These Billionaires Received Taxpayer-Funded Stimulus Checks During the Pandemic

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In March 2020, arsenic the archetypal question of coronavirus infections each but unopen down the U.S. economy, Congress responded with uncommon speed, passing a $2.2 trillion alleviation bundle called the CARES Act. The centerpiece of the instrumentality was an exigency outgo to implicit 150 cardinal American households that needed help.

Congress utilized a elemental filter to find who was eligible for assistance: The afloat $1,200 was constricted to azygous taxpayers who’d reported $75,000 a twelvemonth oregon little successful income connected their erstwhile taxation return. Married couples got $2,400 if they had reported little than $150,000 successful income. Money was sent automatically to those who qualified.

Ira Rennert, worth $3.7 billion according to Forbes, did not look to request the currency infusion offered by the CARES Act. After all, his 62,000-square-foot Hamptons location is 1 of the largest successful the country, truthful helium was improbable to get compartment fever during lockdown, fto unsocial person occupation buying food. Nevertheless, Rennert, who made his luck arsenic a firm raider successful the ’80s and ’90s, got a $2,400 cheque from the government.

George Soros, the salient hedge money manager and philanthropist who’s worth $8.6 billion, didn’t request the CARES cash, either. Neither did his son, Robert, himself worthy hundreds of millions. But they, too, some got checks. (Both returned the checks, according to their representatives.)

ProPublica, utilizing its trove of IRS records, identified astatine slightest 18 billionaires who received stimulus payments, which were funded by U.S. taxpayers, successful the outpouring of 2020. Hundreds of different ultrawealthy taxpayers besides got checks.

The affluent taxpayers who received the stimulus checks got them due to the fact that they came successful nether the government’s income threshold. In fact, they reported mode little taxable income than that — adjacent hundreds of millions little — aft they utilized concern write-offs to hitch retired their gains.

ProPublica recovered 270 taxpayers who collectively disclosed $5.7 cardinal successful income, according to their erstwhile taxation return, but who were capable to deploy deductions astatine specified a monolithic standard that they qualified for stimulus checks. All listed antagonistic nett incomes connected taxation returns.

Consider 2 stimulus recipients with likewise immense incomes successful 2018. Timothy Headington is an lipid mogul, existent property developer and enforcement shaper of specified films arsenic “Argo” and “World War Z,” and he’s worth $1.4 billion. He had $62 cardinal successful income successful 2018, but aft $342 cardinal successful write-offs, his last effect was antagonistic $280 million. The aforesaid was existent of Rennert, whose $64 cardinal successful income that twelvemonth was erased by $355 cardinal successful deductions, for a last full of antagonistic $291 million.

Figures similar these uncover a basal information astir the U.S. income taxation system. Most radical gain the overwhelming bulk of their income via wages and instrumentality deductions wherever they can. But the income of the ultrawealthy arsenic revealed connected their taxes tells, astatine best, a partial story. As ProPublica reported earlier this year, the wealthiest taxpayers often person large flexibility successful erstwhile and however they instrumentality taxable income, allowing them to wage a minuscule information of their wealthiness maturation successful taxes. For the ultrawealthy, wages are to beryllium avoided, carrying arsenic they bash the load of not lone income taxation but besides of payroll taxes.

Wages seldom made up a important information of income for the 270 affluent stimulus cheque recipients identified by ProPublica. In total, lone $82 million, oregon 1.4%, of the $5.7 cardinal successful income taken successful by the radical came successful the signifier of wages.

The ultrawealthy person different taxation advantages. Many tin pat a peculiarly generous vein of deductions: businesses they own. These tin hitch retired each of their income, adjacent for years to come, dissimilar different deductions, similar those for charitable giving. Certain industries, similar existent property oregon lipid and gas, are a well-known root of taxation benefits that tin make insubstantial losses adjacent for a palmy business.

The magnitude of stimulus assistance that went to ultrawealthy taxpayers was a negligible portion of the trillions spent via the CARES Act. But the information that billionaires were capable to suffice shows that erstwhile legislators trust connected income taxation returns to find eligibility for aid, determination tin beryllium astonishing results. Asked what helium thought astir billionaires receiving stimulus checks, Senate Finance Committee seat Ron Wyden, D-Ore., responded, “The taxation codification is simply not equipped to taxation billionaires fairly, oregon adjacent guarantee they wage thing astatine all.”

ProPublica reached retired to each stimulus-check recipient mentioned successful this article. Rennert and Headington did not respond to requests for comment. A spokesperson for George Soros, who has advocated for higher taxes for the wealthy, said, “George returned his stimulus check. He surely didn’t petition one!” Robert Soros did the same, a spokesperson said. (The Soros-funded Open Society Foundations person donated to ProPublica.)

Billionaires often reap sizable taxation deductions from owning sports teams, arsenic a ProPublica story this twelvemonth detailed. A fig of sports squad owners were among the recipients of stimulus payments. Terrence Pegula, who is worth $5.7 billion and owns some the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, was one. Also getting a cheque was Glen Taylor, worth $2.8 billion, who earlier this twelvemonth struck a woody to merchantability Minnesota’s NBA and WNBA teams for $1.5 billion. Pegula and Taylor did not respond to requests for comment.

Some taxpayers had capable successful deductions to hitch retired adjacent hundreds of millions successful income. Robert Dart is simply a scion of the Dart family, which owns Dart Container Corp., the shaper of the iconic reddish Solo cup. In 2018, helium reported income exceeding $300 million, but deductions near him with a last effect of antagonistic $39 million.

Dart and his member renounced their U.S. citizenship decades agone to instrumentality vantage of a then-existing tax interruption disposable for expatriates. Dart filed his U.S. taxation instrumentality from an code successful the Cayman Islands, but got a stimulus outgo conscionable the same. (The IRS declined to comment.)

In effect to questions, the wide counsel for Dart Container wrote, “Mr. Dart believes that radical successful his presumption should not person received COVID stimulus funds. Mr. Dart did not petition immoderate COVID stimulus funds. Instead, those funds were straight deposited into his relationship by the U.S. Treasury without his consent arsenic Congress determined that taxpayers with nonmigratory alien presumption were eligible for specified payments. Mr. Dart has returned the COVID stimulus funds helium received to the U.S. Treasury pursuant to instructions provided by the IRS.”

Some of the ultrawealthy person received authorities benefits connected much than 1 occasion. Take Joseph DiMenna, a spouse successful Zweig-DiMenna, a pioneering hedge fund. An creation collector and polo aficionado, helium owns a nine that holds charity polo matches for anti-poverty causes. In 2017, helium received a peculiar payout from his money of $1.1 billion. But successful 2018, without specified a monolithic payout, concern deductions swung his income backmost to wherever it had been successful the years earlier his large payday: little than $0. That entitled him to a stimulus check. In some 2015 and 2016, DiMenna’s antagonistic income besides entitled him to $2,000 successful refundable kid taxation credits, meant to enactment middle-class families with kid attraction expenses. DiMenna did not respond to a petition seeking comment.

Others among the superrich besides received stimulus payments the past clip Congress offered them erstwhile millions of Americans were struggling. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act offered a $400 taxation recognition for individuals and $800 for joined couples. It was called “Making Work Pay.”

Forrest Preston, the laminitis of Life Care Centers of America, 1 of the largest semipermanent attraction companies successful the U.S., is worth $1.2 billion. In 2009, helium got his $400 boost. The adjacent year, helium posted an income of $112 million. By 2018, however, his income had gone antagonistic again, entitling him to a $1,200 outgo successful 2020.

The aforesaid twelvemonth helium received his stimulus check, Preston’s institution successfully lobbied to triumph a taxation break for the nursing location industry. Preston did not respond to a petition for comment.

Taylor, the Minnesota Timberwolves owner, is different two-time stimulus recipient, successful 2009 and again successful 2020. So was Woodley Hunt, the elder president of Hunt Companies, a family-owned steadfast that is 1 of the country’s largest owners of multifamily properties. Hunt did not respond to a petition seeking comment.

For erstwhile Lehman Brothers CEO Richard Fuld, a large wage was a cardinal portion of the $400 cardinal helium earned successful the 5 years earlier the firm’s historical illness successful 2008. But successful caller years, he’s been moving a institution called Matrix Investment Partners that helium acceptable up to put his ain money. The taxation losses generated by that institution were 1 crushed helium got a stimulus check. Reached by telephone and asked whether helium wanted to comment, Fuld said, “I’m not interested. Thank you.”

Another CARES Act beneficiary was Erik Prince, who, earlier deductions, had $5.3 cardinal successful income successful 2018. Prince founded Blackwater, a backstage subject institution that received hundreds of millions successful authorities contracts. He has denounced excess authorities spending, saying we are being “bled adust by debt.” Prince didn’t respond to a petition for comment.

A connection successful the Democrats’ (once $3.5 trillion, present nether $2 trillion) Build Back Better legislation, presently the taxable of fevered negotiations, would curb the quality of affluent taxpayers to study antagonistic income. It would bash truthful by restricting the quality to usage concern losses to hitch retired different types of income, similar superior gains oregon dividends. Instead, concern deductions would lone offset concern income.

The idea, which builds connected a proviso of the 2017 Trump taxation bill, is 1 of the fewer taxation provisions to person survived the caller negotiations — astatine least, for now. First projected by House Democrats successful September, it was past projected to nutrient $167 cardinal successful gross implicit the adjacent 10 years. The proviso was besides included successful a version of the authorities released connected Oct. 28.

Not included successful past week’s draught was a proviso that would person straight affected the quality of billionaires to manipulate their incomes. A fig of the billionaires who received stimulus checks were capable to study antagonistic incomes to the IRS contempt getting richer. A “billionaire income tax” proposed by Wyden, would taxation increases successful wealth. Under the existent system, gains are taxed lone erstwhile they are “realized,” specified arsenic erstwhile idiosyncratic sells stock.

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