Mark Cuban: ProPublica ‘not being honest’ about taxes on wealthy

Mark Cuban, the billionaire owner of the NBA’s Dallas Mavericks, argued that a bombshell report from ProPublica this week did not honestly examine what would happen if the wealthiest Americans were forced to pay taxes on their investments.

In its article published Tuesday, ProPublica looked at more than 15 years of IRS data and found that many billionaires sometimes paid no federal income tax.

“For ProPublica, it makes for great headlines, so its mission accomplished for them,” Cuban said in an interview with Yahoo News published Thursday. “But they’re not being honest about the whole thing.”

Cuban said that while he’s open to paying more federal income tax, the ProPublica article raised but did not answer questions about how billionaires are taxed in the U.S.

“Do you tax net worth or do you only tax income?” Cuban asked. “Because net worth is fleeting. If you go back to the internet stock days, there are a lot of people who were billionaires who aren’t even close anymore and working regular jobs.”

In addition to the challenges of taxing the changing value of investments, many people would have to sell assets to pay their taxes if they were based on investments instead of income, Cuban argued.

For example, he said, some homeowners might have to sell their homes if local real estate values suddenly jumped.

“The only way you’re going to benefit from that financially is if you sell it,” Cuban said. “Should you have to sell your house in order to pay your taxes?”

Ultra-wealthy individuals would be faced with similar dilemmas under that approach, he added.

“I don’t keep cash in the bank. It’s invested. If you tax me on my net worth, I’m going to have to sell a lot — not just a little, but a lot,” he said.

Cuban said he began digging into the potential effects of a wealth tax after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) introduced her high-net-worth household tax proposal.

The legislation, called the Ultra-Millionaire Tax Act, would create an annual tax of 2 percent on the net worth of households and trusts between $50 million and $1 billion and a tax of 3 percent on net worth above $1 billion.

The value of IRAs, pensions, mutual funds and house values could all drop if billionaires had to sell their assets to pay their tax bills, Cuban argued.

“So, it’s one thing to talk about it from a political side, it’s another thing to do it because it makes good copy, and it’s another thing to do the work to find out truly what is fair and what’s not fair. Fair is good. I’ve got no problem with fair, but you have to look at the realities,” said Cuban, who was not named in the ProPublica article.

In addition to owning the Mavericks, Cuban is a host on ABC’s “Shark Tank” and has been floated as a potential political candidate.

However, in an article last month, Cuban ruled out any potential run for public office.

“No, no chance. None. None,” Cuban said about the idea.

Tags Elizabeth Warren Internal Revenue Service Mark Cuban net worth taxes wealthy Americans
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