IRS launches investigation into leak of billionaire tax returns

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has begun an investigation into the leakage of data on tax returns of the richest Americans. This was stated by the head of the IRS Charles Rettig at the hearing of the Senate Finance Committee.

On Tuesday, ProPublica published an investigation according to which 25 of the richest Americans, including Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, Amazon and Tesla heads Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, were paying significantly less income tax than they should have. according to general rules. With a total growth of the state of $ 401 billion from 2014 to 2018, billionaires paid 3.4% of the federal tax, or $ 13.6 billion. At the same time, ProPublica notes that journalists do not know the name of the source or his motives. “We assumed that the information we received could have come from a government actor who was unfriendly to America’s interests,” reads the accompanying material. ProPublica noted that it has double-checked the information as much as possible, and as a general rule for publication, the motives of the sources are “irrelevant if the information is reliable.”

However, as noted by Mr. Rettig, any disclosure of confidential information, including the release of details of the tax returns of US citizens, is a crime. “I share every American’s concern about the sensitive… and confidential nature of the information the IRS receives,” said Mr. Rettig.

The low tax payments of some American billionaires are not news or a secret in themselves. For example, the three richest people in the United States – Elon Musk, Jeff Bezos and Bill Gates – do not pay income tax, as they live in California and Washington, states that do not levy this type of tax. In addition, under US tax law, asset gains are not considered income until they are sold. Combined with other tax optimization techniques, this allowed billionaires to pay taxes at a significantly lower rate than the average American family. And in 2020, The New York Times analyzed the tax returns of then US President Donald Trump. The newspaper noted that Mr Trump had not paid income tax for ten years, citing losses incurred in the 1980s and 1990s. In May 2021, the New York State Attorney General’s Office notified Mr Trump’s structures that an investigation into possible tax fraud, ongoing since 2019, has become criminal in nature.

Kirill Sarkhanyants

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