The FBI is investigating a leak that revealed billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk paid almost no federal income tax in recent years.
Confidential IRS tax records of the likes of Bezos, Musk, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg were featured in a report earlier this week by non-profit investigative journalism organisation ProPublica, which received the documents anonymously.
On Tuesday, June 8, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Charles Rettig told a Senate committee an investigation would be opened to find out more about the leak, explaining: ‘I can confirm that there is an investigation with respect to the allegations that the source of the information in that article came from the Internal Revenue Service.’
Two days later, Douglas O’Donnell, the IRS’s deputy commissioner, confirmed the US Treasury ‘made investigative referrals to their Office of Inspector General as well as the FBI,’ as The Independent reports.
O’Donnell said referrals had also been made to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia, and he told a House Ways and Means committee panel: ‘We fully support any investigation under taken and will urge the investigative authorities to keep Congress appropriately informed of their findings’.
ProPublica’s report suggested the 25 wealthiest people in the US paid just 3.4% of their overall wealth in federal income tax, while Bezos is claimed to have paid no income tax between 2007 and 2011, and SpaceX CEO Musk allegedly paid none in 2018.
Other billionaires accused of not paying income tax across various years were Michael Bloomberg, investor Carl Icahn, George Soros and Warren Buffett.
Following the leak, a group of Republican senators wrote a joint letter in which they stated: ‘[The] Treasury and the IRS must hold accountable any and all individuals who broke federal law by inappropriately sharing the confidential tax information and tax returns of multiple Americans.’
Meanwhile, Democrat senator Elizabeth Warren responded to say the tax system is ‘rigged for billionaires who don’t make their fortunes through income.’
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