George Soros among 18 billionaires to get stimulus checks during COVID

At least 18 billionaires including George Soros, Erik Prince and the owners of several professional sports teams all received stimulus checks during the COVID pandemic, thanks to tax loopholes that allowed them to declare only minimal income.

Data from the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) showed widespread problems in the system used by the government.

In March 2020, the IRS sent $1,200 payments to individuals who earned adjusted gross annual income below $75,000. A second check, for $600, was issued in December 2020 and a third, for $1,400, was issued in April of this year. 

Yet despite the income limit of $75,000, wealthy individuals still received the money because of clever accounting tools to show negative income.

George Soros, the 91-year-old investor and philanthropist, is among at least 18 billionaires who received stimulus checks. Soros and his son Robert both received checks, and both returned them

George Soros, the 91-year-old investor and philanthropist, is among at least 18 billionaires who received stimulus checks. Soros and his son Robert both received checks, and both returned them

George Soros, the 91-year-old investor and philanthropist, is among at least 18 billionaires who received stimulus checks. Soros and his son Robert both received checks, and both returned them

The U.S. government sent out three stimulus checks, in March and December 2020 and April 2021

The U.S. government sent out three stimulus checks, in March and December 2020 and April 2021

The U.S. government sent out three stimulus checks, in March and December 2020 and April 2021

Soros, an investor and philanthropist worth an estimated $8.6 billion, who has advocated for higher taxes for the wealthy, received two of the three checks and sent his $2,400 back, an analysis by ProPublica found.

‘George returned his stimulus check. He certainly didn’t request one!’ his spokesman told the outlet.

His son, Robert Soros, did the same, a spokesperson said. 

ProPublica found 270 taxpayers who collectively disclosed $5.7 billion in income, according to their previous tax return, but who were able to deduct such massive sums from their tax returns that they listed negative net incomes, and so qualified for stimulus checks.

At least 18 were billionaires.

Many more were multimillionaires, such as Dick Fuld, the former CEO of Lehman Brothers, who is now worth an estimated $250 million.

Since the company collapsed in 2008, he has been running a company called Matrix Investment Partners: The tax losses generated by that company were one reason that he got a stimulus check, ProPublica reported.

When a sked by the website if he wanted to comment, he replied: ‘I’m not interested. Thank you.’

Dick Fuld, who was CEO of Lehman Brothers at the time of its collapse in 2008, also received a stimulus check. He is pictured preparing to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in October 2008

Dick Fuld, who was CEO of Lehman Brothers at the time of its collapse in 2008, also received a stimulus check. He is pictured preparing to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in October 2008

Dick Fuld, who was CEO of Lehman Brothers at the time of its collapse in 2008, also received a stimulus check. He is pictured preparing to testify before the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform in October 2008 

Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private military firm Blackwater, also received a stimulus check

Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private military firm Blackwater, also received a stimulus check

Erik Prince, the founder of the controversial private military firm Blackwater, also received a stimulus check

Erik Prince, a vocal Trump supporter whose sister Betsy DeVos served as Trump’s education secretary, also received a check, despite his fortune from private security firm Blackwater and family money: he’s worth an estimated $2 billion. 

Prince, before his tax deductions, had $5.3 million in income in 2018 and Blackwater received hundreds of millions in government contracts. 

The 52-year-old has denounced excess government spending, saying we are being ‘bled dry.’

Another recipient of the checks was Ira Rennert, an 87-year-old industrialist and investor worth an estimated $3.7 billion.

Rennert’s home in the Hamptons, Fair Field, is believed to be the largest house in the United States, covering 62,000 square feet – nearly an acre and a half.

The 29-bedroom beachfront home, with a 91-foot-long dining room, would fetch around $500 million if it went on sale, according to Crain’s.

Ira Rennert, owner of what is believed to be the largest house in the U.S. - a 62,000 square beachfront property in the Hamptons - also was sent the cash

Ira Rennert, owner of what is believed to be the largest house in the U.S. - a 62,000 square beachfront property in the Hamptons - also was sent the cash

Ira Rennert, owner of what is believed to be the largest house in the U.S. – a 62,000 square beachfront property in the Hamptons – also was sent the cash

Rennert is pictured on October 12 with his wife, Ingeborg, who is the director of the Lincoln Center in New York City

Rennert is pictured on October 12 with his wife, Ingeborg, who is the director of the Lincoln Center in New York City

Rennert is pictured on October 12 with his wife, Ingeborg, who is the director of the Lincoln Center in New York City

Built by Rennert in the 1990s, the house is so vast that property taxes alone are $40,000 a month.

Rennert’s $64 million in income for 2018 was erased by $355 million in deductions, for a final total of negative $291 million. 

Timothy Headington, an oil mogul, real estate developer and executive producer of such films as Argo and World War Z, posted similar figures and received his check. 

He had $62 million in income in 2018, but after $342 million in write-offs, his final result was negative $280 million, ProPublica said. 

Several of the billionaires identified as receiving stimulus checks had used their professional sports teams to reduce their tax burden.

Billionaire film producer Tim Headington is among those ProPublica identified as receiving a stimulus check. Headington is pictured in October 2018 at an AIDS research fundraiser

Billionaire film producer Tim Headington is among those ProPublica identified as receiving a stimulus check. Headington is pictured in October 2018 at an AIDS research fundraiser

Billionaire film producer Tim Headington is among those ProPublica identified as receiving a stimulus check. Headington is pictured in October 2018 at an AIDS research fundraiser

Terence Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Bills, also received the cash. He is seen on October 10, before his team's game against the Kansas City Chiefs

Terence Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Bills, also received the cash. He is seen on October 10, before his team's game against the Kansas City Chiefs

Terence Pegula, owner of the Buffalo Bills, also received the cash. He is seen on October 10, before his team’s game against the Kansas City Chiefs

Glen Taylor, who owned the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team, is pictured in November 2017

Glen Taylor, who owned the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team, is pictured in November 2017

Glen Taylor, who owned the Minnesota Timberwolves basketball team, is pictured in November 2017

Terrence Pegula, who is worth $5.7 billion and owns both the NFL’s Buffalo Bills and the NHL’s Buffalo Sabres, was among them.  

Glen Taylor, worth $2.8 billion, who earlier this year struck a deal to sell Minnesota’s NBA and WNBA teams for $1.5 billion, was another.

Some billionaires who were not even U.S. citizens, and who lived as tax exiles, received the checks – among them Robert Dart, part of the Dart family, which makes the infamous red Solo cup. 

In 2018, he reported income exceeding $300 million, but deductions left him with a final result of negative $39 million.

Dart and his brother renounced their U.S. citizenship decades ago to take advantage of a then-existing tax break available for ex-patriates. 

Dart filed his U.S. tax return from an address in the Cayman Islands, but got a stimulus payment just the same.

He, like George and Robert Soros, returned the check. 

‘Mr. Dart believes that people in his position should not have received COVID stimulus funds,’ a spokesman told 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.’

Joseph DiMenna and his wife Diana, a Broadway producer, are pictured in May 2016 at the Lincoln Center

Joseph DiMenna and his wife Diana, a Broadway producer, are pictured in May 2016 at the Lincoln Center

Joseph DiMenna and his wife Diana, a Broadway producer, are pictured in May 2016 at the Lincoln Center

Joseph DiMenna, a partner in the Zweig-DiMenna hedge fund and well-known polo player and philanthropist, also received a check; as did Forrest Preston, the founder of Life Care Centers of America, who is worth an estimated $1.2 billion.

Woodley Hunt, the senior chairman of Hunt Companies, a family-owned firm that is one of the country’s largest owners of multifamily properties, also declared negative income.

Sen. Ron Wyden, a Democrat from Oregon who currently chairs the Senate Finance Committee, said the analysis provided yet more evidence of the urgency of tax reform, to prevent billionaires from using tax loopholes.

‘The tax code is simply not equipped to tax billionaires fairly, or even ensure they pay anything at all,’ he said. 

Link hienalouca.com

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