Paul Kiel

Reporter

Photo of Paul Kiel

Paul Kiel covers business and consumer finance for ProPublica. His focus this year is on the IRS and its ability to administer the nation's tax laws.

In recent years, his work has helped spur a $135 million settlement by a subprime lender for alleged abuses against service members, legislation in Congressa federal investigation of a high-cost lenderstate rule changes and the forgiveness of $17 million in medical bills by a nonprofit hospital.

Past areas of focus have included the foreclosure crisishigh-cost lending (particularly installment and payday loans), the widespread use of lawsuits and garnishments to collect consumer debts, and the consumer bankruptcy system.

His work has appeared in several newspapers, including The Washington Post and The New York Times. He has also produced stories for National Public Radio and American Public Media’s Marketplace, as well as appeared on This American Life.

Among other honors, his work has been awarded a Philip Meyer Award by Investigative Reporters and Editors, a Scripps Howard Award, a Best in Business Award from the Society of American Business Editors and Writers, the Online News Association’s Al Neuharth Innovation in Investigative Journalism Award, and a National Press Club Award. His e-book on the foreclosure crisis was featured in The Best Business Writing 2013.

Ten Ways Billionaires Avoid Taxes on an Epic Scale

After a year of reporting on the tax machinations of the ultrawealthy, ProPublica spotlights the top tax-avoidance techniques that provide massive benefits to billionaires.

How Susquehanna’s Jeff Yass Avoided $1 Billion in Taxes

The billionaire TikTok investor specializes in securities trades that are taxed at around 40%. A ProPublica analysis reveals how Yass and his partners have kept their tax rates at 20% or lower.

Meet the Billionaire and Rising GOP Mega-Donor Who’s Gaming the Tax System

Susquehanna founder and TikTok investor Jeff Yass has avoided $1 billion in taxes while largely escaping public scrutiny. He’s now pouring his money into campaigns to cut taxes and support election deniers.

“If You’re Getting a W-2, You’re a Sucker”

There are many differences between the rich and the rest of us, but one of the most consequential for your taxes is whether most of your income comes from wages.

America’s Highest Earners and Their Taxes Revealed

Secret IRS files reveal the top US income earners and how their tax rates vary more than their incomes. Tech titans, hedge fund managers and heirs dominate the list, while the likes of Taylor Swift and LeBron James didn’t even make the top 400.

Taking Aim at Billionaire Tax Avoiders, Biden Proposes Minimum Tax for Ultrarich

After ProPublica's Secret IRS Files showed how the richest avoid taxes — often by minimizing income and relying on their wealth — the Biden administration unveiled a plan that could raise hundreds of billions in tax revenues. Its fate is uncertain.

When Billionaires Don’t Pay Taxes, People “Lose Faith in Democracy”

In an interview, Senate Finance Chair Ron Wyden described the effect of the tax dodging revealed in “The Secret IRS Files” and argued that his stalled efforts to make the ultrawealthy pay what he calls “their fair share” could still bear fruit.

A Massive Oil Spill Helped One Billionaire Avoid Paying Income Tax for 14 Years

Phyllis Taylor’s company is responsible for the longest-running oil spill in U.S. history. That’s been a disaster for the Gulf of Mexico — but a tax bonanza for Taylor.

When You’re a Billionaire, Your Hobbies Can Slash Your Tax Bill

Thoroughbred horses, auto racing, massive ranches, luxury hotels. The hobbies and side businesses of the ultrawealthy create huge write-offs that can let them get away with paying little or no income tax for as much as a decade at a time.

These Real Estate and Oil Tycoons Avoided Paying Taxes for Years

Donald Trump and other ultrarich Americans have earned billions, but they’ve also managed to repeatedly avoid paying any federal income tax by claiming huge losses on their businesses.

These Billionaires Received Taxpayer-Funded Stimulus Checks During the Pandemic

IRS records reveal that 18 billionaires and some 250 other ultrawealthy people received aid intended to help middle-class Americans.

TurboTax-Maker Intuit Will Leave Free Tax Filing Partnership With IRS

The company’s decision throws the future of the Free File program, which was created as an alternative to an IRS free tax filing system, into doubt.

Democratic Senators Call for Investigation of Tax Avoidance by the Ultrawealthy

Calling ProPublica’s Secret IRS Files series a “bombshell,” Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Sheldon Whitehouse demanded an investigation into how the rich use “legal tax loopholes to avoid paying their fair share of income taxes.”

The Secret IRS Files: Trove of Never-Before-Seen Records Reveal How the Wealthiest Avoid Income Tax

ProPublica has obtained a vast cache of IRS information showing how billionaires like Jeff Bezos, Elon Musk and Warren Buffett pay little in income tax compared to their massive wealth — sometimes, even nothing.

How We Calculated the True Tax Rates of the Wealthiest

ProPublica started with a trove of private tax data — then analyzed those records, along with sources ranging from Forbes’ list of billionaires to publicly available information from the IRS, the Federal Reserve and more.

You May Be Paying a Higher Tax Rate Than a Billionaire

A new ProPublica analysis of a trove of IRS documents revealed that the richest 25 Americans pay a tiny fraction of their wealth in taxes. But even if you use the most conventional yardstick — income — the wealthiest still pay low rates.

Debt Collectors Have Made a Fortune This Year. Now They’re Coming for More.

After a pause for the pandemic, debt buyers are back in the courts, suing debtors by the thousands.

The Big Corporate Rescue and the America That’s Too Small to Save

Girish Patel doubts his small, 20-year-old shop will survive the pandemic economy. Thirty stories above, aerospace company TransDigm has sustained eye-popping profits thanks to steep layoffs and raised over a billion with help from the U.S. government.

Justice Department Is Scrutinizing Takeover of Credit Karma by Intuit, Maker of TurboTax

The antitrust probe comes after ProPublica detailed how the takeover could reduce competition in the tax prep business.

Different Names, Same Address: How Big Businesses Got Government Loans Meant for Small Businesses

ProPublica found at least 15 large companies that received over half a billion dollars in PPP loans using the same technique: Getting multiple loans sent to smaller entities they own.

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