From tax write-offs for gambling losses, vacation homes, and luxury yachts; to subsidies for ranches and estates, billions of your tax dollars are supporting the lifestyles of the rich and famous. And a new report from fiscal conservative Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) counts the ways.
Entitled "Subsidies of the Rich and Famous," Coburn outlines billions for millionaires: $74 million in unemployment checks, $316 million in farm subsidies, $9 billion in retirement checks and more. Overall,
Coburn says millionaires have received $9.5 billion in government benefits since 2003, and borrowed $16 million in government-backed education loans for college.
Some big stars are among the beneficiaries. The Coburn report says that millionaires who have collected taxpayer-funded farm subsidies include former NBA star Scottie Pippen and billionaire media titan Ted Turner. The report cites General Accountability Office findings that highlight the need to prevent USDA farm subsidies from going to the rich.
Also in the report: superstar singer Jon Bon Jovi paid only $100 in property taxes last year on his extensive NJ real estate holdings because he "raises bees" on it; "The Boss" Bruce Springsteen gets subsidies for leasing property to an organic farmer. Quincy Jones, who produced the top selling record of all time, Michael Jackson's "Thriller," got a $25,000 award from the taxpayer-funded National Endowment for the Arts for his contribution to music.
Coburn says an award of "prestige" can be given to honor and recognize such megastars; but insists monetary payment is unnecessary -- and now unaffordable.
And believe it or not, some millionaires have been collecting unemployment on the shoulder of taxpayers. The IRS reports that in 2009, 2,362 millionaires collected a total of $20,799,000 in jobless benefits. Eighteen individuals with adjusted gross incomes of ten million dollars or more received a total of $220,000 in unemployment payments that year.