A recent release of tax documents by ProPublica revealed that a number of famous entrepreneur billionaires (including Elon Musk) effectively pay zero taxes.

Look, billionaires receive vast benefits from living in the USA. They know that a dictator probably won't suddenly seize their money and throw them into jail. They have access to infrastructure -- roads, power, distribution, Internet etc., - paid for by the taxes of regular folk. They enjoy regulations (or lack of same) that suppress competition.

Civilization, in other words.

You'd think, given these clear benefits, billionaires would be grateful enough to voluntarily pay at least as much, in terms of percentage, as the average small businessperson. But instead billionaires create and exploit tax loopholes, thereby letting everyone else to pick up the tab.

There's a word for that: "freeloading."

If I understand rightly, billionaires justify their rampant freeloading on the grounds that they believe they can do more good through their charitable foundations than though tax dollars. Four huge problems with this:

  • Everyone has an opinion about where they think the government should spend more (or less) money. Why should billionaires have their preferences indulged?
  • Billionaires already have an outsized influence on government spending (much of which goes to enrich them), so why should they get to pick and choose further?
  • The government is now going after ProPublica rather than tightening the tax code.  C'mon, shouldn't billionaires be paying for that, at least?
  • Many of the charitable foundations of billionaires are simply tax dodges anyway.

I'm not saying that the Gates Foundation, for instance, doesn't do good things.

But despite all of the Gates's charitable giving, their wealth has exploded during the pandemic. In all fairness, shouldn't they be paying taxes to support the institutions that have enabled them to safely acquire so much wealth in the first place?