Taxing the wealthy a taxing question

ProPublica, which identifies itself as “a nonprofit newsroom that investigates abuses of power,” recently published an expose under the headline “How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax.”

Using leaked tax return information, the article alleged that billionaire Jeff Bezos of Amazon avoided income taxes completely in 2007 and 2011 while Elon Musk of Tesla managed the same feat in 2018.

Adding Warren Buffett and Michael Bloomberg to the list, ProPublica calculated a “true tax rate” in the range of 0.1% to 3.27% from 2014-2018. ProPublica compared this to the 14% federal tax rate paid by the median household with earnings of about $70,000 annually.

What is a “true tax rate”?

To ProPublica, the true rate is based on the growth of wealth, not on taxable income. Growth of wealth includes the increasing value of company stock owned by these men. For Bezos, the increasing value of Amazon stock came to more than $90 billion, all of which went…

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