Politics 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.

15:50  10 june  2021
15:50  10 june  2021 Source:   businessinsider.com

Leak of billionaires' tax data draws GOP outcry over privacy

  Leak of billionaires' tax data draws GOP outcry over privacy WASHINGTON (AP) — Republicans in Congress are alarmed by the leak of confidential IRS data to the investigative news organization ProPublica, enabling it to reveal that famous billionaires including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg paid little in U.S. income tax at times. A senior IRS official said Thursday that a federal criminal investigation into the leak has been requested. Taking a detour from the debate over President Joe Biden’s tax overhaul plan, the GOP lawmakers are demanding to know how the private tax data was disclosed and they are pressing the Treasury Department and the IRS to pursue anyone who violated the law.

Elizabeth Warren wearing a blue shirt: Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed introducing a wealth tax. Tom Williams Pool: Getty Images © Tom Williams Pool: Getty Images Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren has proposed introducing a wealth tax. Tom Williams Pool: Getty Images
  • Some members of Congress are mulling new tax reforms for the super wealthy, NYT reports.
  • A ProPublica report showed how some of richest Americans had legally slashed their income tax bills.
  • A GOP senator who oversaw a 2017 corporation tax cut criticized the reported tax avoidance.
  • See more stories on Insider's business page.

A ProPublica investigation 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.

New report reignites push for wealth tax

  New report reignites push for wealth tax A blockbuster ProPublica report on the taxes paid by the richest Americans is reigniting a push from progressives for a wealth tax.The report, based on tax-return data ProPublica received from an anonymous source, details how prominent billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk have paid little to no taxes in some recent years, particularly when compared to their wealth gains.The article comes as President Biden has proposed raising taxes on the wealthy and corporations to pay for his major spending proposals.

The nonprofit news site ProPublica published a report on Tuesday showing how much the 25 richest Americans - including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, and Mark Zuckerberg - paid in tax. The report highlighted how two key tax loopholes benefit billionaires.

Some billionaires had slashed their tax bill via deductions made possible by tax cuts passed during the Trump administration, the ProPublica report said.

Republican Sen. Patrick J. Toomey, of Pennsylvania, told The New York Times that a 2017 corporation tax cut that he helped author was not intended to let the super-rich avoid paying taxes.

"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."

Republicans open new line of attack on IRS

  Republicans open new line of attack on IRS The IRS is back in Republicans' crosshairs following a ProPublica report based on the confidential tax records of the wealthiest Americans.Republicans have long disliked the tax-collection agency, and have been critical of President Biden's proposal to give the IRS significantly more resources. Now, GOP lawmakers are amplifying their attacks on the IRS in light of an unauthorized disclosure of tax data to ProPublica, arguing that it undermines taxpayers' ability to have confidence in the agency. "This is an astonishing breach of trust that should make taxpayers very concerned," Rep.

Read more: ProPublica's billionaire tax data shows the importance of closing 2 key tax loopholes. Here's how.

ProPublica reported that Musk's wealth grew by $14 billion from 2014 to 2018, but that he only paid $455 million in taxes. Bezos did not pay any income taxes for at least two years between 2006 and 2018, the report said.

Buffett paid minimal tax by holding Berkshire Hathaway stock and not paying a dividend, according to ProPublica's report. The investor defended himself 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.

A Republican-led Congress cut the corporation tax rate from 35% to 21% in 2017 under former President Donald Trump, benefiting company shareholders. The 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Act also reduced the tax rate for the top income bracket from 39.6% to 37%.

Democratic Sen. Ron Wyden, chairman of the Senate finance committee, said he was considering new reforms following the report, but did not share details.

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Democratic Sen. Elizabeth Warren has pushed for a wealth tax - a 2% tax on a person's net worth between $50 million and $1 billion. In March, Warren introduced an Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act with Rep. Pramila Jayapal of Washington and Rep. Brendan Boyle of Pennsylvania.

"Raising multibillionaires' income taxes isn't enough when these guys don't grow their fortunes from income," Warren tweeted Wednesday. "We need a Wealth Tax in American to help fix a tax system that's rigged for the rich and powerful."

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Steve Bannon Demands Higher Taxes on the Rich: 'You're Being Scammed' .
"The game is rigged," the former Trump administration official said.The ex–senior counselor to former President Donald Trump went on a rant against tax avoidance by the nation's wealthiest people during his War Room podcast on Thursday. Bannon's remarks came after ProPublica published a lengthy report this week examining the tax records of some of the country's richest individuals, finding that many paid little or no income taxes in various years over the past decade.

usr: 1
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