In 2007 and 2011, the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, currently the richest man in the world, hasn’t paid a single penny in taxes. The same thing happened, in 2018, to the founder of Tesla, Elon Musk, in second place in the ranking of the richest men in the world. A privilege shared for years by other multi-billionaires, such as Michael Bloomberg e George Soros.
To discover, analyze and explain how the richest men in America managed to legally pay “ridiculous” taxes and in some cases avoid them altogether, is an investigation by ProPublica, already a Pulitzer-winning newspaper, the most prestigious America, thanks to a file from the US government’s Internal Revenue Service (IRS). The secret file allows for the first time to sift through 15 years of the financial life of the American multi-billion dollar giants, including Warren Buffet, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch e Mark Zuckerberg.
From the giants of the web only 42 million in taxes to the Italian tax authorities
Overall “The Secret IRS Files“They constitute a severe blow to the myth of the American tax system, according to which everyone pays for what they earn and the richest, of course, would pay more. Data in hand, that’s not the case. The IRS documents, analyzed by ProPublica reporters , Jesse Eisinger, Jeff Ernsthausen e Paul Kiel, prove the opposite: the richest manage – in a perfectly legal way – to pay taxes in an infinitesimally small percentage compared to the hundreds of millions, if not billions, of their personal fortunes that grow more each year. And in any case, taxes much lower than the percentages that every American sees himself subtracted from his paycheck every month.
While an average household that earns about $ 70,000 a year has a federal tax rate of 14%, which rises to 37% for those earning over $ 600,000, the IRS’s “Secret Files” show that the ultra-wealthy manage evade this system. How? Their wealth derives mainly from their assets, such as stocks and property, gains that are not taxable under American law until they are sold. In addition, many of the billionaires on the list manage to offset every penny they earn with “collateral losses”, investments, and various deductions, such as debt interest charges and other “general expenses”. Then there are other “tricks” that emerge from the report, such as the fact that people like the founder of Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, can choose to be paid only a dollar of salary, being able to count on other forms of earnings.
ProPublica reporters compared the taxes paid each year by America’s 25 richest men with the growth in their wealth estimated by Forbes during the same period. The results are impressive: between 2014 and 2018, the wealth of these characters collectively grew by $ 401 billion. Well, in the same period they paid 13.6 billion in federal taxes, all together. A paltry 3.4% of what they have accumulated, which makes the American middle class shudder, struggling between 14% and the maximum rate of 37% provided for the wealthiest. It is difficult to explain and understand how the richest people in the world can get by with such low taxes to those who see part of their earnings directly from their paychecks every month.
According to Forbes, for example, Warren Buffet, between 2014 and 2018 saw his wealth rise by 24.3 billion dollars, but the files revealed by ProPublica show that in those same years he paid taxes of 23.7 million dollars: 0 , 1%, less than 10 cents for every $ 100 he was able to add to his wealth.
Between 2006 and 2018, according to Forbes, Jeff Bezos increased his wealth by $ 127 billion, but declared a total income of $ 6.5 billion by paying 1.4 billion in taxes, which is an absolute high number, but only represents the ‘1.1% of the actual growth of his fortune.
Inequality and the redistribution of wealth are some of the key points of our era, which sees the rich get richer and the middle classes slide further and further into poverty. The ProPublica investigation, and new episodes are already announced, is destined to cause a sensation, especially at a time when the president Joe Biden and the US Congress are discussing an ambitious tax hike for the American people, bringing the highest rate to 39.6% from the current 37%. Also because, if things stay this way, little or nothing will change for the super rich.
In the in-depth and detailed investigation, ProPublica journalists do not reveal how they managed to obtain the IRS data – the American authorities have opened an investigation on the case – but explain how it took months to process and analyze the material to transform it into a database. usable and to verify the information thus obtained. Now the emerging scenario casts many shadows on the inequity of the US-made tax system.