News and Commentary

ProPublica’s Story About Billionaires Allegedly Not Paying Enough Taxes Ignored Website’s Major Donors

   DailyWire.com
Emerson Collective Founder and President Laurene Powell Jobs speaks onstage during TechCrunch Disrupt SF 2017 at Pier 48 on September 20, 2017 in San Francisco, California.
Steve Jennings/Getty Images for TechCrunch

Earlier this month, the nonprofit news organization ProPublica published what it presented as a bombshell story explaining that America’s wealthiest billionaires aren’t paying their fair share in taxes.

The organization said it obtained thousands of documents relating to the billionaires’ taxes without explaining exactly how those documents were obtained. It is quite possible that they were obtained or provided illegally. As I wrote in a column at the time, no one has been or likely will be held accountable for illegally leaking the documents, because they target a media-approved villain.

As The Washington Free Beacon reported on Monday, the list of billionaires whose taxes were disclosed in the ProPublica report didn’t include the organization’s biggest donors.

“ProPublica documented the staggering wealth of business and finance titans, while emphasizing that they paid taxes to the federal government at a lower rate than many middle-class Americans. Conspicuously missing from the report, however, were details on whether the billionaires who fund ProPublica engage in similar tax avoidance schemes. ProPublica declined to say whether it had obtained tax returns for any of its donors or whether it planned on publishing them,” the outlet reported.

When reached for comment, ProPublica initially said nothing to the Free Beacon about why these donors were left out of the “thousands” of records they obtained. In a follow-up email, however, ProPublica president Richard Tofel told the outlet he is “not commenting on what we have until and unless we publish it.”

“I note that your list of questions seems to involve individuals who have contributed to ProPublica, directly or through entities they have created,” Tofel told the Free Beacon. “I would note that our first story contained information about George Soros, who is similarly situated, but about whom you didn’t ask.”

As the Free Beacon noted, Soros is briefly mentioned in the report, which claims he “paid no federal income tax three years in a row” and included a statement from his spokesperson. Soros, however, is not a major donor, the Free Beacon reported.

“In 2019, the Soros-backed Open Society Foundations gave $353,000 to the organization, the 20th-largest donor. In contrast, the Yellow Chair Foundation, helmed by billionaire and Yahoo cofounder [David] Filo, donated $1.8 million. [Laurene Powell] Jobs’s Emerson Collective gave $4.6 million in 2018, the third-largest gift ProPublica received between 2017 and 2019. Democracy Fund, founded by eBay cofounder [Pierre] Omidyar, gave $3 million in 2017. Over three years, ProPublica accepted donations totaling in the tens of millions from individual billionaires, the family charities of billionaires, or multibillion-dollar corporations,” the outlet reported.

As The Daily Wire previously reported, the ProPublica article makes numerous errors in its report, including misrepresenting “the fact that the highest-earning Americans overall pay the lion’s share of U.S. income taxes, while the bottom half of income earners pay less than 3% of all income taxes” and ignoring other taxes paid by the wealthy, such as sales taxes on their expensive purchases.

Further, the article “compares apples and oranges: Income is not the same as wealth. Your wealth includes the value of your home or car, but you don’t actually see any of that money unless you sell them. Neither do billionaires who own stocks, the price of which could crash tomorrow.”

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