Elon Musk, the second richest man in the world, paid exactly $ 0 in federal income tax in 2018, according to a new explosive report from ProPublica. And Musk is not the only one.
ProPublica has received top-secret tax information on everyone from Amazon founder Jeff Bezos to mega-investor Warren Buffett in a way the investigative news agency did not disclose. And ProPublica promises to spend next month researching the intimate tax avoidance schemes of America’s richest people.
ProPublica has already given us a taste of the strange tax returns with today’s report. Take Jeff Bezos, for example. Amazon’s CEO reported $ 46 million in revenue in 2007, but paid nothing in federal taxes this year. How According to ProPublica, Bezos “compensates every penny he has earned with losses from side investments and various deductions, such as interest expenses on debts and an unclear category of” other expenses “.
Did you make money in 2007? If you do, you’ve almost certainly paid more federal income taxes than the richest man on the planet. And it gets worse.
Its tax avoidance is even more striking if you look at 2006 to 2018, a period for which ProPublica has complete data. Bezos’ fortune has increased by $ 127 billion, according to Forbes, but it accounts for a total of $ 6.5 billion in revenue. The $ 1.4 billion he paid in personal federal taxes is huge, but it still stands at 1.1% real tax rate as his fortune grows.
Or what about Elon Musk? The picture is just as depressing.
Except for one year, when he held more than a billion dollars in shares, Musk’s tax accounts do not in any way reflect the wealth he has. In 2015, he paid $ 68,000 in federal income tax. In 2017, that was $ 65,000, and in 2018, he did not pay federal income tax. Between 2014 and 2018, it had a real tax rate of 3.27%.
Musk is also a beneficiary of huge government orders for his company SpaceX, something that makes tax avoidance really feel like a double dip in the public coffers.
You can read the full ProPublica report on it websitewhere you can learn why some top managers take disgracefully low salaries. For example, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg takes only $ 1 each year. Why? Wages are taxed at a high rate, while the sale of shares and bonds is taxed much lower.
There must be an important discussion about raising the marginal tax rate for the richest Americans. But there needs to be a serious national conversation about how to make sure people like Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos and Warren Buffett pay their fair share.
Is the decision in the property tax, as Senator Elizabeth Warren suggested? This can help. But whatever goes through must be a major overhaul that prevents the richest from getting away without paying anything in federal taxes. It is obviously a crime for billionaires to even exist in a civilized society, because there are simply not enough hours a day to justify the accumulation of so much wealth.
If billionaires are allowed to exist, they can at least pay a tax rate comparable to the average American who can’t get away with shady tax avoidance schemes. This is literally the least we can do.