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Must See Mondays: The Best in Investigative Business Journalism
November 8, 2021 @ 6:00 pm - 7:00 pm
Two of the winners of the 2021 Barlett & Steele Awards, Jesse Eisinger and Jeff Ernsthausen, discuss their groundbreaking business journalism investigation that allowed them to uncover massive disparities in the amount of taxes the wealthiest Americans pay each year, especially during a time when wealth inequality has become a national crisis.
Drawing on a massive collection of IRS data, the investigation revealed the shockingly low rates paid by billionaires and the machinations used to legally tell the IRS they make modest incomes while living lavish lifestyles. By focusing on the “true tax rate” paid by the very wealthy, reflecting both their annual incomes and the much larger annual growth in the value of stock holdings and other assets, the investigation showed the impact of the tax breaks that America’s wealthiest earners enjoy.
While the primary information was leaked, ProPublica reporters and researchers spent months vetting everything from Securities and Exchange Commission filings to legal records to confirm that the data was accurate. The team also interviewed a variety of sources and experts to make sense of the millions of rows of numbers and bring meaning to their findings.
“These amazing revelations show just how – and how far – well-known members of America’s super-rich go to slash their tax bills to the very minimum, or pay no taxes at all,” said the judges. “The reporters painstakingly vetted the figures for accuracy, did more reporting and clearly explained the findings with striking individual case studies and creative graphics.
To read more about their work view the their piece “The Secret IRS Files.”
The awards are named for the illustrious investigative business journalist team of Don Barlett & Jim Steele, who have worked together for more than three decades, receiving two Pulitzers, two National Magazine awards and a long list of other journalism awards.