ProPublica finds collection of billionaires’ tax data from unknown source
Some critics are pointing to another example of Big Tech applying double standards, when Twitter allowed ProPublica to share its story of a secret trove of Internal Revenue Service data on some of the world’s wealthiest people.
While Twitter barred users from sharing the New York Post story on an email purportedly published from Hunter Biden’s laptop, ProPublica did not face similar consequences, given the illegally leaked private Despite sharing the information. IRS Commissioner Charles Ratig told lawmakers Tuesday that an investigation was underway to see if it was obtained illegally, such as from an IRS employee or someone who hacked the tax agency.
The ProPublica report revealed what it called the low “true tax rate” in the US paid by the world’s wealthiest people, such as Warren Buffett (0.1 percent), Jeff Bezos (0.98 percent), and Elon Musk (3.27 percent). . It cited “an anonymous source who provided us with a vast amount of information about the ultra-rich, everything from taxes to income they reported on profits from their stock trades.” The outlet did not disclose its source and only indicated that it received unsolicited information “in raw form”.
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“Many will ask about the ethics of publishing such private data. We are doing so – quite selectively and carefully – because we believe it serves the public interest in fundamental ways, Thereby allowing readers to see hitherto hidden patterns,” the left-leaning nonprofit reported.
While the story was shared without action from Twitter this week, Twitter took the unprecedented step in October to block or limit users from sharing the New York Post story on the alleged contents of Hunter Biden’s laptop. Twitter said it violated the company’s policy against sharing the hacked content. In another statement, it said the articles in the Post “contain personal and private information — such as email addresses and phone numbers — that violate our rules.” Twitter also shut down Post’s account and lifted the ban only after a week-long standoff.
Facebook also limited sharing of the post’s laptop articles at the time, citing factual concerns. The Big Tech maneuver came just weeks before Joe Biden defeated Donald Trump in the 2020 presidential election.
A Twitter spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment.
Andy Grewal, a law professor at the University of Iowa, wondered Tuesday “on what grounds BigTech should have censored the NYPost story on Hunter Biden’s email but allowed the ProPublica tax report to be shared free.” He assured the followers that he did not feel that either should be suppressed.
ProPublica promoted the story as a coming-of-age story at a politically “critical moment”, drawing attention to President Biden’s desire to increase taxes on the wealthy.
“Wealth inequality has become one of the defining issues of our era. The president and Congress are considering the most ambitious tax hike in decades on high-income people.”
The Wall Street Journal’s Bill McGurn told “The Faulkner Focus” that the leak of tax data on the wealthy may be linked to Democrat policy initiatives.
“It’s really seedy,” he said. “Leaking or hacking confidential information is also a crime, and doing it for political purposes is truly abhorrent.”
Journalist Jeryl Beer said the ProPublica piece “uses illegally leaked private information of citizens to make ideological and political points.”
Conservative writer Ed Morrissey wrote in HotAir that ProPublica enabled an illegal leak by wealthy entrepreneurs to “expose legal behavior”.
The story’s revelations did not impress some readers.
Journalist James Surovicki tweeted, “I’m not sure it was worth it to whoever leaked it primarily to reveal that you don’t pay capital gains tax on shares unless you own them. Don’t sell.”
Washington Post columnist Megan McCardley also thought the story would be more revealing. Instead, he also wondered how ProPublica got the data.
“It turns out that billionaires are pretty good at reducing their taxable income. Who knew?” The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board asked sarcastically.