I mean through undisclosed shares or any other financial ways.

  • Unknown to whom? – BobbyScon Jul 18 '16 at 20:55
  • @BobbyScon to government primarily – user45331 Jul 18 '16 at 20:59
  • @BobbyScon I know this question looks very dumb but is this undisclosed shares in a company reported to government ? – user45331 Jul 18 '16 at 21:02
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    @neo if you are asking about something to be known or unknown to some government, the least effort you could do is to tell which exactly government you're talking about. There are hundreds of governments in the world. – littleadv Jul 19 '16 at 6:20
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    A simple (albeit not too sensible) scenario that does this: You have a huge tract of land in a foreign country that you are holding for ecological reasons--it produces no income. You own this land through a trust in a location where trusts are not required to list their owners. The foreign country sees the land but not the true owner, your country sees the trust but not the land it owns. Nobody can see the big picture and know you have a billion in land. – Loren Pechtel Jul 20 '16 at 23:07

It's possible to be a low-key billionaire, sure. Unknown as in not a public figure, of course. Unknown as in no one including the government has any idea what you're worth, no.

There are tons of private companies and partnerships owned by and invested in by hundred millionaires and billionaires and the companies they own. There will be some paperwork somewhere that this person owns 30% of this company which owns 42% of that company, then through the various tax filings of all the companies, should a forensic accountant or auditor so desire, the net worth of an individual could be closely approximated. This would not be public information.

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    thanks "accountant or auditor so desire" =>forbe's spies. – user45331 Jul 18 '16 at 21:19

Your question can be restated as follows:

Is there any requirement to report an individual's net worth to the IRS if an individual's net worth exceeds one billion dollars?

The answer is no. There is no general requirement to report individual net worth.

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    This is false in some circumstances - for example, your net worth held in the form of some asset types outside of the US must be reported to the IRS. Also your net worth on death due to estate tax, on renunciation of citizenship, and probably in at least a couple of other scenarios. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Jul 20 '16 at 18:43
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    @Grade'Eh'Bacon: Your comment supposes specific facts not contained in the question. And reporting assets is not the same as reporting net worth. I stand by my answer. – Mowzer Jul 20 '16 at 19:12
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    I will point out that your answer also assumes something - that the OP is even American. And other countries have different requirements to report income and assets, which may in some cases (beyond what I've already described) include a reporting of aggregate net worth. – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Jul 20 '16 at 19:17
  • @Grade'Eh'Bacon He said there is no general requirement to report net worth. Listing specific assets which must be reported does not rebut this. – Loren Pechtel Jul 20 '16 at 23:02
  • @LorenPechtel A US citizen [who must file US tax forms regardless of where s/he lives in the world] living in Canada [who must file Canadian tax forms] would need to report (A) All non-Canadian assets to the Canada Revenue Agency; and (B) All non-US assets to the IRS. Therefore, such a person would have declared everything owned (except personal residences and the like) to 2 governments which share information. Such a person will have shared their entire net worth (or, 90-95% of it). – Grade 'Eh' Bacon Jul 21 '16 at 12:47

In theory, yes only from a monetary standpoint.

You list shares, but anything public, like shares, will make it next to impossible to be a hidden billionaire.

A theoretical way of being a billionaire that no one knows the identify of is if someone held 1 million bitcoins (or an amount of an object of monetary value, like an amount of diamonds) and the price of bitcoin was over $1000, but no one knew who was behind that bitcoin address, nor did the person behind the address use the bitcoins. One would be a billionaire that no one else would know of ever only if:

  • The price of bitcoin (or other monetary object) was high enough in value to make the units of ownership be in the billions.
  • The person never used what was owned, as using a bitcoin (or other monetary object) opens the possibility to tracking the identity. How practical is this, though? It's not.

None of that is practical though and what's the point? Plus, the monetary object could crash in value, meaning the billionaire could become a non-billionaire quickly (like Elizabeth Holmes lost most of her net worth after what happened to Theranos).

So it's possible in theory, but it's not very practical.