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Jeff Bezos claimed $4000 tax credit for his children in 2011, ProPublica tax leaks show

The Secret IRS Files by ProPublica alleges that some of the richest men in America have filed the least tax possible, sometimes not even that
Jeff Bezos attends WIRED25 Summit: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Tech Icons Of The Past & Future on October 15, 2018 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25)
Jeff Bezos attends WIRED25 Summit: WIRED Celebrates 25th Anniversary With Tech Icons Of The Past & Future on October 15, 2018 in San Francisco, California. (Photo by Phillip Faraone/Getty Images for WIRED25)

On June 8, ProPublica published a report titled 'The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax' that has gone viral online as it reveals some of the ways in which the country's richest men managed to avoid paying their taxes or pay the least amount possible.

The names included in this Elon Musk, Jeff Besoz, Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn and George Soros. The report also recalls how Bezos did not just manage to not pay any taxes one year, but he also managed to get $4000 in tax credits for himself and his children. This happened in a year where Bezos had reportedly recorded his personal fortune at $18 billion. 


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So is all of this legal? The report peruses Internal Revenue Service data on tax returns covering 15 years to come to the shocking answer, It reveals that the idea that the richest people pay the most tax within the American tax system is a complete myth.

To add context to the meagre amount of tax rich men paid, here's a comparison. A person who earns $70,000 must pay 14% of their earnings as tax and the percentage only increases the more you earn. For instance, a household that has a couple earning $628,300 jointly would have to pay 37%. 

The rich, however, sidestep this entire process and what is shocking is that they are doing it legally. It must be understood that many of the billionaires' fortunes depend on the assets they hold. These include stocks and property gains, which are not taxable income under current US laws.

Taxes only come into play if and when the owner sells their assets. Data showed that the 25 richest men in the country earned a collective $401 billion from 2014 to 2018. The amount that they paid in taxes is $13.6. So the percentage that they paid in taxes is as little as 3.4%. Which stands in stark contrast to what a typical American household must pay as their income increases. 

Bezos is one such billionaire who has side-stepped paying taxes; not once but multiple times. In 2007, Bezos did not pay a single penny in federal taxes. He pulled the same routine in 2011.

In the most recent accounting of his wealth, Bezos' net worth stands at $18 billion. Not only has he not paid taxes, Bezos has also collected $4000 in tax credits for himself and his children. He did so by a filing tax return, claiming a loss. His earnings had offset his loss, yet, because his earning was so little, he was able to claim these tax credits. 

So if we were to calculate Bezos' true tax rate, it was reported that between 2006 to 2018, his wealth increased by $127 billion, as quoted by Forbes. However, the tax that he paid was $1.4 billion which means his tax rate was a paltry 1.1%. People on Twitter have since raised voice against how this has been made possible. 

One user wrote in sarcastic tweet, "BREAKING: JEFF BEZOS WILL FLY TO SPACE TO AVOID TAXES ON EARTH." Another user wrote, "Who COULDN'T afford to go to space if they literally hoarded billions of dollars and didn't pay a cent in taxes? @JeffBezos." This is in reference to the announcment that was made about Bezos flying to space. 



One user wrote, "So much infuriating stuff in here on billionaires not paying income tax, but Jeff Bezos paying zero income tax *and* claiming a $4,000 child tax credit is like a the sprinkling of infuriating finishing salt." To this another responded, "If the phrase “Jeff Bezos claimed the Child Tax Credit” doesn’t instantly turn you into a Maoist, you’re beyond reason."