In the COVID-19 era, the already pervasive problem of income inequality became even more pressing as many Americans struggled to make ends meet while others easily weathered the pandemic from a position of pristine privilege. Now, as part of an ongoing project, a new investigation adds a few quirks to the larger discussion about wealth and the names so often associated with it in the press.
On Tuesday, ProPublica – a NYC-based nonprofit that focuses on investigative journalism in the public interest – reported it had received a “large stash” of IRS information showing billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and others “pay little income tax”. compared to their enormous wealth. ”In some cases, according to documents,“ paying little ”actually means paying nothing at all.
As Jesse Eisinger – a senior reporter and editor at ProPublica – stated in an NPR interview on Tuesday, this week’s story will be followed by more of its kind over the course of 2021. According to Eisinger, ProPublica has records on “thousands of the richest individuals” for over 15 years.
“It’s completely legal, and one of the points of the story is that you don’t need any exotic, illegal evasion techniques,” Eisinger told Rachel Martin in the Morning Edition. “This is not about tax evasion. It is about legal routine tax avoidance by regular means. … The system is designed in such a way that the ultra-rich can easily avoid taxation. “
Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch, Mark Zuckerberg, and others are also mentioned in the investigation report. Key findings reported by ProPublica include that the two richest people in the world (i.e. Bezos and Musk) both had years of not paying federal income tax, becoming a multi-billionaire and determining what the nonprofit calls the “true tax rate.” .
The “true tax rate” comes from a first analysis of its kind and comes from ProPublica’s study of the 25 richest Americans. The nonprofit compared how much these people’s wealth grew to the taxes they paid, and ultimately stated that from 2014 to 2018 they paid taxes equal to 3.4 percent of their wealth gain.
Asked by Martin on Tuesday to work out the effects of the results in the new ProPublica report, Eisinger gave his assessment of what he could signal to the average person.
“The consequences are that our federal budgets have been restricted for decades,” he said. “From time to time people fear that social security and medical care will go bankrupt. Our roads and bridges are crumbling. And we have a group of the richest individuals who are not paying their fair share. That should make everyone stop. “