America’s 400 Top Earners Pay Less Tax Than You

Propublica continues to mine the IRS Files.

Cory Doctorow


A vintage rec-room with hobby equipment. Its floor is animated gold glitter. Posed within it is a male human figure whose head has been replaced with a money-bag.

Last June, Propublica announced that it was in possession of leaked IRS files detailing the tax affairs of America’s richest people, and that the IRS Files showed that taxes are — as Leona Helmsley famously quipped — for the little people:

The initial reporting described how, for example, private equity raiders were able to debt-finance acquisitions of productive businesses, run them into the ground, pocket hundreds of millions of dollars, and avoid tax as they sprinted away from the wreckage.

A key scam that enables this looting is the “carried interest” loophole, which most normies assume has something to do with not paying tax on the interest you earn from a loan or something. That’s a reasonable assumption, but it’s dead wrong. “Carried interest” is a doctrine invented to make things fairer for 16th century sea-captains, and it has nothing to do with interest on loans.

How does a scam like that persist in the tax code for 500 years? Well, one thing the IRS Files showed is that lobbying for tax-breaks is an incredibly productive investment. Trump’s “big, beautiful tax-cut” underwent a flurry of last-minute…