/Billionaire Peter Thiel amasses $5bn tax-free nest egg in retirement account – The Guardian

Billionaire Peter Thiel amasses $5bn tax-free nest egg in retirement account – The Guardian

Peter Thiel

• ProPublica reveals files on other billionaires’ tax-free savings
• Roth IRAs were originally intended for middle-class Americans

Billionaire Peter Thiel, one of the founders of PayPal, has used a retirement account designed to help ordinary Americans save for their golden years to amass a $5bn tax-free nest egg, according to records obtained by ProPublica.

Thiel, a vocal opponent of higher taxes, is one of a number of ultra-rich Americans to use a Roth individual retirement account (IRA) to amass a tax-free fortune.

Roth IRAs were established in 1997 to encourage middle-class Americans to save, tax-free, for retirement. In 2018 the average Roth IRA held $39,108. The proceeds of a Roth IRA are tax-free as long as they are not withdrawn before the account holder reaches 59.5 years old.

Records obtained by ProPublica show that Thiel, 53, placed 1.7m shares of then-private PayPal into a Roth IRA in 1999. At the time annual contributions to the plans were capped at $2,000. The shares were valued at just $0.001 per share.

Within a year, the value of Thiel’s Roth increased from $1,664 to $3.8m. Thiel then used his Roth to make highly lucrative investments in Facebook and Palantir Technologies, according to tax records and other documents obtained by ProPublica. By 2019, Thiel’s Roth held $5bn “spread across 96 subaccounts”.

Thiel, a libertarian who once funded plans for a self-governing private island, is not the only super-wealthy investor to have amassed a fortune in a Roth IRA.

Warren Buffett, who has argued that billionaires should pay higher taxes, had $20.2m in a Roth IRA at the end of 2018, according to ProPublica. Ted Weschler, an investment manager at Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, had $264.4m in his Roth in 2018 and hedge fund manager Randall Smith of Alden Global Capital had $252.6m in his.

Robert Mercer, former Renaissance Technologies hedge fund manager and one of Donald Trump’s richest backers, had $31.5m in his Roth, ProPublica reported.

The latest revelations come after ProPublica revealed that the 25 richest Americans paid a “true tax rate” of just 3.4% between 2014 and 2018 despite their collective net worth rising by more than $400bn in the same period.

Using legal strategies billionaires including Buffett, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk paid $13.6bn in federal income taxes in those five years, ProPublica’s data shows – equivalent to a true tax rate of only 3.4%. Over the same period the median American household paid 14% in federal taxes.

The news has fueled calls in Washington for reform of the US tax code that have even garnered bipartisan support in a deeply divided Congress.

Senator Ron Wyden of Oregon, the chairman of the tax-writing finance committee, is working on a set of recommendations to tackle the issue. “Billionaires are going to have to pay their fair share, every year,” he said recently.













We will be in touch to remind you to contribute. Look out for a message in your inbox in August 2021. If you have any questions about contributing, please
contact us.
Original Source