Jessica: Well, Shelby, one way is through tax write offs. A tax write off helps you pay fewer taxes on the money you earn. It can be something like a donation to charity or if you are a teacher, some of the materials you bought for your class. If you can prove to the government you paid for these things, then you can end up paying fewer taxes. But a new report from Senator Tom Coburn finds millionaires are taking advantage of things like tax write offs. Millionaires are writing off gambling losses, vacation homes and luxury yachts. But it is not just that. Senator Coburn’s report, called Subsidies of the Rich and Famous, says millionaires have received $74 million in unemployment checks in recent years, $9 billion in retirement checks and borrowed $16 million in government-backed education loans for college.
Some big celebrities are enjoying the benefits. Superstar Bon Jovi paid only $100 in property taxes last year on his big New Jersey estate.
Property taxes are based on size, so the bigger your home usually means you pay more taxes. But because he raises bees on it, he got farm subsidies, which is money the federal government gives to help farmers. And that cut his bill way down.
Bruce “The Boss” Springsteen also gets farm subsidies for leasing property to an organic farmer.
“Some of these programs are written so badly that, in fact, everybody is eligible for them and the question has to be — and the taxpayers have to answer it — are we ok with that? Are we ok with millionaires getting this money?”
Jessica: Even millionaires who are out of work don’t have to drain their savings. They can collect unemployment on the shoulder of taxpayers. The IRS reports that in 2009, more than two thousand millionaires collected upwards of $20 million in jobless benefits.
Facing a $15 trillion debt, Congress is considering bills to deny unemployment benefits to millionaires and cut farm subsidies for the wealthy. And some millionaires have been outraged and banded together, calling themselves the patriotic millionaires, and are asking Congress to raise their taxes. They say they want to do their part to help the country get out of debt.