Thursday 4 November 2021

Report: At Least 18 Billionaires Received COVID Stimulus Checks

 At least 18 billionaires and some 250 other ultrawealthy Americans received taxpayer-funded federal stimulus checks during the COVID-19 pandemic, including George Soros and his son, Robert, according to IRS records, reports ProPublica.

Both Soroses returned the checks, according to their representatives, but the ProPublica report shows how wealthy Americans use generous tax deductions to wipe out a significant portion of their income.  

Under the $2.2 trillion CARES Act package, Americans who reported $75,000 a year or less in income on their previous tax return received $1,200 in an emergency payment. Married couples received $2,400 if they had reported less than $150,000 in income.

Money was sent automatically to anyone who qualified.

There were 270 taxpayers who qualified for stimulus checks even though they collectively disclosed $5.7 billion in income. All listed negative net incomes on their tax returns using tax deductions at a massive scale, according to ProPublica.

Other wealthy Americans who received checks include oil mogul, real estate developer, and Executive Producer Timothy Headington, hedge fund partner Joseph DiMenna, Life Care Centers of America founder Forrest Preston, Buffalo Bills and Buffalo Sabres owner Terrence Pegula, and outgoing Minnesota Timberwolves owner Glen Taylor.

"The tax code is simply not equipped to tax billionaires fairly, or even ensure they pay anything at all," Senate Finance Committee Chairman Ron Wyden, R-Ore., told the news outlet.

Robert Dart, whose family owns Dart Container Corp., maker of the red Solo cup, also received a stimulus check even though he is worth millions; in 2018 he reported income exceeding $300 million but deductions left with him with negative $39 million.

"Mr. Dart believes that people in his position should not have received COVID stimulus funds," the general counsel for Dart Container wrote to ProPublica.

"Mr. Dart did not request any COVID stimulus funds. Instead, those funds were directly deposited into his account by the U.S. Treasury without his consent as Congress determined that taxpayers with resident alien status were eligible for such payments. Mr. Dart has returned the COVID stimulus funds he received to the U.S. Treasury pursuant to instructions provided by the IRS."

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