ProPublica has obtained a "vast trove" of data from the Internal Revenue Service, providing a glimpse into "how comprehensively the wealthiest Americans avoid paying taxes."
The outlet on Tuesday published a major report examining IRS data on thousands of the wealthiest people in the United States from over the course of more than 15 years. The report found that Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos paid no federal income taxes in 2007 and 2011, while Tesla CEO Elon Musk paid no federal income taxes in 2018. Musk also reportedly paid $68,000 in federal income tax in 2015 and $65,000 in 2017, and ProPublica writes his "tax bills in no way reflect the fortune he has at his disposal."
Additionally, ProPublica used the IRS data to compare how much the 25 richest Americans have paid each year in taxes to how much their wealth grew in order to calculate their "true tax rate."
"The results are stark," ProPublica writes. "According to Forbes, those 25 people saw their worth rise a collective $401 billion from 2014 to 2018. They paid a total of $13.6 billion in federal income taxes in those five years, the IRS data shows. That's a staggering sum, but it amounts to a true tax rate of only 3.4 percent."
Based on this metric, from 2014 to 2018, Warren Buffett paid a "true tax rate" of 0.10 percent, while Bezos paid 0.98 percent, former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg paid 1.30 percent, and Musk paid 3.27 percent, ProPublica reports.
When ProPublica reached out to Musk for comment, he reportedly responded simply with "?", and ignored detailed questions. ProPublica says it will use the IRS data it obtained to further explore "how the ultrawealthy avoid taxes, exploit loopholes and escape scrutiny from federal auditors" in the coming months. Read the full report at ProPublica.