The topography of my state of New Mexico, part of what gives it its enchantment, is not just its many mountains. There are 26 that top out at above 10,000 feet. It’s how many of New Mexico’s mountain ranges rise abruptly from the surrounding, seemingly endless flatland.
That’s a lot like the landscape of American wealth. There is a vast flatland of people who earn less than $100,000 a year, and build their wealth slowly and to that modest scale. Then there are maybe 100 American families whose wealth isn’t measured in thousands, or even millions, but hundreds of millions or billions of dollars. They represent mountains of money, mountains that keep rising higher and higher above the 99 percent-of-the-population plateau.
One reason for this is how they are taxed.
Recent investigative reporting by Pro Publica has shown, in devastating and controversial detail, not just that the very rich are taxed much more lightly than you and me, but how some of the biggest boost-the-mega-rich tax breaks work, and in some cases, how they got written into the tax code.
Justin Elliott has been a reporter with ProPublica since 2012, where he has covered business and economics as well as money and influence in politics. He has produced stories for outlets including the New York Times and National Public Radio, and his work has spurred congressional investigations and changes to federal legislation.
His work on TurboTax maker Intuit won a Gerald Loeb Award for business journalism. He was also honored with an Investigative Reporters and Editors award for a series on the American Red Cross and, with the Trump Inc. podcast team, a duPont-Columbia Award. He earned a bachelor’s degree from Brown University in history and classics.