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Top Republicans demand CRIMINAL charges for whoever leaked tax files of the ultra wealthy

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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is demanding a criminal investigation into the leaking of confidential tax information, insisting that whoever was responsible be imprisoned.

He wants the Justice Department and FBI to investigate who released information about some of the country’s wealthiest taxpayers including Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffet.

‘Our tax returns are, by law, confidential because of just this kind of shenanigans,’ he told conservative host Hugh Hewitt’s radio show.

‘These people, ought to, whoever did this, ought to be hunted down and thrown into jail.’ 

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011, according to IRS records obtained by ProPublica and published on Tuesday

Tesla founder Elon Musk's income tax bill came to zero in 2018, the records show.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011, while Tesla founder Elon Musk’s income tax bill came to zero in 2018, according to IRS records obtained by ProPublica and published on Tuesday

In a letter with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Mike Crapo, McConnell said: 'It has become clear that bad actors are more than happy to weaponize Americans’ tax information for political purposes.' They demanded prison for the person responsible for the leak

In a letter with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Mike Crapo, McConnell said: ‘It has become clear that bad actors are more than happy to weaponize Americans’ tax information for political purposes.’ They demanded prison for the person responsible for the leak

HOW CAN THE SUPER-RICH PAY LOWER TAXES? 

Many billionaires are able to reduce their federal tax bills using legal tax strategies.  

Among the ways they can reduce tax bills are:

Making sizable donations to charity

The rich can reduce tax bills through the use of charitable donations. 

They can deduct up to 60 percent of adjusted gross income with donations. 

Investing in stocks to avoid wage income

The rich can reduce taxes by avoiding wage income, which can be taxed at up to 37 percent.

They can instead benefit from investment income, which is often taxed at 20 percent.

Paying themselves lower salaries

If the mega-rich pay themselves a lower salary, they can then take a higher portion of the income as dividends.

The lower salary is then taxed a normal rate. Dividends are often taxed the same as the capital gains rate, which is between 15 to 20 percent.

Another option is to opt for part of their compensation in their company stock options. Stock is usually only taxed when the options are exercised.

The details were published in a ProPublica report describing how some of the country’s wealthiest people paid little income tax.

Amazon founder Jeff Bezos ‘s income tax bill was zero in 2007 and 2011, according to the non-profit investigative journalism organization.

Tesla founder Elon Musk’s also paid no income tax 2018 while financier George Soros went three years in a row without paying any federal income tax.

It cited an anonymous source ‘who provided us with large amounts of information on the ultrawealthy, everything from the taxes they paid to the income they reported to the profits from their stock trades.’

McConnell, along with Sens. Chuck Grassley and Mike Crapo, announced Monday he had written to Attorney General Merrick Garland and FBI Director Christopher Waray to demand those responsible be prosecuted and and jailed.

They wrote that tax filers are expected to disclose personal information and in return can expect that their information is treated confidentially.

‘Paying one’s taxes is a civic duty, and that duty requires taxpayers to disclose to the IRS deeply personal financial information…’ including where they live and work, how much they spend on healthcare and child care, and the size of retirement funds, they said.

‘But those compelled disclosures should not, and do not, make that financial information public.’

Confidentiality is a vital step to preventing the information being used for illicit purposes,’ they said.

‘Th[e] rule of confidentiality is about more than just protecting individual privacy, although that is an important objective,’ they wrote.

‘The rule is a vital check against the use of the incredible power of federal taxation for nefarious political purposes.’

TAX DATA FOR RICHEST AMERICANS: 2014 to 2018 
Warren Buffett   
Year Total taxes paid Total income reported 
2014  $7.93 million  $46.8 million 
2015  $1.85 million  $11.6 million 
2016  $3.82 million  $19.6 million 
2017  $4.75 million  $22 million 
2018  $5.36 million  $24.8 million 
Jeff Bezos     
Year  Total taxes paid  Total income reported 
2014  $85.4 million  $367 million 
2015  $126 million  $542 million 
2016  $320 million  $1.35 billion 
2017  $398 million  $1.68 billion 
2018  $43.5 million  $284 million 
Elon Musk     
Year  Total taxes paid  Total income reported 
2014  $30.4 million  $165 million 
2015  $78.5K  $3.15 million 
2016  $42 million  $1.34 billion 
2017  $73.7K  $6.22 million 
2018  $8.41K  $3.85 million 
Source: IRS DATA OBTAINED BY PROPUBLICA 

Details emerged, they continued, just before the Senate Finance Committee held a hearing to consider President Biden’s proposed 2022 budget increases for the IRS.

‘It has become clear that bad actors are more than happy to weaponize Americans’ tax information for political purposes,’ they wrote.

‘It is further clear that this wanton and criminal abuse of the tax system disproportionately—indeed, exclusively—advances the objectives of the political left in this country.’

They added: ‘Ultimately, the only way to prevent these dangerous disclosures is to ensure that those who unlawfully disclose tax information go to jail.’

IRS Commissioner Charles Rettig revealed last week that authorities had already launched an investigation.

‘We have turned it over to the appropriate investigators, both external and internal,’ he said during a previously scheduled Senate Finance Committee hearing.

The trove of data also showed how investor Carl Icahn did not pay federal tax in 2016 and 2017.

ProPublica calculated what it described as the ‘true tax rate’ for the billionaires based on the amount they paid from 2014 to 2018 compared how much Forbes estimated their wealth had grown during that period.

It found that the 25 richest Americans paid a lower rate than the average worker.

The median American household earned an average salary of about $70,000 and paid 14 percent in federal taxes per year.

In comparison, the richest 25 paid a true tax rate of 3.4 percent from 2014 to 2018 on wealth growth of $401 billion.



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