Our take: Data breach reveals rigged tax code in favor of the rich

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Internal Revenue Service data obtained by ProPublica and published last week shows in black and white how rigged the US tax code has become towards the wealthy.

The data, sent anonymously to the Independent Bureau of Investigation, shows that while their personal wealth grows by the billions, they pay very little in taxes – far less as a percentage than the average American trying to make ends meet with their paycheck.

We are not talking about tax evasion here. Instead, the richest Americans – whose obscene and unusable wealth grows daily – benefit from a tax system that taxes wages as income but not the rising value of stocks and real estate, which does not. are not taxed unless they are cashed.

So while most people pay the income tax rate on what they earn, the wealthier ones instead borrow their investments – making a lot of money without the tax consequences.

“We’re unevenly structured,” a former IRS official told The Washington Post. “The basic game if you are very rich is to hold a lot of wealth, let it grow in value, and generally to support your lifestyle you just need to borrow money. “

From 2014 to 2018, reports ProPublica, investor Warren Buffett paid $ 23.7 million in taxes on income of $ 125 million, for a tax rate of around 19%.

But during the same period, his fortune increased by $ 24.3 billion. With a “b”. That’s a 0.1% tax rate.

He was not the only one. Tesla founder Elon Musk paid $ 455 million in taxes over the same period as his wealth increased by $ 13.9 billion.

In 2018, Musk paid zero income tax dollars. Zero.

Financier George Soros has spent three consecutive years without paying income tax. Amazon boss Jeff Bezos didn’t pay a dime in tax either, in 2007 or 2011, when he said he lost so much money on investments that he claimed a credit from children’s tax of $ 4,000.

Next month, Bezos plans to fly to space.

Data obtained by ProPublica shows that the richest Americans pay very, very little of their personal wealth in taxes. It even shows that they pay less of their taxable income in income taxes than the average American.

And it doesn’t even begin to hit unreported income at all – costing tens of billions of dollars in tax revenue each year, and cleared by an IRS that hasn’t been given the resources needed to root out tax evaders.

These facts should be part of any conversation about how to pay to rebuild our country’s infrastructure and support its families through child care and home care. They should be brought up whenever anyone is wondering how we are going to tackle the huge challenges we face around climate change.

Meeting these challenges and making those investments is worth borrowing.

But money is being left on the table through an unfair wealth-oriented tax system. There is no way to deny it now.


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