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.
Congress outlawed tax deductions on “wash sales” in 1921, but Goldman Sachs and others have helped billionaires like Steve Ballmer see huge tax savings by selling stocks for a loss and then replacing them with nearly identical investments.
The proposed reform stems from a ProPublica story that detailed how PayPal founder Peter Thiel had amassed $5 billion, tax-free, in a Roth IRA. If the bill passes, Roth accounts would be capped at $20 million for high-income individuals.
After ProPublica revealed that some wealthy Americans hold Roth IRAs worth hundreds of millions — compared to $39,000 for the average account holder — Democrats requested data. It shows more than 28,000 people with IRAs worth $5 million or more.
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.”
One proposal would ban the kinds of transactions that helped Peter Thiel amass $5 billion in his Roth; another would cap how much could be saved tax-free in these retirement accounts. But two unrelated bills could undermine those efforts.
Sen. Ron Wyden, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, said he planned to rein in tax breaks for gargantuan Roth retirement accounts after ProPublica exposed how the superrich used them to shield their fortunes from taxes