The Secret IRS Files

Inside the Tax Records of the .001%

A massive trove of tax information obtained by ProPublica, covering thousands of America’s wealthiest individuals, reveals what’s inside the billionaires’ bag of tricks for minimizing their personal tax bills — sometimes to nothing.

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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.

Help Us Report on the Ultrawealthy and Taxes

Do you have expertise in tax law, accounting or wealth management? Do you have tips to share? Here’s how to get in touch.

Other Entries

“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 Top 15 Earners and What They Reveal About the U.S. Tax System

An unprecedented trove of leaked IRS data shows who reported the most income in America from 2013 to 2018, as well as their tax rates, revealing that the very richest pay lower rates than the merely rich.

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.

The Great Inheritors: How Three Families Shielded Their Fortunes From Taxes for Generations

In the early 1900s some of the wealthiest Americans claimed their fortunes would never last through the generations. A century of tax avoidance later, the dynasties are going strong.

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.

How These Ultrawealthy Politicians Avoided Paying Taxes

IRS records reveal how Gov. Jim Justice, Gov. Jared Polis, former Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and other wealthy political figures slashed their taxes using strategies unavailable to most of their constituents.

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.

The Billionaires Tax Isn’t New

Taxing billionaires on their wealth may sound novel, but the ideas behind it are already frequently used in the tax code.

Proposal to Rein in Mega IRAs Faces Lobbying Resistance From Retirement Industry

Several companies, including one backed by Peter Thiel, are fighting a proposal to curb giant retirement accounts and tighten rules for IRA investments.

ProPublica Wins Gold and Bronze Barlett & Steele Award

“The Secret IRS Files” won Gold and "The Cutting," a Local Reporting Network project, won Bronze in the Barlett & Steele Awards for Investigative Business Journalism

More Than Half of America’s 100 Richest People Exploit Special Trusts to Avoid Estate Taxes

Secret IRS records show billionaires use trusts that let them pass fortunes to their heirs without paying estate tax. Will Congress end a tax shelter that has cost the Treasury untold billions?

House Bill Would Blow Up the Massive IRAs of the Superwealthy

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.

How the Trump Tax Law Created a Loophole That Lets Top Executives Net Millions by Slashing Their Own Salaries

The 2017 tax cuts made it more attractive for certain company owners to be paid in profits instead of wages. Some cut their own wages, expanding a loophole that was already costing the U.S. billions.

Secret IRS Files Reveal How Much the Ultrawealthy Gained by Shaping Trump’s “Big, Beautiful Tax Cut”

Billionaire business owners deployed lobbyists to make sure Trump’s 2017 tax bill was tailored to their benefit. Confidential IRS records show the windfall that followed.

The Inside Story of How We Reported the Secret IRS Files

The ProPublica journalists who obtained the secret tax documents of thousands of America’s richest people share how they conceived of their stories, what readers should understand about the tax system and where they’re taking these stories next.

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