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US investigates leaked records showing billionaires pay little in taxes


The US tax authorities have launched an investigation into the leakage of private records of billionaires, including Warren Buffett, Jeff Bezos, Mike Bloomberg and Elon Musk, which showed that many of them paid little tax Even as their wealth swelled.

ProPublica published It details what he called a “huge set of Internal Revenue Service data” covering more than 15 years of tax returns from thousands of the wealthiest Americans. The non-profit investigative press agency did not reveal the source of the leak.

Its report concluded that legal tax evasion strategies allowed the 25 richest Americans to pay just $13.6 billion in federal income taxes in the five years through 2018, even as the value of their stock, property and other assets ballooned their collective wealth by $401 billion.

Charles Rittig, tax authority The commissioner, told a Senate Finance Committee hearing, that the agency had opened an investigation to uncover the source of the leak. He said he shared “every American’s concerns” about revealing sensitive classified information.

Bloomberg, the former New York mayor and US presidential candidate, has vowed to use “all legal means” to uncover the source of the leak. The founder of the financial information group of the same name rejected the article’s hypothesis, saying that he “strictly adheres to the letter and spirit of the law” and distributes about three-quarters of his annual income in the form of taxes and charitable giving.

“The release of a private citizen’s tax returns should raise genuine privacy concerns regardless of political affiliation or opinions about tax policy,” he said in a statement.

The leak comes as some Democrats do call for tax on the total wealth of the richest Americans, rather than on annual income that can be offset by deductions, borrowing, and investment losses.

Elizabeth Warren, a US senator from Massachusetts, introduced legislation this spring to apply a 2 percent tax to individuals with a net worth of more than $50 million, with an additional 1 percent charge on any wealth over $1 billion. President Joe Biden has Suggested increases In the capital gains tax rate and dividends for those who earned more than $1 million but did not support a wealth tax.

Warren took advantage of the ProPublica report, writing on Twitter that it showed it was time “to finally get the super-rich to pay their fair share.”

Maurice Perle, head of a group of wealthy campaigners for higher taxes on the wealthy called Patriotic Millionaires, said the report bolstered his argument that the richest Americans “essentially can choose to pay taxes or not.”

He said the wealth taxes and higher taxes on unrealized capital gains his group advocated were “marginal ideas” when they were launched in 2010, but sentiment has changed and ProPublica disclosures could boost support even more.

Bloomberg and Buffett have been among the billionaires who have called for higher taxes on the richest Americans for several years, but the economic divisions exposed by the pandemic have increased political risks.

ProPublica said it decided to reveal the details “because only by seeing the details can the public understand the realities of the country’s tax system”.

Ron WydenD., an Oregon Democrat who chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said the ProPublica report showed that “the country’s rich, who have benefited tremendously during the pandemic, have not paid their fair share.”

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