An analysis by ProPublica based on I.R.S. documents showed billionaires like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk benefited from tax code loopholes and a focus on taxing income over wealth.
WASHINGTON — The 25 richest Americans, including Jeff Bezos, Michael Bloomberg and Elon Musk, paid relatively little — and sometimes nothing — in federal income taxes between 2014 and 2018, according to an analysis from the news organization ProPublica that was based on a trove of Internal Revenue Service tax data.
The analysis showed that the nation’s richest executives paid just a fraction of their wealth in taxes — $13.6 billion in federal income taxes during a time period when their collective net worth increased by $401 billion, according to a tabulation by Forbes.
The documents reveal the stark inequity in the American tax system, as plutocrats like Mr. Bezos, Mr. Bloomberg, Warren Buffett, Mr. Musk and George Soros were able to benefit from a complex web of loopholes in the tax code and the fact that the United States puts its emphasis on taxing labor income versus wealth. Much of the wealth that the rich accrue — like shares in companies they run, vacation homes, yachts and other investments — isn’t considered “taxable income” unless those assets are sold and a gain is realized. Even then, there are loopholes in the tax code that can limit or erase all tax liability.