This week, ProPublica released a massive scoop—a treasure trove of financial records showing how some of the U.S.’s wealthiest billionaires scamper off with virtually no tax burden. And the U.S. government knows exactly what to do in response: find whoever released those embarrassing records and incarcerate the shit out of them.
ProPublica obtained official Internal Revenue Service documents that were, admittedly, not supposed to be public knowledge and released key details about just how well various tax tricks used by the ultra-wealthy are working out for them. For example, compared to Forbes estimates, the country’s 25 richest people saw a net growth of $401 billion in wealth from 2014 to 2018 but paid just $13.6 billion in federal income tax—an effective rate of 3.4%. Berkshire Hathaway investment titan Warren Buffet saw his net worth rise by $24.3 billion over that period, paying just $23.7 million in tax. Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos saw his net worth rise by $99 billion, paying just $973 million in tax. Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s ratio was $22.5 billion in net worth gains to $292 million in tax, while Tesla/SpaceX CEO Elon Musk was $13.9 billion to $455 million.
Morally obscene display of inequality and impunity as this is, the U.S. government has far more pressing concerns, such as punishing whoever squealed. Attorney General Merrick Garland assured lawmakers on Wednesday that one of his most immediate focuses will be plugging the leak, wherever or whoever it might be.