United States
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United States Billionaires Tax Leak, Top 25 Pays 3.4% in Tax Rate from $401 Billion Fortune

12th June 2021 | Hong Kong

The richest United States billionaires personal tax filings had been leaked, including billionaires Jeff Bezos, Warren Buffett, Elon Musk, Michael Bloomberg, Carl Icahn and George Soros, with the top 25 richest billionaires paying an average tax rate of 3.34%. From 2014 to 2018, the top 25 richest billionaires in United States grew their wealth by $401 billion, but paid only $13.6 billion in federal taxes, an average tax rate of 3.34% compared to 14% for the median income tax rate.  (The tax leak did not disclose details on donations, that may have qualify for tax deductions)

“United States Billionaires Tax Leak, Top 25 Pays 3.4% in Tax Rate from $401 Billion Fortune”


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United States Tax Rates, Top Billionaires Paid Zero Tax

New York City, United States

In the United States, the leaked tax filings showed the 25 richest billionaires in United States paid an average tax rate of 3.34%, while the median (50th percentile) pays 14% in federal taxes for earnings at $70,000.  The highest income tax rate is 37% tax rate, for earnings above $523,600.

The United States authorities have launched an investigation into the tax leaks.  Michael Bloomberg, former Mayor of New York and founder of Bloomberg, have also pledged to use all legal means to uncover the source of the leak.


Billionaires Tax Rate
Person Company Wealth Growth Income Reported Tax Paid Tax Rate
Warren Buffett Berkshire Hathaway $24.3 billion $125 million $23.7 million 0.10%
Jeff Bezos Amazon $99 billion $4.22 billion $973 million 0.98%
Michael Bloomberg Bloomberg $22.5 billion $10 billion $292 million 1.30%
Elon Musk Tesla $13.9 billion $1.52 billion $455 million 3.27%
Billionaires Paid Zero Tax:
  • 2007 – Jeff Bezos paid $0 federal income tax
  • 2011 – Jeff Bezos paid $0 federal income tax
  • 2018 – Elon Musk paid $0 federal income tax
  • Recent years – Michael Bloomberg paid $0 federal income tax
  • 2 times – Carl Icahn paid $0 federal income tax
  • 3 years in a row – George Soros paid $0 federal income tax
  • Jeff Bezos, 1.1% in taxes over 13 years
United States Tax Rates
  • The top 25 richest billionaire paid an average of 3.34% from 2014 to 2018
  • The median (50th percentile) earns $70,000 annually and pay 14% in federal taxes
  • The highest income tax rate is 37% earning above $523,600
  • In United States, there is a 20% capital gain tax.  At death, there is no capital gain tax.
  • Estate tax of 40%


Estate Tax

In the United States, there is a 40% estate tax.  In countries where there are high estate taxes, clients and wealth managers will structure assets to transfer assets to their heirs or beneficiaries without or reducing estate taxes.

In April 2021, the heirs and family of Samsung including current Vice-Chairman of Samsung Electronics Lee Jae-Yong will be paying inheritance tax of around $10.7 billion (12 trillion won) for inheriting around $22 billion estate from the late Samsung Chairman Lee Kun-Hee who died in October 2020.  South Korea has one of the world’s highest inheritance tax rates with tax rate at 50%, and more if the estate has a controlling interest in a company.

Read More: Samsung Heirs Lee Jae-Yong and Family to Pay $10.7 Billion in Inheritance Tax from $22 Billion Estate



Jeff Bezos, Founder of Amazon – 1.1% Tax Rate

Jeff Bezos, Amazon Founder with their 1 millionth customer

In 2007, founder of Amazon Jeff Bezos fortune grew to an estimated $3.8 billion and reported an income from $46 million (1.2% of fortune).  Filing taxes jointly with his wife (divorced in 2019), they were able to offset taxes with losses of investments, deductions, interest expenses on debts and other expenses.  In 2011, Jeff Bezos estimated fortune was at $11 billion, and filed minimal income and investment losses, and received $4,000 in tax credit for his children.  

From 2006 to 2018 (13 years), Jeff Bezos estimated fortune grew by $127 billion, reporting $6.5 billion (5.1% of fortune) in income and paid $1.4 billion in federal taxes (1.1%).  

Jeff Bezos is the founder of Amazon and has an estimated personal fortune of $190 billion (June 2021). His family office is Bezos Expedition, and in 2020 manages more than $107 billion of family assets.


Warren Buffett, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway

Warren Buffett, Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway

From 2015 to 2018, Warren Buffett reported annual income from $11.6 million to $25 million with his estimated wealth ranging from $60 billion to $80 billion during the period.  Warren Buffett is the Chairman of Berkshire Hathaway, an investment company, that pays no dividends with the company accruing the cash to find new investments.  (Dividends paid to shareholders are taxable.)

In Warren Buffett’s reply to ProPublica, he ultimately plans to donate 99.5% to charity.

“I believe the money will be of more use to society if disbursed philanthropically than if it is used to slightly reduce an ever-increasing U.S. debt” ~ Warren Buffett



Warren Buffett Philanthropic Activities, Giving Pledge

Bill & Melinda Gates – The Giving Pledge

Warren Buffett is one of the founding member of Giving Pledge, a global philanthropic movement launched in 2010 by Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and his wife Melinda Gates and Berkshire Hathaway chairman Warren Buffett with a total of 40 billionaires.  The Giving Pledge is a moral commitment by the world’s wealthiest to give the majority of their wealth to charitable causes.  Currently, there are 220 pledgers from 25 countries.

Notable names are:

  • Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan ($103 billion)
  • Tesla founder Elon Musk ($162 billion)
  • Oracle founder Larry Ellison ($90 billon)
  • Virgin Group founder Richard Branson and Joan Branson. ($5 billion)
  • Linkedin founder Reid Hoffman and Michelle Yee ($2 billion)
  • David Rockefeller, deceased 2017 (3.8 billion)

Notable names from finance are:

  • Bridgewater Associates founder Ray Dalio & Barbara Dalio ($20 billion)
  • Blackstone founder Stephen Schwarzman ($23 billion)
  • Carlyle Group founder David Rubeinstein ($4 billion)
  • Bloomberg founder Michael Bloomberg ($59 billion)
  • Icahn Enterprises founder Carl Icahn ($15 billion)
  • Tudor Investment founder Paul Tudor Jones and Sonia ($7 billion)

(est. current networth, Feb 2021)


Signers of the Giving Pledge

Signers of the Giving Pledge commit to give the majority of their wealth to philanthropy, either during their lifetimes or in their wills.

To Join the Giving Pledge

To join the Giving Pledge, billionaires will need to have at least $1 billion in personal net worth and and are ready to make a public pledge to donate the majority of their personal wealth to philanthropy.  Visit: The Giving Pledge


Warren Buffett, $27.3 Billion Donation to Melinda & Gates Foundation

Bill & Melinda Gates

Every year, Warren Buffet donates to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The donation started in 2006 with $1.6 billion, increasing every year and in 2019, the donation amounted to $2.7 billion. In total, the foundation received $27.3 billion from Warren Buffet over 14 years.

Founded in 2000, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation reported $49.8 billion of trust endowment at the end of 2019.  Since inception to 2019, the foundation had given a total grant of $54.8 billion.  In recent years, the foundation disburses around $5 billion of direct grant support yearly. (2018: $5 billion, $2019: 5.1 billion).

In 2019, the foundation funded a total of 136 countries.  In United States, the foundation support those with fewer resources, providing access to opportunities to succeed in school and life. Internationally, the foundation focus on improving health, and helping people to lift themselves out of hunger and extreme poverty.


Warren Buffet Donation to Foundation:
Year Amount
2006 $1.6 billion
2007 $1.8 billion
2008 $1.8 billion
2009 $1.3 billion
2010 $1.6 billion
2011 $1.5 billion
2012 $1.5 billion
2013 $2.0 billion
2014 $2.1 billion
2015 $2.2 billion
2016 $2.2 billion
2017 $2.4 billion
2018 $2.6 billion
2019 $2.7 billion
Total $27.3 billion



Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca leak reveals elite’s tax havens – BBC News

In 2016, the leaked of the Panama Papers: Mossack Fonseca, revealed the world’s rich and powerful using tax havens to hide their wealth.






Source: ProPublica has obtained a vast trove of Internal Revenue Service data on the tax returns of thousands of the nation’s wealthiest people, covering more than 15 years. The data provides an unprecedented look inside the financial lives of America’s titans, including Warren Buffett, Bill Gates, Rupert Murdoch and Mark Zuckerberg. It shows not just their income and taxes, but also their investments, stock trades, gambling winnings and even the results of audits

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