US authorities are investigating the “illegal” loss of billionaires’ tax information, including data on Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett
The US government is investigating how tax information about the richest Americans leaked to the public.
ProPublica covered the income and tax payments made by Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and other billionaires.
The White House called the leakage of tax information “illegal”.
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The US government is investigating how some of the richest Americans, including Amazon boss Jeff Bezos and Tesla boss Elon Musk, published their tax information online.
Nonprofit news site ProPublica released a report Tuesday showing how much the 25 richest Americans – including Bezos, Musk, Warren Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway CEO, Microsoft founder Bill Gates and Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg – paid in taxes. The report highlighted how billionaires are benefiting from two major tax loopholes.
“I share the concern of every American about the sensitive and private nature and confidentiality of the information the IRS receives,” said IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig at a Senate Finance Committee hearing. The hearing was scheduled before the report was published.
“Trust and trust in the Internal Revenue Service is kind of the foundation for asking people and asking them to provide financial information,” said Rettig.
Treasury Department spokeswoman Lily Adams said “the unauthorized disclosure of confidential government information is illegal”.
“The matter is referred to the Office of the General Inspector General, Treasury General Inspector General for Tax Administration, Federal Bureau of Investigation and the District of Columbia District Attorney, all of whom have independent investigative powers,” Adams said in a statement shared with insider.
ProPublica reported that Musk’s net worth grew by $ 14 billion from 2014 to 2018, but he only paid $ 455 million in taxes. Bezos paid no income tax for at least two years between 2006 and 2018, the report said.
Buffett paid minimal taxes by holding shares in Berkshire Hathaway and not paying dividends, according to the ProPublica report. The investor defended himself in a statement to the news agency, saying his shareholders did not want a dividend and that he had used almost all of his money for good causes.
Insider has approached ProPublica, the IRS, and the White House for comment.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters during Tuesday’s briefing that the Biden administration was taking “illegal” tax information leaks “very seriously.”
“We know more needs to be done to ensure that companies, the highest income individuals, are paying more of their fair share,” said Psaki, adding that this is part of President Joe Biden’s budget and proposals .
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