2014 and 2018, the total net worth increase of the 25 wealthiest Americans was $401 billion. They paid$13.6 billion toward federal income taxes in those 5 years, translating into a tax rate of 3.4% only.
The billionaires are able to escape by paying lesser income tax as they can access specific tax avoidance strategies that are out of reach for the public at large.