Sen. Elizabeth Warren put Jeff Bezos on blast following a bombshell ProPublica report that found billionaires including the Amazon AMZN, -0.08% founder have often legally avoided paying federal income tax by using loopholes in the system that favor the rich.
When TMZ asked the Massachusetts Democrat what she thought about Bezos announcing that he will be voyaging to the edge of space next month, Warren had this to say:
“Look, he’s laughing at every person in America who actually paid taxes. Jeff Bezos’s trip to outer space is being financed by all the rest of the U.S. taxpayers who paid their taxes so that Jeff Bezos didn’t have to. And Jeff Bezos kept all of his money and used it on a space ticket. Uh-uh.”
— Sen. Elizabeth Warren
Warren was referencing a ProPublica report this week that analyzed confidential Internal Revenue Service data. (The IRS is now investigating the leak of tax returns.) It disclosed that ultrawealthy CEOs including Bezos, Tesla TSLA, -0.04% founder and CEO Elon Musk, as well as Berkshire Hathaway BRK.B, +0.67% chief executive and chairman Warren Buffett, have often sidestepped paying federal income tax in some years, or paid a “true tax rate” much lower than the average middle-class American taxpayer, by recording losses from various investments and deductions that were higher than their income. So they lost money on paper, even though their wealth from assets like stocks and bonds — which wouldn’t be taxed until they were sold — held steady.
Amazon and Blue Origin were not not immediately available for comment. ProPublica said that personal and corporate representatives of Bezos declined to receive detailed questions about the matter.
Read more: Billionaires including Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk avoided paying federal income taxes in some years, report says
Opinion: We should tax billionaires’ wealth to help pay for pandemic recovery
Warren has been pushing for a wealth tax of up to 3% on billionaires, which was a hallmark of her failed presidential campaign last year. And she renewed her calls for a wealth tax this week upon reading the report on billionaires’ income taxes — or rather, the lack thereof.
Warren has also been urging President Joe Biden to cancel up to $50,000 student debt for all borrowers, which would make more than 36 million people debt-free.
Earlier this week, Bezos revealed that he will be one of the first-ever passengers on his Blue Origin space-travel company’s New Shepard spacecraft when it lifts off from West Texas on July 20. The six inaugural crew members will also include the winner of an online auction, and the top bid for the coveted seat was approaching $5 million on Friday afternoon.