FBI to probe billionaire IRS leak that revealed Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos paid little to federal tax

·2 min read
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos  (AP)
Amazon founder Jeff Bezos (AP)

The FBI are opening an investigation into the leaking of confidential tax records that revealed that billionaires paid almost no federal income tax, according to officials.

Charles Rettig, the commissioner of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), told a Senate committee on Tuesday that the federal agency was investigating the leaked tax records.

It was followed by the IRS’s deputy commissioner, Douglas O’Donnell, who confirmed on Thursday that the US Treasury “made investigative referrals to their Office of Inspector General as well as the FBI”.

Referrals were also made to the United States Attorney’s Office for the District of Columbia,” said Douglas O’Donnell.

He told a House Ways and Means committee panel: “We fully support any investigation under taken and will urge the investigative authorities to keep Congress appropriately informed of their findings”.

It comes after a report on Tuesday revealed that many of the world’s billionaires paid almost no federal income tax in recent years, based on confidential tax records from the IRS.

The report, by ProPublica, featured the tax records of billionaires including Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg. It was delivered to the investigative outlet anonymously.

Mr Bezos, the Amazon founder, reportedly paid no income tax in 2007 and 2011 and Tesla founder Elon Musk paid no income tax in 2018.

“Our tax system is rigged for billionaires who don’t make their fortunes through income, like working families do,” tweeted Democrat senator Elizabeth Warren. “The evidence is abundantly clear: it is time for a #WealthTax in America to make the ultra-rich finally pay their fair share.″

In a joint letter, a group of Republican senators wrote: “[The] Treasury and the IRS must hold accountable any and all individuals who broke federal law by inappropriately sharing the confidential tax information and tax returns of multiple Americans.”

Additional reporting by Associated Press.

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