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Knight Bites: Mind the billionaire wealth gap

A recent report estimates that, collectively, the planet’s billionaires own 3.5% of global household wealth. How do they fare against their average employee?

ceo wealth gap
Illustrations by Amanda Di Genova

The latest World Inequality Report estimates that, collectively, the planet’s billionaires own 3.5% of global household wealth, soaring from roughly 2% at the start of the pandemic. Meanwhile, ProPublica dug through thousands of tax records and found that the world’s richest people have successfully avoided having to pay much income tax at all. Here’s how the tax rates of some of the wealthiest CEOs compared to their employees.

Jeff Bezos billionaire

Jeff Bezos

CEO of Amazon
Net worth:* $201 billion
True tax rate:** 0.10%
Average warehouse worker salary: $31,329
Average worker tax rate (federal):*** 14%

Elon Musk billionaire

Elon Musk

CEO of Tesla
Net worth: $297 billion
True tax rate: 3.27%
Tesla technician salary: $62,520
Worker tax rate: 18%

Warren Buffett billionaire

Warren Buffett

CEO of Berkshire Hathaway
Net worth: $100 billion
True tax rate: 0.10%
Worker salary at Coca-Cola:**** $46,532
Worker tax rate: 34%

Michael Bloomberg billionaire

Michael Bloomberg

CEO of Bloomberg
Net worth: $70 billion
True tax rate: 1.3%
Average reporter salary: $101,664
Worker tax rate: 22.54%

Mark Zuckerberg billionaire

Mark Zuckerberg

CEO of Meta (formerly Facebook)
Net worth: $116.1 billion
True tax rate: unknown
Meta employee salary: $124,000
Worker tax rate: 24.17%

Tim Cook billionaire

Tim Cook

CEO of Apple
Net worth: $1.4 billion
True tax rate: unknown
Apple software engineer salary: $174,369
Worker tax rate: 25.36%

 

*All dollar amounts are U.S.
**To calculate CEOs’ true tax rates, ProPublica compared the federal taxes they paid from 2014 to 2018 to how much Forbes estimated their wealth grew during that time.
***Average worker tax rate includes federal income tax, social security and medicare taxes.
****Top holding

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