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Everybody Should Be Really Fucking Pissed Off That The Richest Men In The Country, Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk, Warren Buffett, Carl Icahn, and Michael Bloomberg, Pay Less Taxes Than Anybody. And By "Less Than" I Mean Zero

Pro Publica - In 2007, Jeff Bezos, then a multibillionaire and now the world’s richest man, did not pay a penny in federal income taxes. He achieved the feat again in 2011. In 2018, Tesla founder Elon Musk, the second-richest person in the world, also paid no federal income taxes.

Michael Bloomberg managed to do the same in recent years. Billionaire investor Carl Icahn did it twice. George Soros paid no federal income tax three years in a row.

ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits.

Taken together, it demolishes the cornerstone myth of the American tax system: that everyone pays their fair share and the richest Americans pay the most. The IRS records show that the wealthiest can — perfectly legally — pay income taxes that are only a tiny fraction of the hundreds of millions, if not billions, their fortunes grow each year.

"Qu'ils mangent de la brioche"

French to English translation = "Let them eat cake".

Everybody's heard the famous phrase attributed to Marie Antoinette, but not many know the origin behind it.

In 1789, during the French Revolution, when the people of France were rebelling against the established monarchy because they were being taxed out the ass and still suffered through countless, continuous famine, and economic instability. The people of France were literally starving to death. A terrible crop harvest, rodents infestation, and a whole number of other factors led to an enormous bread shortage. 

Upon hearing this news, Marie Antoinette, the queen to King Louis XIV is said to have replied; “let them eat cake”. 

Cake is obviously a luxury item, and way more expensive than bread. The quote just went to show how oblivious and out of touch she was with her subjects.

I'd never heard of Jesse Eisinger before reading this bombshell article, but I'm a fan now.

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He's also more than likely a dead man walking after publishing it, considering Mitch and his cronies are up in arms.

(Correction skeletor, the crooks who allowed these laws to be written and passed enabling this shit should be thrown into jail.)

Needless to say, this is a wild article to read. There is so much here that it will be difficult to put into a blog that flows and isn't all over the place, but I'll give it my best shot. It's a "must read" not so much because it's a huge surprise (it isn't), but because of just how egregious these mother fuckers abuse the very system that they pay to manipulate.

Look at this.

One of my best friends from college is a lobbyist on Capitol Hill. I'm the Godfather to his son so we're basically family and I can't go too hard on him. Going back to what I wrote yesterday, just because we have different views on things doesn't mean we can't still be friends.

And boy do we differ on things. 

I think lobbying is the root of all evil.

Our forefathers, and "the landed gentry" did everything they could to prevent the erosion of the Republic through the viles of money, influence, and corruption. Lobbyists, such as my friend, will cite that "lobbying is a necessary evil" and that for just as much corruption it leads to, it is also responsible for minority special interest groups and philanthropic causes.

I'm the kind of person that calls a spade a spade and lobbying is just a ten dollar word for bribery.

Investopedia outlines the difference between lobbying and bribery as-

 “While both seek a favorable outcome, the two remain distinct practices. Bribery is considered an effort to buy power–paying to guarantee a certain result; lobbying is considered an effort to influence power, often by offering contributions.”

“Lobbyists try to shape laws, legislation, and public policy to the benefit of the group or entity that employs them.” Lobbyists don’t always immediately send money, but can use more insidious tactics such as, “they fund a study or survey or research that might sway a politician’s opinion–or their constituency’s opinion.”

Money from bribery goes straight to one being bribed, but money from lobbying usually “go to that person’s election or re-election campaign.” The article continues to explain, “There’s a tacit understanding, if not an outright quid pro quo: We supported your interests; in turn, you support us and ours–by voting for (or against) this bill.”

Lobbying takes the concept of “by the people, for the people” and bastardizes it to “by the people, for the corporations and interest groups.”

And there's no better example of how "lobbying" has fucked things up than the United States Tax Code.

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Remember in high school when the quarterback sucked up to a nerd for help with passing a class or to do their homework? On the outside it would confuse the fuck out of people. "Why the fuck was Lance the starting QB, high school heartthrob letting Arnold Poindexter sit next to him at lunch?" 

Because he was doing all his homework and writing all his papers for him. That's why.

Next thing you know all the girls are wondering what kind of heat Arnold is packing in his trousers and hoping he asks them out to the spring fling.

It was a mutually beneficial relationship.

Just like these mega-corporations and these boner politicians.

You scratch my back, I scratch yours.

The fat cats throw a little scratch to the the D.C. dicklords, maybe invite them to one of their giant company concert festival parties (which they write off obviously), or send their private jet to take them and their family down to one of their dozen houses in the Caribbean. Then of course write hefty campaign fundraiser checks come election season. And around and around it goes.

The people who pay for people to get elected essentially get to write the laws, through "lobbying", to benefit themselves, and the suckers like us sit here and fight each other over who's right and who's wrong about meaningless shit. Meanwhile the fat cats sit back and laugh.

Alex Wong. Getty Images.

NY Times - It turns out Donald Trump was the canary in the gold mine. While everyone was outraged about the first modern president who refused to show his tax returns, real billionaires were skating.

Senator Patrick Toomey, Republican of Pennsylvania, who was one of the architects of the law that cut taxes by more than a trillion dollars, defended tax rates for “high income people” at a town hall, but in an interview with The Times sounded a more critical note.

“My intention as the author of the 2017 tax reform was not that multibillionaires ought to pay no taxes,” he said. “I believe dividends and capital gains should be taxed at a lower rate, but certainly not zero.”

I'm by no means a tax expert, or a financial expert, (one of my majors was Poli Sci tho) but it doesn't take a genius to glean the following from the report-

the superrich earn virtually all their wealth from the constantly rising value of their assets, particularly in the stock market, and that the sales of those assets are taxed at a lower rate than ordinary income from a paycheck.” And while the value of those assets grows by the billion, untaxed, these rich folks can borrow against them, deducting the interest.

Compound interest. We've all heard the term growing up from the most fiscally responsible and well off person we know. Save save save. The beauty of compound interest will make you wealthy. 

Well when you're compounding disgusting amounts of wealth, that interest and those dividends are in turn so ridiculous that it's not only more than enough for somebody to live off, it's more than some third world countries GDP.T

To paraphrase Eisinger, the filthy rich are not in our tax system. They're off in an entirely different universe, one where income is essentially voluntary. The shorthand for what they're doing is 'buy, borrow, die.' You buy, or you build, or you inherit your money. You borrow against it. You don't pay taxes on the gains. And then when you die, there are various ways that you can avoid estate tax.

The means that they have at their disposal - their purchasing power, their political power, their influence, their charitable givings - all emanate from their wealth and, more directly, their wealth growth. We thought that wealth growth is more properly thought of as income for these people. 

My favorite part of stories like these, and blogging them, are when the finance bros come and chirp me for being an idiot because I don't "understand the system."

The only thing better then those cubicle cockrings are the poor schmucks like the rest of us, or people living paycheck to paycheck like A LOT of Americans that for some reason think it's in their best interest to defend this bullshit.

They have absolutely zero in common with the uber-rich yet they feel like criticizing them somehow makes them a socialist or Anti-American or something. Or is it that they think one day they'll be on that level and want to be able to play by the same rules?

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I don't get it, it's mind bottling.

Neither does Eisinger-

"Everybody has said, 'Checkmate, ProPublica, you idiots, we don't tax unrealized gains in this country,' to which we say, 'Yes, that is the point of our article.'"

As for each guy on a case by case basis-

Warren Buffett

Paul Morigi. Getty Images.

Warren Buffett is really astonishing. He's the king. He has avoided more tax than anyone in America by our measurements. - the famed investor minimizes his income by keeping his fortune in Berkshire Hathaway stock and not paying a dividend. Buffett's two main strategies to minimize his income, and therefore his taxes. The investor keeps over 99% of his wealth in Berkshire stock - which isn't taxed until sold - and his company doesn't pay a dividend, which shareholders would have to pay taxes on.

He defended himself in a detailed statement to ProPublica, explaining that he's pledged to donate more than 99% of his fortune to good causes. He's donated about half of his Berkshire stock - worth about $100 billion at the current stock price - to five foundations since 2006.

"I believe the money will be of more use to society if disbursed philanthropically than if it is used to slightly reduce an ever-increasing US debt," he said.

Good for Warren. All his money is going to charity when he dies.

Well when the fuck is he gonna die? It's doing no good until then buddy. 

What is it with the Buffetts, the Gates', the Bezos' etc and hoarding these insane amounts of wealth that nobody could ever spend in one lifetime? 

Is it a dick-measuring contest amongst a bunch of guys with Napoleon complexes who never got laid in high school or college, got picked on and now want to flex on their enemies? Do they look at the Forbes Billionaire List like a leaderboard and compete to be higher than their rivals? 

I'm honestly curious.

Next up is Elon Musk.

FREDERIC J. BROWN. Getty Images.

Elon Musk is outside of the regular tax system. He gets paid when he wants to get paid. He uses his companies like a bank account and pays himself at the time and place of his choosing. If you can imagine arranging your affairs so that you can control when income comes in, that gives you an enormous amount of leeway over your taxable income.

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Whatever. Guy is an alien and aliens probably have zero concept of taxes anyway. 

Next.

Carl Icahn.

Neilson Barnard. Getty Images.

Carl was great. He was incredibly charming and was totally perplexed by the concept of needing to pay taxes. 'If you don't have income, you don't pay taxes.' He was very amusing." - discussing how billionaire investor Carl Icahn declared $500 million of income between 2016 and 2017, but reduced his taxable income to zero by borrowing against his assets to boost his investment returns, then deducting the interest costs of the loans.

Overlord Jeff Bezos

Alex Wong. Getty Images.

Consider Bezos’ 2007, one of the years he paid zero in federal income taxes. Amazon’s stock more than doubled. Bezos’ fortune leapt $3.8 billion, according to Forbes, whose wealth estimates are widely cited. How did a person enjoying that sort of wealth explosion end up paying no income tax?

Jeff BezosAmazon.com Inc.2014-2018 Wealth Growth:$99.0BTotal Income Reported:$4.22B (4.26% of wealth)Total Taxes Paid:$973M (0.98% of wealth)

In that year, Bezos, who filed his taxes jointly with his then-wife, MacKenzie Scott, reported a paltry (for him) $46 million in income, largely from interest and dividend payments on outside investments. He was able to offset every penny he earned with losses from side investments and various deductions, like interest expenses on debts and the vague catchall category of “other expenses.”

In 2011, a year in which his wealth held roughly steady at $18 billion, Bezos filed a tax return reporting he lost money — his income that year was more than offset by investment losses. What’s more, because, according to the tax law, he made so little, he even claimed and received a $4,000 tax credit for his children.

His tax avoidance is even more striking if you examine 2006 to 2018, a period for which ProPublica has complete data. Bezos’ wealth increased by $127 billion, according to Forbes, but he reported a total of $6.5 billion in income. The $1.4 billion he paid in personal federal taxes is a massive number — yet it amounts to a 1.1% true tax rate on the rise in his fortune.

Yes I understand that just because he's valued at hundred of billions of dollars doesn't mean he's liquid. Doesn't matter. This graph really puts into perspective just how large a disparity there is between uber-rich assholes like Bezos and average Americans struggling to get by-

Depressing stuff.

Especially when you consider this guys ex-wife is out here going Brewsters Millions on every charity she can find with her divorce settlement while Jeffrey is celebrating his mid-life crisis by splurging on a rocket ship to space.

Hopefully the ship gets stuck up there.

George Soros

Sean Gallup. Getty Images.

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A spokesman for Soros said in a statement: “Between 2016 and 2018 George Soros lost money on his investments, therefore he did not owe federal income taxes in those years. Mr. Soros has long supported higher taxes for wealthy Americans.”

Classic Soros. 

Lizard people gonna lizard people.

Michael Bloomberg

Oli Scarff. Getty Images.

"Bloomberg said it's a violation of his privacy, which was an interesting statement for a person who runs one of the most important media companies in America." - on Michael Bloomberg's response to ProPublica publishing details of his tax returns.

(sidebar - wasn't Bloomberg one of the people screaming the loudest at Trump to release his tax returns?)

What I really love about guys like Bloomberg, that dodge taxes, and then run for office on the platform of "hey all you hard-working idiots out there, people like me should be paying more taxes! So vote for me and I promise I will make that happen"

I'd call him the idiot for thinking the public is that stupid, but I think we actually are.

The sad news about this report is that its the tip of the iceberg…

Propublica is planning an entire series of these highlighting different people-

"We have thousands of people. We're going to be doing stories all year on various aspects of it. And we'll name many, many more people, but only in what we consider to be responsible ways that are in the public interest."

In closing, I'm not anti-capitalist. I'm not a socialist. I believe that Scrooge McDucking it in pools of your own money should be the dream of every hard-working American and their right. 

But we are bazillions of dollars in debt as a country. The model is broken and beyond repair. Corrupt bankers took down our entire system in 2008 and not only got away with it, but got bailed out by we the people! Inflation, aka the invisible tax, is going through the roof and the dollar isn't going as far (did it ever) for average working folks that it used to. 

This news that not only are the richest of the rich not paying their fair share, but are taking advantage of every possible angle in the system possible and paying ZERO is absolutely disgusting.

These clowns have no problem paying hundreds of thousands of dollars to belong to country clubs and who knows what other secret societies. It's time they pay the fuck up into the system that has allowed them to generate their insane wealth. 

Paying taxes is a sign of success. As fucked up as that is to say. Paying more in taxes should be a badge of honor these guys wear and flaunt like they do all their stupid pet projects. Not something they spend millions of dollars on lobbying, CPA and attorney fees, to avoid. 

I'm at 3000 words so I'll wrap it up with a quote from the GOAT George Carlin.

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