The Secret IRS Files: How Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk And Other Of The World's Wealthiest Avoid Taxes

News & Politics
Gettyimages | David Ryder

Damir Mujezinovic

ProPublica, a non-profit organization focused on investigative journalism, has obtained a "vast cache of IRS information" that shows billionaires in the United States pay little to no income taxes.

This data proves that the richest men in the world -- including Amazon founder Jeff Bezos, business magnate Elon Musk and former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg -- have avoided paying taxes for years, without breaking the law.

The damning documents demolish "the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most."

The Two Richest Men In The World Had Years Where They Paid No Income Taxes

Gettyimages | Pool

Bezos, who is the richest man in the world, paid no income taxes in 2007 and 2011. Musk, the second richest man on the planet, got away with paying nothing in 2018.

Investor Carl Icahn paid no federal income taxes in 2016 and 2017.

Bloomberg, who ran for president in 2020, had a true tax rate of 1.3 percent between 2014 and 2018. The billionaire managed to slash his bills largely thanks to former President Donald Trump's tax cuts for the wealthy.

Billionaire liberal philanthropist George Soros, meanwhile, paid no federal income tax three years in a row.

Even Years With Large Income Tax Payments Are Miniscule in Comparison To The Average American

Gettyimages | Mark Wilson

Most Americans dutifully pay their taxes and many struggle to make ends meet, living form paycheck to paycheck. 

In fact, as CNBC reported, data shows that fewer than 4 in 10 Americans have enough savings to pay for an unexpected $1,000 emergency expense.

The ultra-wealthy live in an entirely different world. 

Over the last decade, a typical American household paid more in taxes than it accumulated in wealth. Bezos and other billionaires' wealth has steadily grown, but they have paid only a tiny fraction of it in taxes.

In 2018, for example, the 25 richest men in the U.S. paid $1.9 billion in income taxes, while wage earners paid $143 billion.

These Tax Avoidance Efforts Are Typically Legal, Keep Reading To Find Out Why

Most billionaires who don't pay taxes aren't breaking the law. In fact, what they are doing is perfectly legal.

As CEO of Amazon, Bezos makes around $80,000 a year. Facebook CEO and co-founder Mark Zuckerberg, Oracle’s Larry Ellison and Google’s Larry Page make only $1 in salary.

Almost every dollar an American earns is considered "income" by the federal government, but this does not concern the ultra-rich.

In 2018, the top 25 wealthiest Americans reported $158 million in wages -- only 1.1 percent of their total income. They made the bulk of their money from dividends, stocks and other investments.

The Revelation Is Making Waves Online, See Reactions Below

ProPublica's revelations are making waves online, with commentators, analysts and activists noting that ordinary Americans continue to suffer as the rich get richer.

"This is why your loved ones can’t have healthcare, why their lives are shortened, why schools are going without and your towns and roads are crumbling. This system is wired, explicitly and tirelessly, to enrich the wealthy at your expense," analyst Jared Yates Sexton wrote in a tweet.

"This story will influence the debate over inequality for years," New York Times reported Peter Eavis tweeted.