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How Mark Zuckerberg’s ‘Philanthropy’ Lets Him Stash His Billions Without Paying Taxes

Posted on Jan 27, 2016

By Jim Hightower / OtherWords

This piece originally ran on OtherWords.

Let us now praise “Lord Zuckerberg, The Magnificent!”

Mark Zuckerberg, the wunderkind of Silicon Valley who co-founded Facebook and amassed roughly a gabillion dollars in personal wealth, is now being hailed as a new giant of American altruism.

This started after the tech titan and his wife Priscilla Chan announced the birth of their first child. While delivering what could have been routine news, they announced that in honor of baby Maxima’s birth, they intend to donate $45 billion — 99 percent of their Facebook wealth — to charity.

The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and other media outlets swooned at Zuckerberg’s selfless act: “Philanthropy Pledge Sets New Giving Standard,” gushed Bloomberg. Lost in the fog of media adulation are two important facts: (1) the $45 billion didn’t actually go to charity, and (2) it wasn’t really a donation.


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Instead, as reported by Jesse Eisinger at ProPublica, Zuckerberg slyly slipped his fortune into “an investment vehicle” that he created for himself. Far from being a charity, this vehicle is in essence a get-away car, letting him stash his billions in it and speed away without paying taxes.

That’s not generosity. It’s larceny — a perfidious looting of our public treasury by one of the richest creatures on Earth.

Moreover, despite reaping fawning praise for “giving” the money away, it hasn’t really gone anywhere. His sneaky investment scheme is totally under his control, and he can use that $45 billion to buy his-and-her yachts, a small country, a U.S. senator, or anything else he wants.

In fact, Zuckerberg is so rich he could afford to air-condition hell. If he’s passing off theft as charity, he’d be smart to make that investment.

OtherWords columnist Jim Hightower is a radio commentator, writer, and public speaker. He’s also the editor of the populist newsletter, The Hightower Lowdown.

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