The scandal of the tax-free US billionaires

Drew Angerer via Getty Images

WASHINGTON, DC – MAY 17: A mobile billboard calling for higher taxes on the ultra-wealthy depicts an image of billionaire businessman Elon Musk, near the U.S. Capitol on May 17, 2021 in Washington, DC. Organized by the group “Patriotic Millionaires,” the mobile billboards are rolling through Washington, DC and New York City on Monday to mark Tax Day, calling for higher taxes for wealthy Americans. (Photo by Drew Angerer/Getty Images)

There is no need to be on the left to be scandalized by the sensational scoop of the US site ProPublica.

The 25 Richest Men in America (and the World) Pay Little or No Income Tax: Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Mark Zuckerberg (Facebook, Instagram, Whatsapp), Elon Musk (Tesla), Bill Gates (Microsoft), Michael Bloomberg, Rupert Murdoch, George Soros, Warren Buffett and others paid $ 13 billion in federal personal income tax in 2014-2018 on a total income of $ 400 billion. Their rate, therefore, is just over 3%.

But thanks to a wise and legal tax avoidance, some of the very rich have even dropped to zero. Like Musk, the second richest person in the world, who didn’t pay a cent in 2018. Buffett paid 0.1% of the 24 billion growth in his wealth in the five years examined: 23 million. Bezos’ tax rate was 1%, Bloomberg’s rate of 1.3%, for three years Soros managed to stay at zero.

How is it possible? The maximum rate of income tax in the US is 37%. The average American family pays 14% federal tax on a $ 70,000 income. But billionaires declare a tiny fraction of their annual income over their assets (mostly stocks) that can’t be taxed until it’s liquidated. And most importantly, they benefit from billions in deductions: they offload virtually all expenses, from private planes to palaces and villas, to charitable foundations and funding for museums. In 2011, for example, Bezos’ wealth increased by 18 billion, but he declared a budget in the red, denouncing investment losses. So he managed to get even $ 4,000 in family allowances for his children.

It is clear that the system cannot continue like this. President Biden announces a reform of tax laws. But the ProPublica site is pessimistic: “There is no need to increase the maximum rates, if the jungle of deductions and trusts in the Caribbean is not cleared”.

It has long been known about the astronomical inequalities that have plagued the United States of recent decades. Compared to today’s billionaires, the Rockefellers, Carnegie and Vanderbilt were poor men a century ago. In 2011 Buffett asked Obama to pay more taxes: “I made three billion, you only asked me for seven million”.

But only now, with the documents of the IRS (Internal Revenue Service, our Revenue Agency) published by ProPublica in defiance of the privacy of the very rich, there are shocking figures to substantiate generic complaints.

Particularly annoying is the claim of the Scrooge to pretend to be philanthropists as well. The veil lifted on the Gates foundation by the divorce between Bill and Melinda begins to reveal deplorable aspects.

In New York and other American metropolises, a real industry of “charity galas” has developed, fundraising parties for the most disparate good causes with which the rich wash their conscience. And with which the tax deductions increase to earn even more.

According to Forbes, in the sixteen months of the Covid epidemic, as hundreds of thousands of Americans died and millions lost their jobs, US billionaires amassed another 1.2 trillion in earnings. Inconceivable, for an empire born 245 years ago and raised thanks to two words: freedom, but also equality.


Source: Huffington Post Italy Athena2 by www.huffingtonpost.it.

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