Stimulus Checks: At Least 18 Billionaires Got Federal Aid Payments, Report Says – Community News
Stimulus Check

Stimulus Checks: At Least 18 Billionaires Got Federal Aid Payments, Report Says

At least 18 billionaires — and hundreds of other ultra-wealthy individuals — received federal stimulus checks, even though the payments were intended to help poor and middle-income households the economic crisis of the pandemic, according to a new report from ProPublica.

About 270 wealthy people received payments in the first round of stimulus checks led by lawmakers in 2020, despite a total of $5.7 billion in revenue, according to the report, which cited a wealth of IRS data on thousands of the wealthiest individuals in the United States. the land, ProPublica said it had been given.

These wealthy taxpayers received incentive checks after using complex tax deductions to reduce their net incomes to less than zero, making them eligible for the checks, the report said. Under the law, the full payments of $1,200 per single taxpayer and $2,400 for married couples were available only to singles earning less than $75,000 or couples with incomes less than $150,000.

Among the billionaires who received stimulus checks are philanthropist George Soros, worth $7.5 billion, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index, and financier Ira Rennert, worth $3.7 billion, the report said. Rennert did not respond to questions, ProPublica said.

A representative for Soros said he received a check from the US government as part of the CARES law. “He did not ask for the money or take any other action to obtain it. He immediately returned the check,” the representative said in an email to CBS MoneyWatch.

Of course, most of the stimulus payments were aimed at households that were legitimately eligible for the checks, but the fact that billionaires received the aid underscores how differently the US tax system works for the ultra-wealthy. The 270 wealthy people who got the checks certainly weren’t asking for the payments — the IRS automatically sent the aid to anyone it thought was eligible for income.

It may seem mind-boggling that a billionaire could qualify for a $1,200 check from an incentive program with an income threshold of $75,000 per single taxpayer. But because these billionaires used write-offs, deductions, and other loopholes to minimize their income, they appeared to the IRS to have a net income of less than zero, making them eligible for the payments.

“This shame is why we need real tax reforms,” the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-wing think tank, said on Twitter of the findings.

The ProPublica report comes as some Democratic lawmakers push for a tax on billionaires, arguing that the country’s wealthiest citizens should pay more fairly. During the pandemic, the collective wealth of America’s roughly 700 billionaires increased by $2 trillion, thanks to a surge in stock prices and the value of other assets, according to Americans for Tax Fairness, a left-wing group.

The billionaire tax would impose a new tax on capital gains whether a billionaire sold the asset or not. Under current law, a gain is only taxed if it is “realized” when the owner sells the asset and records the profit. Unrealized gains – stocks or other investments that appreciate in value that the investor holds onto and utilizes – are not currently taxed.

But the finding that at least 18 US billionaires received stimulus checks intended for middle-income families reveals how different the current tax system works for the wealthy.

Most people pay taxes on earned income, such as their salaries or income from gig work, which is reported to the IRS on W2 or 1099 statements. However, the ultra-rich have a myriad of accounting tricks and deductions that they can use to reduce their reported income, for example by using business losses to offset income. Those valuable deductions can effectively minimize their tax liabilities — and apparently help them qualify for stimulus checks.

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