Stimulus checks: At least 18 billionaires received federal relief payments, the report says
Stimulus checks: At least 18 billionaires received federal relief payments, the report says

Stimulus checks: At least 18 billionaires received federal relief payments, the report says

At least 18 billionaires – and hundreds of other ultra-wealthy individuals – received federal stimulus checks, even though the payments were aimed at helping the poor and middle-income households manage on their own. the economic crisis of the pandemicaccording to a new report from ProPublica.

About 270 wealthy people received payments in the first round of stimulus checks instructed by lawmakers in 2020, despite having a total income of $ 5.7 billion, according to the report, which cited a crowd of IRS data about thousands of the country’s richest people, ProPublica said they had got.

These wealthy taxpayers received stimulus checks after taking advantage of complex tax deductions to reduce their net income to less than zero, which qualified them for the checks, the report noted. By law, the full payments were $ 1,200 per month. single taxpayer and $ 2,400 for married couples only available to singles earning less than $ 75,000, or couples with incomes below $ 150,000.

Included 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 noted. Rennert did not answer questions, ProPublica said.

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

Admittedly, the bulk of stimulus payments were directed at households that legitimately qualified for checks, but the fact that billionaires received the support underscores how differently the U.S. tax system works for the ultra-rich. The 270 wealthy people who received the checks certainly did not request the payments – the IRS automatically sent the assistance to anyone it found eligible for income.

It may seem overwhelming that a billionaire could qualify for a $ 1,200 check from a stimulus program with an income limit of $ 75,000 per year. single taxpayer. But because these billionaires took advantage of depreciation, 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 disgrace is why we need a real tax reform,” the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, a left-leaning think tank, said on Twitter about the results.

The ProPublica report comes while some Democratic lawmakers are pushing for one tax on billionaires, and argues that the country’s richest citizens should pay more as a matter of justice. During the pandemic, the total net worth of US $ 700 billion increased by $ 2 trillion thanks to a rise in stock prices and the value of other assets, according to to Americans for Tax Fairness, a left-wing group.

The billionaire tax will impose a new tax on asset gains, regardless of whether a billionaire has sold the asset or not. Under applicable law, a gain is taxed only if it is “realized” when its owner sells the asset and records the profit. Unrealized gains – stocks or other investments that increase in value and that the investor holds on to and exploits – are not currently taxed.

But the finding that at least 18 U.S. billionaires received stimulus checks earmarked for middle-income families reveals how differently the current tax system works for the wealthy.

Most people pay taxes on earned income, such as their wages or earnings from concert work, which are reported to the IRS on W2 or 1099 declarations. However, the ultra-wealthy have a wealth of accounting tricks and deductions they can use to reduce their reported income, such as by using business losses to offset income. These valuable deductions can effectively minimize their tax liabilities – and apparently help them qualify for stimulus checks.

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