Hey, Warren, put all your money where your mouth is

posted at 5:15 pm on November 26, 2010 by Fausta Wertz

Every so often Warren Buffett goes on TV and calls for higher taxes. This from the guy who’s paid, according to Forbes, perhaps less than $10 million in taxes, a tiny percentage of his $50 billion net worth. I say perhaps because, to the best of my knowledge, Buffett has never made his tax returns public.

Buffett is big-business, with his Berkshire Hathaway holding company stock selling (today) at $119,675.00 per share. Berkshire Hathaway has 1 million shares, which means that Buffett heads a company worth more that the gross national product of a few small Latin American countries.

How does Buffett manage to pay so little in taxes? For one, Buffett, who wants everybody to pay for big-spending big government, donates sizable amounts to tax-exempt philanthropies, such as the Gates Foundation. Forbes, again,

He donates appreciated Berkshire Hathaway stock — which costs him pennies on the dollar — to charity, and receives a fat, juicy tax deduction at the appreciated price without having to pay a capital gains tax on the appreciation. (And, note that the money actually sits in his own charitable organization.) He’s saving income taxes with the ordinary deduction so it’s essentially a tax shelter.

He builds up his massive net worth and doesn’t have to sell stock while deferring capital gains. When he does take a capital gain, it’s at a 15% rate, and he lives in a low-tax state.

Buffett has been known to complain that he paid taxes on the lower-rated capital gains rate rather than the higher income-tax rate. Well, play me the world’s smallest violin, Warren.

Mind you, I’m all for capitalism. America is the greatest country in the world because historically it afforded its citizens the ability to legally prosper and live in abundance. What I object to is billionaires who got their own aiming to prevent anyone else from attaining the same, or more, as they.

This latest time around Buffett was on ABC’s This Week, and told Christiane Amanpour that “People at the high end, people like myself, should be paying more taxes”,

The “high end”, by the way, in tax code terms, bunches together anyone making over $250,000/yr, whether you own one small restaurant or Berkshire Hathaway. If Warren were to gift you three shares of BH, he’d put you well over that amount.

Victor Davis Hanson wonders if Buffett has taken to preaching higher taxes in his later years as a form of penance,

Why did Buffett not become an advocate of higher taxes on those who make over $250,000 when he was in his twenties and thirties and desperately trying to pile up his first five or so million? Did he really pay astronomical income taxes at those astronomical tax rates in the 1950s and 1960s or seek to avoid them through capital gains lower taxes and write-offs? Why do so many of these zillionaires chase the dollar almost to the exclusion of all else, and then only when wildly successful in a manner that the other 99% were not, suddenly in the twilight years want to make it tougher on others? Is that the price of penance?

Ann Coulter was saying that she would even support a specific tax expressly on Warren Buffett.

Never mind spiritual penance or IRS codes. To the best of my knowledge nothing prevents anyone from writing a check to Uncle Sam for any amount, be it small or large. He doesn’t need to claim a tax deduction if he doesn’t want to. The IRS is not going to haul him off to jail for that. Correct me if I’m wrong.

So, if Warren Buffett thinks he’s not paying enough, let him show us, in a grand gesture to end all grand gestures, just how much he is willing to pay. He can put all his money – every red cent of it – where his mouth is, and leave the rest of us in peace.

Fifty billion ought to pay for a government program or two.

Cross-posted at Fausta’s blog


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Fifty billion ought to pay for a government program or two.

Yeah. Let the old fart take GM off our hands…

Caper29 on November 26, 2010 at 5:21 PM

The U.S. corporate income-tax rate is 35 percent.
Google pays 2.4%.

This is just theater for leftists and the tax deductions and loopholes matter a lot more than the actual tax rate.

sharrukin on November 26, 2010 at 5:23 PM

Just to add a thought people outside of corporate finance (my former line of work) who don’t think about is this. If Buffet isn’t paying taxes now it ISN’T because of the tax rates! Raising the tax rates doesn’t have any effect on the AMOUNT he has sheltered BEFORE OR AFTER a tax hike. That tax hike hits other people.

Second, Buffet sells TAX SHELTERS among his financial products areas. Higher taxes means more not LESS people buying tax shelters like Life Insurance. Why does Buffet want the death tax back to 55% instead of zero? Well you don’t sell huge policies at the same rate with it at zero vs 55%. I could go but you get the point.

Bottom line Buffet can advocate whatever taxes he wants because it doesn’t mean HIM! OPM!!!

Conan on November 26, 2010 at 5:28 PM

Buffett and these dirtbags:

While the New York Post reported Wednesday that more than 80 percent of Americans believe that keeping the Bush tax cuts is “a priority,” more than 80 millionaires are asking President Barack Obama to “please let the Bush tax cuts expire and raise our taxes.

certainly can pay whatever they think they should owe, but the dirty little detail is only if all the other millionaires are coerced to do it as well.Otherwise, forget it!

cartooner on November 26, 2010 at 5:30 PM

After reading this post, it occured to me that as the US Government itself doesn’t pay itself (ahem) any taxes (someone correct me if I’m wrong), and since it doles out gazillions of $$$ in entitlements, stimulus, bailouts, yadayada…it could–in essence–be defined as a charity, and any payments we make to it could be considered charitable deductions, which we could then, um, deduct.
Crazy I know, but I still think the income tax is unconstitutional and can’t believe there has never been a serious challenge to it.

Chewy the Lab on November 26, 2010 at 5:31 PM

Conan on November 26, 2010 at 5:28 PM

This a perfect example of why the new media is shining so much light in dirty dark corners. THIS is the message that needs to get out. We know it here, but so few do.
Very articulately put Conan.

Chewy the Lab on November 26, 2010 at 5:37 PM

Warren’s wife is a friend of mine. She is very regular and down to earth. You would never know she is married to one of the wealthiest men in the world.

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Can’t there be a tax introduced specifically for these rich Democratic supporters like Buffet, Hollywood, all Google employees and so on? Tax them until they are left with less then 250k a year. Anything below that is theres!

gumble on November 26, 2010 at 5:38 PM

Someone should create a website and get on record any wealthy Democrat calling for higher taxes and have them sign up to write a check to the government.

http://www.raisemytaxes.com

gumble on November 26, 2010 at 5:41 PM

All you posters could do yourselves a favor by noticing that Buffet doesn’t care about tax rates because his income/money isn’t subject to taxation due to shelters/loopholes which would still exist.

It would help if all here understood why the limosine liberals spout sh*t like this.

Because it means someone else pays not them.

Conan on November 26, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Warren’s hypocrisy gets far worse than the above.

He’s a BIG fan of the estate tax. He argues for it on the grounds of meritocracy. I’ll admit it’s a valid point – most conservatives like the idea of a pure meritocracy and the estate tax can be seen to hinder that – however estate tax is also is a huge blow to capital formation and a blow against the wealth creation that provides for all.

More to he point, WB never mentions Berkshire Hathaway’s vested interests in the estate tax:

1. Berkshire’s insurance businesses rake in big life insurance premiums from family owned farms, companies, etc. so that the dead owner/estate can meet estate tax obligations & keep the company in the family.

2. A number of Berkshire’s acquisitions have happened after a private company’s founder died, the estate couldn’t meet the estate tax burden and the company had to be sold at fire-sale prices.

Warren’s a sharp businessman and investor – I find it worthwhile to read his views, annual reports, etc. But you have to keep in mind that he has a STRONG vested interest in the progressive agenda. He’s not just the simple self-sacrificing wealthy guy the liberal press would like to portray.

beancounter on November 26, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Trust funds and tax shelters aren’t taxed. Income is taxed, not wealth. Of COURSE folks whose white guilt is as effete and fat as their trust funds would advocate taxing income.

Fing the F off is a better idea than this.

Sekhmet on November 26, 2010 at 5:53 PM

It would help if all here understood why the limosine liberals spout sh*t like this.

Warren drives himself, in a two year old car. His wife drives a four year old white Chevy Blazer and hit a brick building backing into a parking spot. Knowing her, I doubt she will even bother having the bumper buffed out where the damage is.

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Crazy I know, but I still think the income tax is unconstitutional and can’t believe there has never been a serious challenge to it.

Chewy the Lab on November 26, 2010 at 5:31 PM

I think there are no challenges because the 16th amendment allows for a federal income tax. I’m no constitutional scholar but I’m pretty sure if something’s specifically allowed in the constitution, then it’s not unconstitutional. Unless you are talking about something else.

Goldenavatar on November 26, 2010 at 5:55 PM

Warren drives himself, in a two year old car. His wife drives a four year old white Chevy Blazer and hit a brick building backing into a parking spot. Knowing her, I doubt she will even bother having the bumper buffed out where the damage is.

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 5:53 PM

What does that have to do with anything?

sharrukin on November 26, 2010 at 5:57 PM

sharrukin on November 26, 2010 at 5:57 PM

Just observing that Warren & Astrid are very non-pretentious and grounded folk.
I absolutely loathe his politics, but cannot help liking them both.

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 5:59 PM

It all makes sense when you realize he’s paying the Left a form a protection. He publicly supports them and they keep one of the richest men in the world alone to destroy a once great company like Gillette. He knows the Right will never hurt him but the Left can and would.

TheBigOldDog on November 26, 2010 at 6:01 PM

Warren should be taking public transportation, he shouldn’t even own a private car, why that shrieks of putting his own self interest over the gubmint’s. How dare he think that he knows how to spend his money more wisely than Obama!
Indeed, as the post says, I have written to my papers whenever Buffet opens his piehole about paying low taxes, that he should shut down his foundations, stop taking charitable deductions claims off his taxes, and just write billions of dollars in checks to the US Treasury which will be happy to cash them. Then and only then should he lecture the rest of us about paying higher taxes.
Hypocrites, no wonder Jesus hated them.

eaglewingz08 on November 26, 2010 at 6:03 PM

again, conservatives who appear on tv need to be much more aggressive in calling out tv anchors about softballing their way thru interviews

they should ask anchors why they don’t ask warren why he gave his estate to the Gates foundation instead of the government? we know why tv anchors don’t ask hard questions of lefties but conservatives need to quiz anchors when they appear on their shows.

r keller on November 26, 2010 at 6:06 PM

2. A number of Berkshire’s acquisitions have happened after a private company’s founder died, the estate couldn’t meet the estate tax burden and the company had to be sold at fire-sale prices.

Warren’s a sharp businessman and investor – I find it worthwhile to read his views, annual reports, etc. But you have to keep in mind that he has a STRONG vested interest in the progressive agenda. He’s not just the simple self-sacrificing wealthy guy the liberal press would like to portray.

beancounter on November 26, 2010 at 5:49 PM

Another signer was Ben Cohen, who sells a artery clogging product that costs tax-payers a lot of money in obesity. He needs to keep up a good show to ease the guilt that people when shoveling that garbage in their mouths.

pedestrian on November 26, 2010 at 6:12 PM

June 27, 2007

Warren Buffet Pays 17.7% Tax Rate; His Employees Pay 32.9%
Interesting report from the Hillary Clinton fundraiser last night: Warren Buffet complained that he paid a 17.7% tax rate on his $46 million of taxable income in 2006, while his employees paid an average 32.9% tax rate (his receptionist’s tax rate was 30%).
====================================

http://taxprof.typepad.com/taxprof_blog/2007/06/warren-buffet-p.html

canopfor on November 26, 2010 at 6:15 PM

Warren Buffet is a piece of shit plain and simple. He’s the beneficiary of crony capitalism and Oligarchy by regulation.

wheelgun on November 26, 2010 at 6:26 PM

Sorry for the bad word, thought I was on another sight.

wheelgun on November 26, 2010 at 6:27 PM

thought I was on another sight. site

wheelgun on November 26, 2010 at 6:27 PM

I just hate seeing a friend called a piece of shit, but I suppose he has brought it on himself…

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 6:42 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong but I suspect that Warren has never soiled his hands with honest toil. He’s done very well as a paper shuffler and as such has never contributed much to society.
His wealth gives him a platform to preach to the unwashed.
Shut up or pay up Warren.

countrybumpkin on November 26, 2010 at 6:48 PM

As I’ve posted before, here and elsewhere: THERE IS NO CAP ON HOW MUCH MONEY A PRIVATE CITIZEN MAY GIVE TO THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. If Mr. Buffet thinks the Feds don’t get enough of his money he should send in more. The tax code is written by Congress to benefit their friends, like Mr. Buffet. I once heard Milton Friedman explain why the current tax code will never be replaced.

Professor Friedman was speaking as a guest on The Phil Donahue Show, about 1980. Donahue asked why the United States didn’t simply scrap the IRS and the tax laws and go to a flat tax. Friedman explained it this way:

When the average person goes to a job, they produce something. They may be engaged in manufacturing a product, or providing a service, but what ever they did, there were people who were willing to exchange money for an employees time. The only thing Congress can produce is law. And they WILL produce laws that favor people who are willing to pay for laws, favorable to their causes, in the form of campaign contributions. [Case in point- lawsuits resulting from medical issues have driven up the cost of medical care. When doctors and other medical professionals are forced to pay exorbitant malpractice insurance premiums, those costs are passed along to people using the doctor's services. One of the largest contributors to politicians is the Trial Lawyers lobby. No reform.]

If Mr. Buffet has any integrity, he should stop hiding his wealth, declare ALL of income, and pay the same rate of taxation paid by his employees. Unless, and until, Buffet puts his money where his mouth is, he’s just another lying Leftist Sack of Excrement. If he can’t practice what he’s preaching, with all due respect, he should STFU.

oldleprechaun on November 26, 2010 at 6:48 PM

So Warren gets on another show where he gets to preen about how he really really wants to pay more.

HEY WARREN! HOW STUPID ARE YOU? IS THERE A LAW AGAINST YOU CUTTING UNCLE SAM A CHECK?

I’m still waiting for one of the show hosts to show some guts and challenge good old Warren and ask him why he doesn’t just cut a check right then and there for $50 MILLION. Just because he can.

GarandFan on November 26, 2010 at 6:59 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong but I suspect that Warren has never soiled his hands with honest toil. He’s done very well as a paper shuffler and as such has never contributed much to society.
His wealth gives him a platform to preach to the unwashed.
Shut up or pay up Warren.

countrybumpkin on November 26, 2010 at 6:48 PM

Warren worked his ass off toiling in his father’s grocery evenings and weekends in the Dundee section of Omaha while his mother taught grade school. His hands and mop got very dirty.

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 7:10 PM

What is the matter Warren? Are you just too stupid to distribute all of that wealth by yourself? Do you really need the government to take it and make the stupid decisions for you?

mobydutch on November 26, 2010 at 7:11 PM

I hate this thread. I have to defend a personal friend, while abhorring his policies and politics.

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 7:22 PM

He’s a BIG fan of the estate tax. He argues for it on the grounds of meritocracy. I’ll admit it’s a valid point – most conservatives like the idea of a pure meritocracy and the estate tax can be seen to hinder that

Um, no, it isn’t a valid point.
It has nothing to do with whether or not an inheritor merits the (supposed) windfall. It’s a matter of someone having the right to dispose of his own property as he sees fit. Whether his heir is deserving of it or not is no one else’s business. If he is, he’ll make it grow and the community will benefit from the wealth creation. If he isn’t he won’t have it long and it will become capital for others to create wealth with.

single stack on November 26, 2010 at 7:41 PM

Several congressional members, including a Democrat, have tried to pass legislation that would allow people to file taxes and choose to pay a higher rate, just like they do in Massachusetts (where something like .03% of the population actually pays the higher rate). Of course, the legislation cannot even get heard in committee, much less make it on the floor.

But, these big mega money making folks always talk about paying higher taxes, but, never do. Kinda the same way climate alarmists, especially the leaders, always want someone else to pay the price.

William Teach on November 26, 2010 at 7:53 PM

Crazy I know, but I still think the income tax is unconstitutional and can’t believe there has never been a serious challenge to it.

Chewy the Lab on November 26, 2010 at 5:31 PM

Damn right! In order for the income tax to be constitutional there would have to be a passage somewhere in the Constitution along the lines of “The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.”

Oh, wait…

factoid on November 26, 2010 at 7:57 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong but I suspect that Warren has never soiled his hands with honest toil. He’s done very well as a paper shuffler and as such has never contributed much to society.

By directing capital to its most efficient uses Buffet has contributed far more to society than anyone who toils with his hands.
Buffet and those like him create the wealth that those of us who toil with our hands rely on for our livelihoods.
His contribution to society is orders of magnitude greater than the value of any work done by people who work with their hands, skilled or not, or of any taxes he may pay even with the tax increase he’s asking for. I’m of the opinion that people at that level of wealth shouldn’t pay any income tax so that capital for industry can remain in their hands to be put to its most efficient use.
So what if they make “obscene profits”? What do you think they do with those profits and their wealth? Leftists seem to think they hoard cash in a hidden vault somewhere. The truth is that wealth is held in the form of the investments necessary for businesses to operate and to grow which makes the lives of the middle class possible. (that’s us, btw) Those investments aren’t being made right now because the government’s anti business rhetoric and policies give capitalists good reason to believe they’ll be screwed if they try.

single stack on November 26, 2010 at 8:11 PM

Correct me if I’m wrong but I suspect that Warren has never soiled his hands with honest toil. He’s done very well as a paper shuffler and as such has never contributed much to society.

countrybumpkin on November 26, 2010 at 6:48 PM

In the case of Warren Buffet – and I admit this is a rare exception nowadays – he most certainly DID start at the bottom and get his hands dirty. As in “mop & bucket” dirty. It don’t GET much lower than that.

Disagree with his ideas if you will, but don’t call him a silver-spoon boy.

Dark-Star on November 26, 2010 at 8:18 PM

I bet the folks making $250K really hate that Mr. Buffet has set himself up as that tax bracket’s spokesperson.

Cindy Munford on November 26, 2010 at 8:24 PM

Institute a flat tax, get rid of tax incentives for everything in the process and stay ever vigilant in closing loopholes.

Daemonocracy on November 26, 2010 at 8:47 PM

Perhaps Buffett can convince his fellow socialists at Goggle to pitch in and pay their share like the rest of us suckers.

kregg on November 26, 2010 at 8:56 PM

June 27, 2007

Warren Buffet Pays 17.7% Tax Rate; His Employees Pay 32.9%
Interesting report from the Hillary Clinton fundraiser last night: Warren Buffet complained that he paid a 17.7% tax rate on his $46 million of taxable income in 2006, while his employees paid an average 32.9% tax rate (his receptionist’s tax rate was 30%).

canopfor on November 26, 2010 at 6:15 PM

There is a lot of fuzzy math in that statement.

bayview on November 26, 2010 at 8:58 PM

So go ahead and cut the check Warren.. And that goes for the guy from Ben and Jerry’s too….

reshas1 on November 26, 2010 at 9:02 PM

By directing capital to its most efficient uses Buffet has contributed far more to society than anyone who toils with his hands.
I have absolutely no problem with that. Buffett did work his way up, and has created wealth, indeed.

What I have a problem with is his hypocrisy.

Let him open the checkbook every time he opens his mouth asking for higher taxes.

Fausta Wertz on November 26, 2010 at 9:14 PM

What I have a problem with is his hypocrisy.

Me too.
In my posts above I wasn’t defending Buffet per se. I was defending capitalism.

single stack on November 26, 2010 at 9:28 PM

A liberal is someone who is generous with other people’s money and miserly with their own.

College Prof on November 26, 2010 at 10:19 PM

Warren drives himself, in a two year old car. His wife drives a four year old white Chevy Blazer and hit a brick building backing into a parking spot. Knowing her, I doubt she will even bother having the bumper buffed out where the damage is.

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 5:53 PM

Great, O.C., next time you and he meet up at the Westroads Mall or sidle up to one another in adjacent urinals taking a whiz in the men’s room at Johnny’s, tell old Warren that the folks over at Hot Air think he ought to zip it when he pretends to talk for the common man.

The War Planner on November 26, 2010 at 10:19 PM

..or, for that matter, introduce the old gas bag to College Prof above.

The War Planner on November 26, 2010 at 10:21 PM

..but, for the record, O.C., no one here’s blaming you. You have great creds and are admired for your zeal. (Especially during your enthusiasm during the Scott Brown campaign.)

It’s just that old mopped-floors-to-make-a-billion Buffet ought to remember his roots and how the rest of us — denied the luxury of wealth — must still toil under the sun for our daily crust.

The War Planner on November 26, 2010 at 10:29 PM

@OmahaConservative,
I feel a little bad for you.I do understand the predicament of having liberal friends whose politics you completely disagree with, but whose company/friendship you appreciate/cherish.

Even I get riled up by Mr.Buffet’s ——- :=) ok, i am not going to say anything out of respect for you.

nagee76 on November 26, 2010 at 10:47 PM

Dear Warren,
Please remit .01% of your net worth to me and your desires to share your wealth will be fulfilled. (with more impact on my local economy than all the ‘stimulus’ funds have done to date.)

jcw46 on November 26, 2010 at 11:18 PM

Let me help Mr. Buffet out, because he might not know the address to send all his money to.

http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/resources/faq/faq_publicdebt.htm

How do you make a contribution to reduce the debt?

There are two ways for you to make a contribution to reduce the debt:

* You can make a contribution online either by credit card, checking or savings account at Pay.gov
* You can write a check payable to the Bureau of the Public Debt, and in the memo section, notate that it’s a Gift to reduce the Debt Held by the Public. Mail your check to:

Attn Dept G
Bureau of the Public Debt
P. O. Box 2188
Parkersburg, WV 26106-2188

JeffinSac on November 26, 2010 at 11:24 PM

Hey, Warren, put all your money where in your mouth is

Mmmmmuupphh.
That’s better.

Feedie on November 27, 2010 at 12:29 AM

Buffet is a jack off !
Please
cut a check to the US TREASURY.
for what ever amount you want
send it to IRS OGDEN UTAH. and then STFU!

ColdWarrior57 on November 27, 2010 at 1:02 AM

June 27, 2007

Warren Buffet Pays 17.7% Tax Rate; His Employees Pay 32.9%
Interesting report from the Hillary Clinton fundraiser last night: Warren Buffet complained that he paid a 17.7% tax rate on his $46 million of taxable income in 2006, while his employees paid an average 32.9% tax rate (his receptionist’s tax rate was 30%).
====================================

canopfor on November 26, 2010 at 6:15 PM

I’ve often wondered how Buffet avoids the Alternative Minimum Tax rate of 28%.

Xiphos on November 27, 2010 at 8:26 AM

I hate this thread. I have to defend justify a personal friend, while abhorring his policies and politics are selfish, self centered, fascistic and destructive to the country.

OmahaConservative on November 26, 2010 at 7:22 PM

I can never understand how people justify being friends with bad people. hitler loved animals and mussolini was the life of the party. So what?

peacenprosperity on November 27, 2010 at 9:48 AM

Whenever I hear ultra rich people saying we need to pay more in taxes and waste more money keeping big government alive, I think, “hey wouldn’t a net worth tax be a good idea? I mean couldn’t Warren Buffet live on $1 million a year?” But then I think, “Oh, crap, I think a Democrat heard me!”

JavelinaBomb on November 27, 2010 at 2:12 PM

Want to pay more taxes Warren? Then stop taking advantage of tax loopholes and tax shelters! You fraud!

RMR on November 27, 2010 at 3:06 PM

Dear Warren,

Make a check out to the Treasury Department. Make it big so as to assuage your feelings of guilt. Perhaps one or two billion will do for you. Sign check and send it to the Treasury Department, they will be happy to cash it for you! You might even get a ‘Thank You!’ note unlike the rest of us schlubs on 15 APR.

This way you don’t try to stop others from making it big in America, you assuage your guilt and you help out the country. Otherwise your suggestions hit the small business owners the hardest, and I’m sure you don’t want to do that during a recession. Right?

ajacksonian on November 27, 2010 at 3:24 PM

Warren just spent most of his loose change buying a Railroad (BNSF). Why? Because it was way easier than turning it into gold, and it was the quickest simplest way to inflation proof $34B by turning it into real-estate. Inflation (BTW) that is going to dwarf all tax rates, now and to come. Go figure.

Pole-Cat on November 27, 2010 at 5:33 PM