15 People Who Will Cash in Big From the Trump Tax Plan
Although many things remain unclear about the Republican tax reform plan, we have an outline. The document released by GOP leadership in September had a few points that jumped out at readers. First, the top tax rate (families earning over $225,000) would fall from 39.6% to 35%. Corporate tax rates, currently set at 35%, would see the bottom fall out to 20%.
As members of President Donald Trump’s Cabinet have conceded, these changes to the tax code favor the wealthiest members of society. Six-figure salaries, corporate profits, and estates worth over $5 million do not burden middle-class Americans.
According to the the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy, it would be a tale of two classes. The top 1% (those earning over $600,000) would see an average tax cut of $145,000. Americans earning less than $66,200 would get an extra $1,250. Financial analysts from the country’s top banks predict the plan would add over $4 trillion to the U.S. deficit in the next decade.
So who in particular would benefit from this change in policy? Many familiar faces from the financial pages — and a few from the White House — make the list. Here are 15 people guaranteed to cash in big from the GOP tax plan.
15. Gary Cohn
- Net worth: $285 million
After getting an offer to lead Trump’s National Economic Council, Goldman Sachs executive Gary Cohn abruptly left the investment bank. On his way out, Goldman sped up Cohn’s compensation schedule, so he could reap all future benefits before joining the White House. That $65 million exit, which increased Cohn’s net worth to $285 million, raised red flags among those already concerned about Cohn’s ties to Wall Street.
Cohn ended up writing the tax plan with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Speaker Paul Ryan. Judging by Cohn’s investment income and general compensation, his tax plan would put millions in his pocket. Maybe that’s why Cohn stuck on Trump’s Economic Council despite the “enormous pressure” he felt to resign following the administration’s response to Charlottesville.
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14. Greg Gianforte
- Net worth: $315 million
While there are some extraordinarily wealthy members of Congress, few are worth more than Greg Gianforte, the House Representative from Montana. Gianforte, who was charged with misdemeanor assault for attacking a reporter before his election, carries a net worth as high as $315 million, according to his campaign disclosure. Much of that wealth comes from the $1.5 billion sale of his company to Oracle in 2011.
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13. Wilbur Ross
- Net worth: $2.5 billion
Betsy DeVos ($1 billion) may be in the running, but she’s nowhere near the richest member of Trump’s Cabinet. That title belongs to “King of Bankruptcy” Wilbur Ross, the secretary of Commerce. Ross, known for his skill in carving up failing companies, hopes this plan passes. From his earnings and Wall Street investments, he amassed a fortune estimated at $2.5 billion. Any reduction in taxes for the top 1% would mean a huge windfall.
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12. Donald Trump
- Net worth: Unknown
How much is Donald Trump worth? For the first time in modern history, we haven’t seen the president’s tax returns, so it is impossible to say. However, based on Trump’s financial disclosures, we can suppose his annual income at about $520 million. Shaving 4.6% off the top tax rate would mean great things for someone in that tax bracket. According to one analysis, it would add $757 million to Trump’s accounts over 10 years.
Of course, it could be much more. We’ll only know for sure when Trump’s finances come to light. In the meantime, we’ll have to take him at his word. “No, I don’t benefit,” Trump told reporters in September. “I think there’s very little benefit for people of wealth.” Politifact rated that claim as false.
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11. Carl Icahn
- Net worth: $19.7 billion
As one of Trump’s special regulatory advisers, billionaire Carl Icahn had the best of both worlds. Whenever he liked, he could advise Trump on policy and influence changes in his industry without divesting from his businesses. He pulled that off because he was technically “unpaid” and merely an “informal” adviser.
Once he appeared at the White House, shifts in the stock market boosted Icahn’s worth by $60 million. Work as an unpaid adviser has never been so profitable. (However, Icahn does risk criminal charges for stock market manipulation.) If the Trump tax plan passes, Icahn’s wealth would increase by billions. Bloomberg’s Billionaire Index — our source for all net worths — has him at $19.7 billion as of Oct. 23.
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10. Elon Musk
- Net worth: $21.8 billion
How busy is Elon Musk, the world’s 40th richest person? Between rocket producer SpaceX, Tesla, and The Boring Company, the guy has his hands full. Should Trump’s tax plan pass, his pockets will be fuller than ever, too. Looking at the wealthiest Americans, Musk had one of the best years of anyone, with close to $9 billion tacked onto his fortune in 2017. He might need a new rocket ship just for carrying his potential windfall to Mars.
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9. Sheldon Adelson
- Net worth: $32.2 billion
There are billionaires, and then there’s Sheldon Adelson, the casino magnate who’s the 25th richest person on Earth. Every few years, GOP presidential hopefuls vie for the endorsement of the kingmaker who spent over $40 million on 2016 elections. (Once Trump won, he kicked in another $5 million for the inauguration.) Like any other mega-donor, Adelson expects a return on his investment. Trump’s tax plan would deliver in the form of billions.
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8. Steve Ballmer
- Net worth: $33.6 billion
As the richest sports owner of a U.S. sports franchise, former Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer has close to everything. If the GOP tax plan passes, we’re not sure what he’d do with the extra money. However, we have a few ideas. Considering he stands to add billions to his personal fortune ($33.6 billion), Ballmer might as well buy another team. To be close to old pals at Microsoft, he could buy a ball club, such as the Mariners ($1.4 billion), with the windfall.
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7. Michael Bloomberg
- Net worth: $47.7 billion
You won’t find him on the Billionaire Index, but former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg checks in at approximately $47.7 billion as of Oct. 23. That makes him one of the 10 or 12 richest people alive, and the financial news titan would obviously profit enormously from a tax break to people in the top percentile of the 1%. The only question is how many billions he would get.
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6. Charles Koch and David Koch
- Net worth: $47.6 billion each
Americans see the government in various ways. Billionaire industrialists David Koch and Charles Koch literally take ownership of elected officials. “If you give someone the leadership baton, you expect them to get something done,” a major Koch donor told his peers at a gathering at New York’s ritzy St. Regis Hotel on Oct. 14. With a combined net worth near $100 billion, you can see why the Koch brothers are so invested.
“It’s the most significant federal effort we’ve ever taken on,” said the president of the Koch-backed Americans for Prosperity at the same event, The Boston Globe reported. Though the Kochs did not back Trump, they are pulling out all the stops to win this tax reform fight, which would be their crowning achievement. They stand to gain billions if it passes.
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5. Sergey Brin
- Net worth: $49.1 billion
He may trail Google co-founder Larry Page by a billion or so, but Sergey Brin still ranks among the world’s 10 wealthiest people. His fortune stood at $49.1 billion in October 2017, taking into account over $9 billion added to the pile this year. Were the Trump tax plan to become a reality, there is no telling how much Brin would profit personally, but it’d be in the realm of $5 billion.
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4. Mark Zuckerberg
- Net worth: $74.6 billion
If you asked political journalist Dave Weigel about Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, he’d respond with two words: “He’s running.” All jokes aside, Zuckerberg’s cross-country tour of America last summer sure looked like the groundwork for a political campaign. Pundits will have fun speculating about a possible run, but we are certain Zuck is filthy rich. With a net worth of $74.6 billion, he’d tack on enough to buy the White House and rent it to the next winner.
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3. Warren Buffett
- Net worth: $80.7 billion
While you don’t hear many billionaires (or millionaires) railing against the GOP tax plan, the Oracle of Omaha already expressed his opposition. “I don’t need a tax cut,” Warren Buffett told CNBC in the first week of October. Buffett also criticized the proposed repeal of the estate tax (called “the death tax” in the proposal). The estate tax only applies to individuals worth over $5.49 million.
“It’s not a death tax,” Buffett said. “There are going to be 2.6 million people who die this year in the United States, and there’ll be only about 5,000 tax returns on estates that pay tax.” He might be against it, but he’d also profit the most if the tax plan went through. Buffett could pocket $10 billion, TheStreet reported.
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2. Jeff Bezos
- Net worth: $85.4 billion
Jeff Bezos owns Amazon, The Washington Post, and (after a 2017 shopping spree) Whole Foods Markets, too. What else could he buy? We have no way of knowing where he might set his sights, but we’re certain he’d have the money. If Buffett is any indication, Bezos could have another $10 billion at his disposal.
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1. Bill Gates
- Net worth: $87.6 billion
Like Buffett, Bill Gates did not see how the Trump tax plan would power the economy. “The tech companies are not starving right now, and this only comes up when you have profits,” Gates said in mid-2017. “These companies have very high profits. It’s not like we’re going to be stronger in the tech sector by making owners of those stocks richer.”
Maybe no one would get richer than Gates if the tax plan passed through Congress. He might not think it’s a good idea, but he has 87.6 billion reasons to change his mind.
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