Several of the world’s most prominent billionaires paid minimal to no federal income taxes in several years, ProPublica reported Tuesday, citing confidential data from the Internal Revenue Service it had reviewed.
The richest person in the world, Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com Inc., paid no federal income tax in 2007 and 2011. Tesla Inc. CEO Elon Musk managed to do the same in 2018. Bloomberg LP founder Michael Bloomberg and investors Carl Icahn and George Soros were also found to have paid minimal federal income tax in recent years.
Between 2014 and 2018, Warren Buffett’s net worth has reportedly increased by a whopping $24.3 billion and he reported paying $23.7 million in taxes, according to data reviewed by ProPublica, a “true tax rate” of 0.1%.
ProPublica says the data was provided to the news organization after it published a series of articles investigating the IRS. The news organization said it did not know the identity of the source and did not ask for the information sent to it.
IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig said during a Senate Finance Committee hearing on Tuesday that his agency is opening an investigation into the source of the information.
“I can confirm that the allegations are under investigation that the source of the information in that article came from the Internal Revenue Service,” Rettig said. “I share every American’s concern about the sensitive and personal nature and confidential nature of the information the IRS receives.”
ProPublica says it has contacted all individuals whose taxes it describes. Warren Buffett, Michael Bloomberg and Carl Icahn all told ProPublica that they had paid the taxes due.
Michael Bloomberg is the founder and majority shareholder of Bloomberg LP, the parent company of Bloomberg News.
Rettig said he could not comment directly on the article or on a person’s tax position. Federal employees can face jail time for inappropriately disclosing private taxpayer information.
Senate Finance Committee chairman Ron Wyden said at the hearing, “This morning there has been what appears to be a massive, unauthorized disclosure of tax information.” He said that, “given the IRS’s responsibility to protect taxpayer data, it has a responsibility to investigate the source of this disclosure.”
“The richest in this country, who have benefited immensely during the pandemic, have not paid their fair share,” Wyden said.
Mike Crapo, the top Republican on the Senate panel, said the ProPublica report is “highly relevant” to the Biden administration’s proposal to require financial institutions to report account flows to the IRS, highlighting privacy concerns.
(Except for the headline, this story has not been edited by NDTV staff and has been published from a syndicated feed.)