How U.S. Billionaires Avoid Paying Taxes

[UPDATE]:

And on the corporate side, big business is laying off workers while using its extra cash to … wait for it … buy back their stock. Job creators, my ass. If business won’t hire, government must. Tax these motherfuckers already.

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Not a shocker, but still:

“The problem is not that people like Warren Buffett pay tax at a 17 percent rate, it’s that they can use complex transactions not available to most Americans to get cash from their appreciated stock without paying any taxes at all,” Miller said.

The rate at which the 400 U.S. taxpayers with the highest adjusted gross income actually paid federal income taxes –their so-called effective tax rate — fell to about 18 percent in 2008 from almost 30 percent in 1995, IRS data show. That’s the tip of the iceberg, since much of their wealth never converts into income on a tax return, McCaffery said.

In the McCombs case, the billionaire entered into transactions known as variable prepaid forward contracts. He received about $259 million for lending an investment bank his Clear Channel shares with a promise to deliver the stock for good a few years later. The arrangement enabled McCombs to defer paying capital gains tax because he hadn’t sold his shares, lawyers for the billionaire said. The IRS deemed the transaction a sale since the bank paid McCombs cash and got the use of his stock almost immediately.

The article goes on to detail several billionaires who utilized this complex tax avoidance scheme to bring in hundreds of millions of dollars, tax-free. I’m just, like, so shocked that these assholes haven’t created thousands of jobs with their personal megamillions. Amazing.

One of these people, Arthur M. Winn, recently pled guilty to making illegal campaign donations:

The developer behind the failed Columbus Center project in Boston has agreed to plead guilty to funneling illegal campaign contributions to Massachusetts politicians as part of a seven-year scheme to win favorable political treatment for the massive development, prosecutors say.

[…]

Prosecutors alleged that Winn orchestrated a scheme in which he and one of his corporate affiliates, Winn Columbus Center Limited Partnership, funneled more than $150,000 in illegal donations to federal, state, and city politicians between 2002 and 2009 in the hope of getting their backing for public funds for the $800 million project.

Pigs at the trough, folks. This is how plutocrats work. They avoid paying their taxes and thumb their nose at campaign laws so they can buy politicians and get taxpayer money for their personal projects.

But yeah, let’s tell Occupy protesters to get a job and take a bath. That’s where the problem is.

[/eyeroll]

This is the kind of shit that has people pissed off.

Note that one of the megabazillionaires ripping off America using these schemes to dodge his taxes is Phillip Anschutz, the right-wing financier behind The Discovery Institute and American Petroleum Institute. See, this is how it works: they dodge paying their taxes and instead of creating jobs with their big windfall (isn’t that what the right wingers tell us they are? Job creators?) they fund conservative talking point factories spreading propaganda denying evolution, climate change, and the like.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “How U.S. Billionaires Avoid Paying Taxes

  1. deep cap

    I really think the OWS movement should start vetting candidates just like the Tea Party did. I’m so sick of having to choose between one millionaire and another millionaire when I’m voting.

    Can’t we have a candidate who is a member of the 99%? Y’know, someone who stop the 1% graft?

    Oh wait, nevermind, I’m just jealous because I haven’t bathed recently and I’m to lazy smokin weed to get a job.

    /sigh

    • Can’t we have a candidate who is a member of the 99%? Y’know, someone who stop the 1% graft?

      As long as elections are won by those with the most money, no. The best we can hope for is to elect a 1%-er who is sympathetic to the needs of the 99%.

      • deep cap

        Is Elizabeth Warren 1%? (Not being rhetorical, I really don’t know. I’m in Massachusetts, so it’s relevant to me.)

    • Yeah I was thinking of her. She’s a college professor. Don’t know what her husband does. I’d say she’s a rare exception to the rule but I’m not really sure if she has money or not. If she does, she definitely understands the plight of the 99%

      • deep cap

        Anyway, I’ve been trying to vote against Kerry for years, but he’s pretty well entrenched. Talk about a 1%er who’s totally clueless. When he got caught trying to “park” his yacht in Rhode Island to avoid paying taxes in MA, it was like when that UC Davis president got caught– totally clueless that people would be upset.

    • themadkansan

      fuck, I wish I had the discretionary income to =afford= weed…

  2. deep cap

    Sorry, I meant chancellor, not president. Minor point. ;-)

  3. “Oh wait, nevermind, I’m just jealous because I haven’t bathed recently and I’m to lazy smokin weed to get a job.”

    And you can’t spell, “two” rite, either, also!

    As for voting against Kerry, remember that allowing a lying piece of shit like Marty Coakley (who used her opposition to Tookie Amirault’s parole as a tool to make herself more palatable to the conservative dems–of which there are a fair shitload in MA) to be the standard bearer is what got Scott Brown elected.

    Kerry is a clueless dick, but he’s less of a dick than any GOPer that’s vied for his job.

    • deep cap

      True dat.

      Also, (GRAMMAR NAZI!) :-P

      • ThresherK

        Coakley/Brown seems a bit like Blowmentum/Weicker to me: Here in the northeast one has to not just figure anyone with a (D) is preferred. Kerry is so much more the preferred kind of (D) than “Midnight Cab Ride” Blowmentum ever was, for my money.

        And Elizabeth Warren has that whiff of noblesse oblige about her. So much more like an FDR than a Mitt Romney or Newt Gingrich that it’s hilarious.

        Of course, I get a lot of laughs from the laundry list of Republicans who are supposed to be RealAmericans(TM) but, once you take out the God, Guns and Gay hatery away from them, have no rhetoric or inspiration left in the quiver.

  4. Jim

    “See, this is how it works: they dodge paying their taxes and instead of creating jobs with their big windfall (isn’t that what the right wingers tell us they are? Job creators?) they fund conservative talking point factories spreading propaganda denying evolution, climate change, and the like.”

    If they are funding something with that money then they are indeed creating jobs. They may not be jobs that you want to see created, but other people are getting money from working at something they funded – that is job creation. The same thing applies when they spend their money on stuff. Private planes, yachts, etc. are all made by somebody. That means the money is paying for jobs at these places. Again, you may not think these are the kind of jobs they should be creating, but they are jobs.

    • If they are funding something with that money then they are indeed creating jobs.

      That’s quite possibly the most retarded thing you’ve ever said over here.

      You know what else is a job? Working for ACORN and Planned Parenthood. Making scrubbers for smokestacks to meet an EPA air quality rule. Somehow THOSE jobs never count though. But working for a DC PR firm pretending to be a policy expert when you’re really just a shill for the fast food industry? THAT’S a real job! Writing a paper about how Intelligent Design needs to be taught in the public schools so Jesus is happy? That’s a REAL job!

      Trying to think what the return on Anschutz’s investment in these conservative talking point factories is compared to an equivalent investment in the real economy. Don’t break your brain trying to figure that one out, Jim.

  5. Jim

    “Working for ACORN and Planned Parenthood. Making scrubbers for smokestacks to meet an EPA air quality rule.”

    I agree that those are all jobs… none of which should be funded by taxpayers and the government. So I am not sure what your point is here. We need the taxes to pay for these jobs that the government should not be paying for?