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

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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.

The Number of People With IRAs Worth $5 Million or More Has Tripled, Congress Says

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.

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.”

How a Billionaire Team Owner Pays a Lower Tax Rate Than LeBron James — and the Stadium Workers, Too

Pro sports teams pretty much always increase in value. But our tax laws allow the owners to claim that their teams’ assets lose value, lowering their tax bills through amortization. The government misses out on billions in revenue. Here’s how.

The Billionaire Playbook: How Sports Owners Use Their Teams to Avoid Millions in Taxes

Owners like Steve Ballmer can take the kinds of deductions on team assets — everything from media deals to player contracts — that industrialists take on factory equipment. That helps them pay lower tax rates than players and even stadium workers.

Eight Takeaways From ProPublica’s Investigation of How Sports Owners Use Their Teams to Avoid Taxes

How do billionaire team owners end up paying lower tax rates not only than their millionaire players, but even the person serving beer in the stadium? Let’s go to the highlights.

Campaign to Rein in Mega IRA Tax Shelters Gains Steam in Congress Following ProPublica Report

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.

How the .001% Use Retirement Accounts as Tax-Free Piggy Banks

A retirement account designed for the middle class is being exploited as a giant tax shelter — legally — by some of the wealthiest Americans. Billionaire tech mogul Peter Thiel, a Paypal co-founder, has grown his Roth IRA to more than $5 billion.

Why You Can’t Turn Your Roth IRA Into a Billion-Dollar Tax Shelter

Unless you have access to nonpublic stock of a future tech giant, it’s pretty hard to turn a humble retirement account into a tax-free piggy bank.

The Ultrawealthy Have Hijacked Roth IRAs. The Senate Finance Chair Is Eyeing a Crackdown.

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

Lord of the Roths: How Tech Mogul Peter Thiel Turned a Retirement Account for the Middle Class Into a $5 Billion Tax-Free Piggy Bank

Roth IRAs were intended to help average working Americans save, but IRS records show Thiel and other ultrawealthy investors have used them to amass vast untaxed fortunes.

Leading Manhattan DA Candidate Has Repeatedly Paid Virtually No Federal Income Taxes

Tali Farhadian Weinstein, who donated $8 million to her own campaign, and her hedge fund manager husband paid nothing (or almost nothing) to the IRS four times in six years.

ProPublica’s Tax Revelations Lead to Calls for Reforms — and Investigation

The Secret IRS Files series has already sparked a conversation about the fairness of the U.S. tax code and raised privacy concerns.

Buy, Borrow, Die: How America's Ultrawealthy Stay That Way

Some of the wealthiest Americans use a strategy called Buy, Borrow, Die to dramatically reduce their tax bills while their fortunes continue to grow. This video is part of ProPublica’s series, “The Secret IRS Files” which reveals, using a trove of never-before-seen records, how the wealthiest avoid income tax.

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