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ProPublica's bombshell tax investigation reportedly has lawmakers eyeing policy changes. One senator who designed a key corporation tax cut says it wasn't supposed to let 'multibillionaires' avoid tax.

Published by Business Insider on Thu, 10 Jun 2021


<p><img src="https://static6.businessinsider.com/image/60c1deda6d855e0018157421-2400/EW - Photo by Tom Williams-PoolGetty Images.jpg" border="0" alt="EW Photo by Tom Williams Pool:Getty Images" data-mce-source="Tom Williams Pool: Getty Images" data-mce-caption="Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed introducing a wealth tax."></p><p></p><bi-shortcode id="summary-shortcode" data-type="summary-shortcode" class="mceNonEditable" contenteditable="false">Summary List Placement</bi-shortcode><p>A <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/the-secret-irs-files-trove-of-never-before-seen-records-reveal-how-the-wealthiest-avoid-income-tax">ProPublica investigation</a> into the tax records of the richest people in the US, which showed that some avoided paying federal income tax even as their wealth grew, has renewed debate in Congress about tax reform, The New York Times reports.&nbsp;</p><p>The nonprofit news site ProPublica <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/the-secret-irs-files-trove-of-never-before-seen-records-reveal-how-the-wealthiest-avoid-income-tax" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="d0914df890e0d074418fdbf916bfc394">published a</a><a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/the-secret-irs-files-trove-of-never-before-seen-records-reveal-how-the-wealthiest-avoid-income-tax" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="d0914df890e0d074418fdbf916bfc394">&nbsp;report</a> on Tuesday showing how much the 25 richest Americansincluding <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-did-not-pay-income-taxes-2-years-report-2021-6" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="31e8032b129ac4f958b18985c6fb0340">Jeff Bezos</a>, <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-paid-little-in-taxes-2014-2018-propublica-report-2021-6" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="1f69ac803fc385c511723bd264a78a5c">Elon Musk</a>, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerbergpaid in tax. The report highlighted how <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/propublicas-billionaire-tax-data-america-close-step-up-charity-loopholes-2021-6" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="40" data-uri="869d667a12086ebcbf34317196197ec8">two key tax loopholes benefit billionaires</a>.</p><p>Some billionaires had slashed their tax bill via deductions made possible by tax cuts passed during the Trump administration, the ProPublica report said.</p><p>Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, of Pennsylvania, told <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2021/06/09/us/politics/propublica-taxes-jeff-bezos-elon-musk.html">The New York Times</a> that a 2017 corporation tax cut that he helped author was not intended to let the super-rich avoid paying taxes.</p><p>"My intention as the author of the 2017 tax reform was not that multibillionaires ought to pay no taxes," Toomey told the NYT. "I believe dividends and capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate, but certainly not zero."</p><p><em><strong>Read more: </strong><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/propublicas-billionaire-tax-data-america-close-step-up-charity-loopholes-2021-6" data-e2e-name="inline-read-more-link">ProPublica's billionaire tax data shows the importance of closing 2 key tax loopholes. Here's how.</a></em></p><p>ProPublica reported that&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/elon-musk-paid-little-in-taxes-2014-2018-propublica-report-2021-6" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="80" data-uri="1f69ac803fc385c511723bd264a78a5c">Musk's wealth grew by $14 billion</a>&nbsp;from 2014 to 2018, but that he only paid $455 million in taxes.&nbsp;<a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/jeff-bezos-did-not-pay-income-taxes-2-years-report-2021-6" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="80" data-uri="31e8032b129ac4f958b18985c6fb0340">Bezos did not pay any income taxes</a>&nbsp;for at least two years between 2006 and 2018, the report said.</p><p>Buffett paid minimal tax by holding Berkshire Hathaway stock and not paying a dividend, according to ProPublica's report. The&nbsp;<a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/warren-buffett-defends-propublica-tax-rate-berkshire-hathaway-stock-dvidends-2021-6-1030504042" data-analytics-module="body_link" data-analytics-post-depth="80" data-uri="6f68d941e36b0d17a5bc80d3bbc55a81">investor defended himself</a>&nbsp;in a statement to the news outlet, saying his shareholders didn't want a dividend and that he gave nearly all of his money to good causes.</p><p>A Republican-led Congress cut the <a href="https://markets.businessinsider.com/news/stocks/7-charts-showing-trump-tax-cuts-not-economic-rocket-fuel-2019-12-1028780773">corporation tax rate from 35% to 21%</a> in 2017 under former President Donald Trump, benefiting company shareholders.&nbsp;The 2017 <a href="https://www.investopedia.com/taxes/trumps-tax-reform-plan-explained/">Tax Cuts and Jobs Act</a>&nbsp;also reduced the tax rate&nbsp;for the top income bracket from 39.6% to 37%.&nbsp;</p><p>Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said he was <a href="https://www.propublica.org/article/propublicas-tax-revelations-lead-to-calls-for-reforms-and-investigation">considering new reforms</a> following the report, but did not share details.&nbsp;</p><p>Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren has pushed for a <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/wealth-tax-would-have-raised-114-billion-elizabeth-warren-2020-2021-3">wealth tax</a>a 2% tax on a person's net worth between $50 million and $1 billion. In March, Warren introduced an <a href="https://www.warren.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/Wealth%20Tax%20Bill%20Text.pdf">Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act</a> with Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania.&nbsp;</p><p>"Raising multibillionaires' income taxes isn't enough when these guys don't grow their fortunes from income," Warren <a href="https://twitter.com/SenWarren/status/1402772111270240256">tweeted</a> Wednesday. "We need a Wealth Tax in American to help fix a tax system that's rigged for the rich and powerful." &nbsp;</p><p><a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/propublica-tax-avoidance-bezos-musk-policy-patrick-toomey-2021-6#comments">Join the conversation about this story &#187;</a></p> <p>NOW WATCH: <a href="https://www.businessinsider.com/how-the-1999-russian-apartment-bombings-led-to-putins-rise-to-power-2018-3">How the 1999 Russian apartment bombings led to Putin's rise to power</a></p>
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