This week an organization that may benefit from heavy tax burdens on rich people is launching a campaign to advocate for heavier tax burdens on rich people.
“The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax” is the headline on a story this week from ProPublica, which also avoids income tax. The story is highly disturbing because someone or perhaps multiple people broke the law in disclosing private tax-return data that ultimately ended up with ProPublica. This appears to be either a case of criminal hacking, an appalling abuse by Internal Revenue Service staff, or perhaps an abuse by foreign government actors who duped the IRS into oversharing. Under tax treaties the IRS may disclose taxpayer information with some foreign governments if the information is “foreseeably relevant” to tax issues in the overseas jurisdictions.
As for the substance of the article, it is nominally about income taxes but it really amounts to a long gripe that the U.S. Constitution prohibits wealth taxes unless they are apportioned by state population. In the absence of a wealth tax, U.S. entrepreneurs who hold on to shares in the companies they built and then donate them to causes they support can end up paying very little federal tax in relation to the value of the enterprises they built. This is especially true if their growing businesses pay few or no dividends along the way, but instead use available cash to invest in new plants and new products, which often creates new jobs.
For some reason this bothers the ProPublica crowd, but give them credit for being willing to bite a hand that feeds them. The article scores investor George Soros, alleging that he “paid no federal income tax three years in a row.”
One reason Mr. Soros hasn’t paid higher taxes over the years is that he has donated billions of dollars to his charitable vehicle, the Open Society Foundations, which in turn has helped to fund various leftist causes, including ProPublica. What would the organization do without billionaires rationally seeking to avoid tax collectors?
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