Buy, borrow & die strategy of the extreme wealthy shows flaw in the tax code

4 The Record

Wealthiest Americans pay a fraction of their worth in taxes

The wealthiest Americans pay very low income taxes compared to what they’re worth and the president of the United States meets Russia’s president.

We covered those topics and more on this week’s 4 The Record with former Iowa State Representative David Millage, a Republican, and former Rock Island Mayor Mark Schwiebert, a Democrat.

Let’s start with this week’s meeting between President Joe Biden and Russian President Vladimir Putin.

We lived through detente of the 1970s, ’80s and ’90s — peaceful coexistence of the former Soviet Union and now Russia.

Details of the meeting are hard to come by, but both leaders called it constructive.

We do know Biden brought up cyber attacks and Russia’s role in them.

Putin denies his country has any involvement.

Biden says the two leaders agreed to work together to keep Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

This on the heels of a report Russia will provide Iran with satellite technology to boost its military capability and track activity of countries like, say, the United States.

Schwiebert and Millage discussed where U.S. relations with Russia should be headed and what can be trusted coming out of the mouth of Putin.

A deep investigative report by Pro Publica recently found billionaires pay a very small amount in income taxes in relation to their wealth — sometimes they don’t pay anything.

Pro Publica specifically refers to Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, Elon Musk, Rupert Murdoch, Michael Bloomberg and Warren Buffett.

One case in point: Buffett.

Forbes indicates his wealth grew by more than $24 billion between 2014 and 2018.

Pro Publica reports Buffett paid $23.7 million in taxes over that time.

That’s a tenth of a percent.

Here’s essentially how they do it: Analysts call it the buy, borrow, die strategy.

First, buy stocks or real estate.

They appreciate in value but don’t get taxed unless they’re sold for profit.

Well, the extreme wealthy like Bezos’ fortune in Amazon stock can leverage his worth to borrow money.

Often the only payments made are for interest.

The cycle continues until death, then the wealth transfers to heirs, often without paying capital gains.

Yes, there’s the inheritance tax. But even that has loopholes.

Let’s point out Buffett and Bloomberg are Democrats. Murdoch a Republican.

We don’t know about the rest of the billionaires we mentioned.

Millage and Schwiebert talked about what should be done about the buy, borrow, die strategy to avoid paying income taxes.

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