ProPublica's Bombshell Tax Report That Wasn't

The new report doesn't reveal anything we didn't already know.


In a report hyped as a "bombshell," investigative journalism outlet ProPublica managed to get access to and publish the private tax returns of thousands of the nation's wealthiest individuals. They claim the data "demolishes" the "myth" that the wealthiest Americans pay the most in taxes, and the authors employ tortured reasoning to attempt to come up with a new, nonsensical "true tax rate" for the tax data that no genuine tax policy expert would take seriously.

The idea that the tax code is already fairly progressive is not a myth at all, though—wealthier Americans pay a much higher tax rate on their income than lower-income taxpayers do.

Despite ProPublica's best efforts to make the information enclosed within seem damning, the data tell us little we didn't already know. For the 2018 tax year, the last year for which we have data, the top 1 percent paid over 40 percent of federal income taxes, despite earning just under 21 percent of total adjusted gross income (AGI). The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers earned 11.6 percent of total AGI, but paid less than 3 percent of income taxes. The same story holds when looking at all revenue sources too, so it's not just the income tax that is progressive.

ProPublica, however, tries to make the case that the wealthy are getting away with murder through the tax code, so they "do a calculation that has never been done before," comparing growth in wealth over the course of a year to taxable income. They use this to calculate an individual's "true tax rate," which is sort of like handing out wins in a baseball game in the middle of the early innings and calling it the "true outcome" of the contest.

It's hard to overstate how nonsensical this comparison is (which is perhaps why it's never been done before). Our tax system rightly does not tax growth in one's wealth until it is realized as income. After all, the alternative is a monstrously complex and unfair system of wealth taxation that developed countries have avoided.

The reason that wealth isn't taxable is fairly straightforward: You aren't directly benefiting from it until it's turned into income (at which point it is taxable). Wealthy Americans may not pay taxes on the growth that their net worth sees, but should they wish to sell assets that have appreciated in value, they would be liable for capital gains taxes on that growth.

And this is hardly some special carve-out for the wealthy. If you own a home, a retirement account, or even a car, it probably appreciated in value over the past year. And yet unless you sold those things and locked in those on-paper gains, you didn't pay taxes on that increase in value.

That doesn't constitute tax evasion; it's just how the code works.

It's worth noting how intentionally deceptive this is. ProPublica easily could have scored plenty of Twitter clicks by taking this data and using it to show the impact of a wealth tax on rich Americans, for example. Instead, they chose to deliberately mislead readers in order to advance a narrative of corruption and shadowy backroom carve-outs for wealthy bogeymen.

ProPublica is hardly the first group to use creative accounting to try to argue that the wealthy don't pay their fair share. 

Take Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, progressive economists who have long pushed for a wealth tax. They received a great deal of fawning media attention several years ago for claiming that they had groundbreaking new data showing that the wealthy pay a lower tax rate than everyone else.

To arrive at this conclusion, the economists simply ignored parts of the tax code that weren't convenient. Refundable tax credits like the child tax credit or the earned income tax credit are heavily progressive, and are in the tax code in part to offset the regressivity of other levies like the payroll tax. Yet Saez and Zucman decided to simply leave them out of their analysis.

Or more recently, take the widespread reports of the wealthiest Americans making a killing on the stock market last May as many other Americans struggled to deal with the pandemic. These reports came from calculating the growth of stock portfolios from mid-March through mid-May—a cleverly-designed starting point which omitted the February to mid-March period where the stock market cratered as fears of COVID-19 rose. This allowed analysts to disguise the subsequent recovery back to baseline values as though it was a massive windfall of new profits.

Or take the outrage over reports of large corporations paying zero income taxes in a given year. Reports of very low or zero corporate tax rates ignored the fact that this generally came from these businesses spreading out their losses from a previous year or taking advantage of research and development tax incentives––provisions in the code that enjoy bipartisan support.

Relying on the inherent complexity of the tax system to convince taxpayers that they're getting the short end of the stick may be an effective way to achieve political goals, but it's deceptive and sure to lead to ill-advised policy making. 

The biggest takeaway from the ProPublica data reveal should be just how much the data lined up with what we already know. There was no exposure of secret tax evasion and fraud—just the obvious point that the wealthy have a lot of non-liquid assets, presented as a smoking gun.

It's also worth noting that someone may have committed a serious federal crime when handing over sensitive tax return information to ProPublica. That's something that senators currently pushing to increase the IRS's tax enforcement capabilities should keep in mind: If the IRS can't safeguard the tax data it's entrusted with today, adding 87,000 new agents and giving them access to bank account information for every American is a recipe for disaster.

Taxpayers should not be fooled by this "exposé." Instead of exposing misdeeds on the part of the wealthy, ProPublica exposed the lengths to which some are willing to go to deceive the public in service of the grand progressive campaign for higher taxes.

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  1. I am shocked that ProPublica would publish something misleading to score political points!

    1. From the website – ProPublica is an independent, nonprofit newsroom that produces investigative journalism with moral force.

      So totes non partisan. And some of their leaders are so far left that they’re in danger of falling of the edge.

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  2. Possession of this personal tax information of others is illegal.

    1. The sad part is they conned some poor IRS Sanders voter into providing the information and that sap will go to jail and the ProPublica assholes who published it will probably get a Pulitzer out of it.

      1. This is the fundamental argument for banking privacy and other things that used to be considered normal. Theoretically, a person’s finances are private, but the government is made up of millions of individuals with their own motivations. Some nefarious. Even one or two are enough to spill this kind of information.

        It’s not just mega-rich people. Musk doesn’t care. Little guys building wealth are also the ones at risk. Remember that plumber guy who challenged Obama’s campaign stump speech? Someone locally leaked his finances to discredit him, he got smeared in the press for misrepresenting his level of wealth and for having a tax lien… public shaming if a private citizen to discourage other private citizens from challenging a Senator running for President.

        I don’t give a shit if the FBI has to actually get a warrant rather than just have info piped directly to them. If they miss one money launderer to keep a middle class guy who is decidedly NOT a federal criminal from having his dirty laundry aired then it’s a good trade. The FBI can do their leg work, like they did for decades before electronic records, regardless of Comey claiming Americans have no right to privacy.

        That ship seems to have sailed, though. It has been nearly 20 years since the Patriot act.

    2. But Julian Assange deserves to be in jail, because Hillary.

  3. poor and wealthy should be positioned against the elected not against each other. repeal the 16th.

  4. “It’s also worth noting that someone may have committed a serious federal crime when handing over sensitive tax return information to ProPublica. That’s something that senators currently pushing to increase the IRS’s tax enforcement capabilities should keep in mind: If the IRS can’t safeguard the tax data it’s entrusted with today, adding 87,000 new agents and giving them access to bank account information for every American is a recipe for disaster.”

    I wrote about this in morning links, and I’d like to reiterate it here:
    this is almost certainly an orchestrated leak by the Biden administration itself.

    Biden is pushing an infrastructure bill, and although he could push through the Senate, sans filibuster, without any Republican support via budget reconciliation, the Democrats don’t want to be the only ones on the hook for the bloated spending and taxes in this bill come the midterms in November of 2022.

    The reports are, as of last night, that the Biden administration has broken off talks with the Republicans for support of his infrastructure bill, and one of the bones of contention, on which the Senate Republicans wouldn’t budge, is Biden’s plan to raise taxes on the rich.

    Conveniently, some unknown source at the IRS leaks the tax returns of the uber-wealthy–which just happens to put pressure on the Republicans to tax the rich?!

    Under normal circumstances, this would merit a full investigation and a special counsel, but since we’re living under a one party government, whomever did this at the IRS knew that Biden’s Justice Department launching an investigation of the Treasury Department’s IRS division is nothing but the Biden administration investigating itself with oversight by Nancy Pelosi’s House and Chuck Schumer’s Senate.

    As a great Canadian once said, “Shit-apples don’t fall far from the shit-apple tree”. This is what happens when you have a one party government. There hasn’t been a Republican on the Minneapolis city council in 60 years. All the checks and balances are coordinated through a single power structure. The police don’t expect to be held accountable for police brutality because both the city council and the district attorney are Democrats, and the local Democratic party is controlled by the law enforcement unions.

    We would need to be pretty gullible not to think that this illegal leak wasn’t orchestrated by the Biden administration itself.

    1. RIP Leahy

    2. >>orchestrated by the Biden administration itself

      the various departments don’t seem to operate separately under any of the three Obama Administrations.

    3. You’re suggesting that there could be a coordinated campaign of various interests tied to the Biden administration? That’s crazy conspiracy talk. No one has ever heard of such a thing. What evidence do you have, sir?

      1. The media for the past 4 years?

        1. Well sir, short of any self-admission by the media– or groups connected with the media, this would seem to be an unprovable claim!

          1. My good man, such acknowledgements are only made in the polite company of “the right people”, not such as the likes of you!

          2. And of course if the media and groups connected with the media should write an article admitting how they conspired, and published it, for example, Time Magazine, then we’d all be expected to pretend it never happened.

          3. Even Biden publicly declaring the administration’s intentions won’t be good enough, because he just misspoke.

    4. investigative journalism outlet ProPublica … tries to make the case that the wealthy are getting away with murder through the tax code

      I agree. Further, the authors contradict themselves, incorrectly calling them an “investigative journalism outlet” instead of a partisan outfit masquerading as journalists though the text makes it clear how partisan they are. It’s just more fake news meant to generate more government funding of partisan outlets masquerading as journalists, and support the political class’ desired narrative to get more control over us so they can get richer.

  5. These people arent the top 1%, theyre the .1 or .01. Anyone have an idea of how they stack up re taxes paid vs the rest of the top 1 or top 10?

    It doesnt help that theyre conflating wealth and income here.

    1. Yes, that’s the first thing that jumps to mind. And not only that, but the idea that their wealth is so easily converted to cash with no ramifications is also implied.

    2. That’s the point. They’re deliberately conflating wealth and income.

      1. Musk himself has made the point that he’s rich, but liquid is millions, not billions, and the massive majority of his wealth is intangible, tied up in things like Tesla stock. He gains or loses billions based on the whims of the market, but can’t exactly pull a billion out of his hip pocket or anything.

        Gates divested Microsoft very slowly over many, many years when he wanted to diversify. When he was the richest in the world, if he’d been free of insider restrictions and had dumped his stock holding, MSFT would have straight up crashed and been worthless.

        These guys are unfathomably wealthy, don’t get me wrong. But it’s not the same as income and money in the bank like the 99.9%

    3. Also, a number of the guys they highlighted are being paid very little. Some have $1 salaries, some have $100K. Most are not getting new stock award either, they “just” have their initial holdings.

      Then guys like Gates and Buffett donate billions of dollars of appreciated stock to charities (in truth, largely their “charitable foundations”), they offset HUGE amounts of income.

      It’s also much like the complaints that Amazon doesn’t pay taxes…Amazon operated at a loss of $BB per year for many years, and those losses carry forward, offsetting current revenues. And R&D and physical plant investments are of course deductible.

      All good for them. They’re making the rules work for them. So long as they ARE doing LEGAL things, STFU.

  6. The average taxpayer will never see how it really works. Borrowing against assets isn’t income. Acquire enough appreciable assets and leverage them as the value increases. Don’t pay income taxes.

    Easier said than done, but debt isn’t income. How each person uses debt, if at all, is up to them.

    Also, the concept of net income should be easy to grasp, but people don’t like that message either.

    1. It shouldnt be considered income. And interest should be deductible.

      I find the whole thing pretty offensive, but I dont think there is anything that could be done about it without screwing all of the upper middle class and a good portion of the middle.

      Progressive taxes are the opposite of fair in the first place.

      1. >t shouldnt be considered income.


        > And interest should be deductible.


        Not arguing, just want to hear your justification for this stance .

    2. Yeah – there are some ProPublica fans that are fixated on the idea that somebody like Bezos or Gates or Musk can borrow against their assets (which are often mostly stocks and bonds), spend the money – and then later, when they die, the appropriate amount of assets will be sold to pay off the debt – AND NO INCOME TAX WILL EVER HAVE BEEN PAID ON THAT “INCOME” (THE MONEY BORROWED)!!!! It’s just not fair!

      Of course, you’re right – the strategy is much easier said than done. Progressives prefer to tell us that the game is rigged – only a few can become billionaires – and they must be punished – excuse me – taxed – so that the rest of us can be better supported by the big nanny government.

  7. Yeah remember we went through all this with Romney in 2012, the dems like to run stories like this hit piece because gullible voters eat it up. Also idiot senators like Warren and Sanders who rail on about it. Anyway if those who are wealthy want to pay more there are ways to do so if they choose. They don’t choose it, and neither do far left politicians. But uniformed public at large thinks they are getting screwed and the jacobins get ever more ingrained in our society.

    1. The top 20% of income earners are getting screwed. But, thats not who these hit pieces are trying to convince.

      People who make 400k/yr cant implement these schemes and are paying 35%, actual rich people (with fuck you money) get to skate.

      The laws they are using to avoid paying taxes are fine with me, but the fact that us high earners are paying rates 10 times what these people are is messed up.

      That the elites are using stuff like this to get lower income people to hate and punish upper middle class people is even worse.

      1. If you are making $400K and paying an effective 35% rate, fire your accountant or get one immediately. First, the marginal rate of 35% only kicks in at a little over $200K if single and above $400K if married. Most of the income is taxed at lower rates.

        Additionally there are plenty of tax laws that can help you as well. The standard deduction for a single person is over $12K and almost $25K for a couple. You can contribute $6K to an IRA. If you have children you can get child credits. Most employers offer the ability to “shelter” income in a 401K or these types of retire accounts are easy to setup for self-employed. You can put $3.5/$7K in an HSA. These are just some of the largest and easiest deductions. There are many more available.

        A married couple with a reportable income of $400K can typically reduce that by at least $50K, which would then result in an actual effective tax rate of under 19%. (Looking only at income tax and ignoring payroll or other taxes)

        Over the years I’ve had income ranging from 5 to 7 digits. It is incredibly easy to find anecdotal evidence for a single person doing something “unfair”. My personal experience is the more I earn, the higher my effective tax rate. With more income, the deductions get bigger as far as actual amounts, but lower from a percentage basis.

        And $400K puts one at more like top 5%, not top 20%. Like it not, that’s rich.

        1. You’re right, income taxes don’t tax the rich, they tax the high earners. The point is to stop the high earners from becoming rich. Limit the membership of that club. This isn’t that old-time America where you could work hard and become rich.

    2. Warren and Sanders aren’t idiots. They just know their voters are.

  8. You aren’t directly benefiting from it until it’s turned into income

    This is not true either. Wether an asset gains value within the asset, or that asset is coverted to a liquid asset by income, you still have the same value. You only benefit from it when you spend the liquid asset. That is why the Fair Tax should be the only tax.

    1. People don’t pay income taxes on it until it turns into income.

      And taxation is theft.

      Income taxes on dividends are double theft.

      1. I agree whole heartedly.

        But… What percentage of american’s agree with libertarians on this? Us libertarians are barking at the moon on almost everything.

        1. That’s always the question–how many Americans agree? And my answer, anyway, is that it’s our job to persuade more of them.

          We’re not here to seize the levers of government and inflict a low tax economy on the American people against their will using the coercive power of government. I have a lot of respect for the American people. None of us were born libertarian capitalists. We were persuaded using facts and logic, and there’s no reason why a critical mass of the American people can’t also be persuaded to want a society where our only function is to provide funds for an elite class of government bureaucrats, who might starve to death if they had to depend on being paid by willing customers.

          We have some advantages. For one, it should be easier to persuade people that their own preferences matter and they should be free to make choices for themselves–especially when compared to progressives who have nothing but contempt for average people and think that experts should make our choices for us. Another advantage is that we’re right, and the socialists are wrong. Their good intentions really are the road to hell, and we can prove it.

          1. “There’s no reason why a critical mass of the American people can’t also be persuaded [NOT] to want a society where our only function is to provide funds for an elite class of government bureaucrats”

            —-Ken Shultz


          2. That’s always the question–how many Americans agree? And my answer, anyway, is that it’s our job to persuade more of them.

            Yeah, the problem is libertarians hate conservatives with the passion of a thousand suns and those were the only people on your side when it comes to fellating the billionaire oligarchy. “Give more tax benefits to those people who hate your guts and have openly stated that they passionately want you to die” is not exactly a winning message. Good luck though.

            1. FWIW, I have no hatred for conservatives, and as far as I’m concerned, Ronald Reagan is among world history’s greatest liberators–from the tyranny of communism–and Barry Goldwater’s corpse would be a better president than Joe Biden.

              Conservatives, in recent history, have sometimes betrayed fiscal conservatism and foreign policy conservatism–they certainly did during the Bush Jr. years. Neither Barry Goldwater nor Ronald Reagan would have recognized the party of Dubya and John Boehner.

              I think a lot of libertarians are still recovering from that betrayal.

  9. So, IOW, ProPublica has an agenda and the truth is not part of that agenda. Does that about cover the situation here?

    1. “Truth” is part of the agenda, but “Truth” has nothing to do with facts and everything to do with how I feel about things. And anyone who feels differently about “Truth” or its relation to facts is a racist, misogynist, homophobe.

      –Syllabus from soon to be tenured journalism professor Nikole Hannah-Jones

  10. Take a hint, progressives: some of the government is talking about raising taxes on those making $400k or more.

    No one is talking about reducing taxes on those making less than $400k.

    You can get your panties all in a wad over the fact that someone else made different decisions than you did and it paid off big time. And one day, the government may ruin our economy disincentivizing wealth, and, still, they will never tax you less or give you much of anything.

    If socialized medicine and social security is all you want, you might be satisfied, but you really shouldn’t, because that’s peanuts. Your health insurance isn’t some huge expense upon which no longer paying it at all would change your life, and you’re most likely not going to go bankrupt from health expenses, and if you did, so what? If you’re that poor you can’t borrow much anyway, so what do you care if you go bankrupt?

    Universal pre-k isn’t going to put money in your pocket. Hell, free college isn’t going to do much for you. If you were going to make money with that degree, you wouldn’t need a free one, and if you’re not going to make money with it, it’s just a waste of 4-8 years anyway, out of which you will emerge the same as you went in.

    But, the government could work real hard punishing the successful and completely fuck up the part of our society that actually works. And you will probably feel that, good and hard, even though you will blame everyone else. Because god forbid you look in the mirror at yourself and your responsibility for your life, as opposed to reading bullshit propaganda that blames other people’s success for your failure to live up to your own expectations income-wise.

    1. Progressives hate the rich (or, at least, richer than themselves) much more than they love the poor.

      1. They love the ultra rich for whom none of this matters because they have the money and power to make it so they owe only fractions more while everyone else in the middle bears the real burden. And they get to toss some crumbs to the peasants to keep everyone orderly.

        It’s anyone who has to earn an income from their work they hate, no matter how much of it they earn.

      2. Progressives *are* the rich. The hilarious reversal the last 10 years has been watching the billionaire financier class become the pet of the radical left while the right has finally gotten woke to the fact that the billionaires they’ve spent 10 generations enabling and defending at every turn not only didn’t want or need their help, but actually want them dead.

    2. My friend, who is poor, is dying from cancer and the hospital didn’t do the necessary surgery because of her socio-economic status. Question: Should she have voted for the GOP so that she could buy an AR-15 at a gun show or because she found abortion icky? I use the past tense—perhaps cruelly— because she’s in a desperate situation and she’ll likely be dead in a couple days.

      1. I’m sure your story is a completely fair and through treatment of the whole affair, and a government doctor would have saved her life, considering how socialized medicine never says no to anyone.

        If only she had been spending other people’s money, they would have taken better care of her.

        If making sure that never happens to you is the end all, be all of your glorious revolution, then your work comes cheap.

        Do better.

      2. The United States has better cancer survival rates than all of the European countries that socialists hold up as the “better outcome” systems.

        By your own logic, you want to create a health care system here that increases the likelihood your friend will die of cancer.

        Why should she listen to you about voting, when you want what’s worse for her? Is life boring? Has she had enough?

        1. “”By your own logic, you want to create a health care system here that increases the likelihood your friend will die of cancer.””

          Or a parent that is deemed too old for the surgery. The left totally ignores how those countries ration health care.

        2. As an over 40 male I have realized the push for socialized medicine and reason insurance is so expensive is women. It is not men who are running to the doctor every time they get the sniffles or have a heavy cramp. We don’t do “wellness” checkups unless we are forced to. I know my body, have had it since before I was born and I know when something is wrong enough to see a doctor. So it is not the big ticket items that bother them, it is the 50 dollar here and 100 there when they see the doctor for these small items and that is where socialized medicine shines…they don’t think about the consequences when the open heart or cancer treatment takes months or years to get a slot but got my pap smear for free. That is why this is the group all the medical advertising is concentrated on. Don’t believe me, how many Men’s hospitals have you seen, here in the TMC in Houston off the cuff I can name four towers alone that have “Women” in the name, even an entire hospital.

      3. My friend, who is poor, is dying from cancer

        When an avowed socialist quotes a statistic, you can be pretty sure they made it up or are misrepresenting it. If they share an anecdote, it is guaranteed to be a lie.

        1. Noble lies in the name of the revolution are always justified, because exploitation.

        2. Nope. Unfortunately not. One of many people who die from the shit medical care that people who don’t have money get in this country. Brian thinks poor people in the USA get better health care than they do in Europe. What a fucking riot.

          1. I bet you $20,000 that the 5-year cancer survival rates in the US outrank every nation in Europe.

            Put your money where your mouth is, and then we can look it up afterward.

            1. You think AmSoc has $20k?

              I’d be shocked if it had $20.

  11. Appreciation of unsold assets are paper gains. You have no idea of how much they are really worth until they are sold. Trying to tax the asset based on an arbitrary snapshot is not just and will lead to perverse incentives.

    Yes, the person who gave this information to Pro Publica committed a crime and violated the privacy of the people this info was based on. That person also likely considers themselves a “whistleblower” deserving of legal protection.

    1. Yes, the person who gave this information to Pro Publica committed a crime and violated the privacy of the people this info was based on. That person also likely considers themselves a “whistleblower” deserving of legal protection.

      If Bradley Manning, Ed Snowden and Julian Assange are “whistleblowers”, why not this guy? Is not one man’s terrorist the other man’s freedom fighter?

  12. You have been Fact Checked, Reason, by a Trusted Source:

    WASHINGTON — The rich really are different from you and me: They’re better at dodging the tax collector.

    Overall, the richest 25 Americans pay less in tax — an average of 15.8% of adjusted gross income — than many ordinary workers do, once you include taxes for Social Security and Medicare, ProPublica found. Its findings are likely to heighten a national debate over the vast and widening inequality between the very wealthiest Americans and everyone else.

    A spokesperson for Soros, who has supported higher taxes on the rich, told ProPublica that the billionaire had lost money on his investments from 2016 to 2018 and so did not owe federal income tax for those years. Musk responded to ProPublica’s initial request for comment with a punctuation mark — “?” — and did not answer detailed follow-up questions.

    “It always seems like the solutions are cast as radical when there’s less focus on the current situation being radical,’’ Marr said.

    Democratic Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders, as well as Rep. Pramila Jayapal, D-Seattle, among others, have proposed taxing the wealth of the richest Americans, not just their income.

    Jayapal, who in March introduced a wealth-tax bill in the House, said in an interview Tuesday that ProPublica’s reporting underscored for her that “the wealthiest people in America are not paying their fair share.”

    “It isn’t just [tax] loopholes, it’s also how we structure our taxes,” Jayapal said. “The fact that we don’t tax wealth is a big problem.”

    Trusted… source.

    1. It’ll be fucking awesome when they get fucked off of social media for “misinformation” for toeing the line for their billionaire benefactor.


  13. ” . . . investigative journalism outlet ProPublica . . . ”

    Criminal conspirators and propagandists ProPublica – – – –

  14. Our tax system rightly does not tax growth in one’s wealth until it is realized as income.

    I suppose it depends on what is meant by “our tax system”. The value of my house is skyrocketing as MMT has made a joke of nominal pricing. I don’t have to sell it to pay more in property taxes every year as my

  15. “Government is the great fiction where everyone endeavors to live at the expense of everyone else.” -Bastiat

    1. Hilariously ironic coming from a self-confessed homeless, drug addict, alcoholic welfare case.

  16. Notice how leftists seem to always lie or deceive? They’re always making up stories or exaggerating or pretending.

  17. Lol. Koch-suckers in full damage control mode.

    “Well sure, billionaires pay no federal income taxes, but they never have!”

    If you didn’t want left-wing populists talking about confiscating your inheritance maybe you should have thought twice about spending half a trillion bucks electing a senile old piece of shit who has made a career out of demonizing the rich.

  18. Let wingers count on the ignorance of their followers, and they’ve never yet been disappointed by them.

  19. investigative journalism outlet ProPublica

    Thanks. That’s the funniest damned thing I’ve read all week.


    Pfizer shares climb after a Washington Post report that the Biden administration will buy 500 million doses of the drugmaker’s COVID-19 vaccine to donate to the world $PFE [link]

  21. “Our tax system rightly does not tax growth in one’s wealth until it is realized as income. ”

    OPM Joe and the Progs are seeking to tax inheritances based upon unrealized gains at a cap gains rate of 43%.

    So much for not taxing unrealized gains…

  22. More rich person propaganda, courtesy of reason.

    Suck that Koch dick harder reason writers.

    1. Yes, the productive are terrible. We should make sure there are fewer of them. That will make the world a better place.

  23. ProPublica managed to get access to

    So either they 1. hacked the IRS and gained access, or 2. got the information from an IRS employee who retrieved and disseminated this information in opposition to federal law.

    All of this information is private by law.

  24. I agree the ProPublica “bombshell” report is incredibly naive. Of course people don’t pay income tax on gains of owned assets (stocks, options, real estate).

    Imagine the damage this would do to middle class families that bought a house years ago and then had that house appreciate in value significantly. Taxing the gain in value of that owned asset would force many families to sell their house to pay the taxes…in some jurisdictions, property taxes can have the same effect in the house case…it sucks.

    If you forced the billionaires to pay taxes on gains in their stock you would force them to liquidate a lot of stock to pay taxes which would wreak havoc with stock prices.

    So the whole propublica “we are going to do something never done before…look at tax rate in terms of wealth gain” is either stupid, naive or intentionally emotionally manipulative.

    If we want the rich to pay more taxes, we need to focus on the vehicles they use to access/share that wealth over time (capital gains tax rates, trusts, international transfers, inheritance, etc) and not force the sale of assets because of some value on paper.

    Imagine startup founders with 0-cost share ownership and shares that are not liquid. Venture Capitalists come along and give the company investment at some valuation that gives those 0-cost shares some “on paper” value. Many of these founders are living like students and their shares are not liquid (e.g. they can’t sell or trade them for money easily). If you tax them on the theoretical asset paper gain based on some (often ridiculous) VC company valuation…they will be bankrupt. By all means once they convert their shares into something more liquid in the future, tax them then on the income from that long-term asset gain.

  25. Here’s the thing though the stocks they are paid in are taxed as Capital gains so 20% when they sell that’s as much or less than effective tax rates paid by middle class taxpayers on their income every year. I agree that the proPublica article is being intellectually dishonest in how it’s presenting info to push an agenda but so is this article.

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