Warren Buffett: Will somebody please raise my taxes?

posted at 6:59 pm on August 15, 2011 by Allahpundit

We’ve been down this road before, again and again, but for some reason this is news today so here you go:

Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot…

I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off…

Since 1992, the I.R.S. has compiled data from the returns of the 400 Americans reporting the largest income. In 1992, the top 400 had aggregate taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2 percent on that sum. In 2008, the aggregate income of the highest 400 had soared to $90.9 billion — a staggering $227.4 million on average — but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent…

[F]or those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

Stephen Moore tackled Buffett’s argument last month that the rich pay less in taxes percentage-wise than the middle class (they don’t), but let’s lay that aside. And let’s lay aside the fact that capital gains are subject to double taxation and that the very rich produce lots of revenue for Uncle Sam when they die thanks to the estate tax. For the sake of argument, if we took Buffett’s advice, how much extra revenue are we potentially talking about here? According to the Journal, letting the Bush tax cuts lapse on households making over $1 million annually would mean additional revenue to the feds of $40-50 billion per year, or … three percent of the deficit. Every bit helps, and if you’re a liberal that’s proof positive of just how little is being asked of House Republicans in exchange for deeper spending cuts, but it’s also a testament to how unserious Democrats are about tax hikes as a budget solution. Taxing the rich won’t solve everything; it’ll barely help solve anything. It’s part of the Democrats’ list demands chiefly for political reasons, so that they have some sort of class-warfare victory to tout to their base when they bargain with the GOP, not because it’ll contribute anything significant towards closing the gaping deficit. In fact, in the clip below, Buffett actually suggests lowering rates on middle-class taxpayers to offset the hikes on the very rich. But why do that if the goal is to maximize revenue? And if the answer is “because it’ll stimulate growth and that will maximize revenue,” then why not apply that logic to the very rich too?

Exit question via Timothy Carney: Does Buffett have a financial interest in making this argument?

Breaking on Hot Air

Blowback

Note from Hot Air management: This section is for comments from Hot Air's community of registered readers. Please don't assume that Hot Air management agrees with or otherwise endorses any particular comment just because we let it stand. A reminder: Anyone who fails to comply with our terms of use may lose their posting privilege.

Trackbacks/Pings

Trackback URL

Comments

Comment pages: 1 2

Buffett, like most everyone in his income range will find ways to make his taxable income a tiny fraction of what he effectively gets by using trusts and such just like the Kennedys do. It won’t effect him.

GE employs enough tax lawyers to see to it that they don’t end up paying squat at the end of the day and he will do the same. I expect he will see to it that little loopholes will be inserted in any tax increase bill and he and his lawyers will be the only ones that will know they’re there.

At a certain point, business becomes a friend to bloated government because they can use it to crush their competitors.

TBinSTL on August 15, 2011 at 9:16 PM

Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.

So what do you think your tax rate should be?

Twice that?

Three times that?

C’mon, be more specific here.

And no offense, Mr. Buffet, but it’s pretty obvious you’re lying out your ass when you say that you claimed zero deductions. Please publish your tax records so we can go through them and see if maybe – just maybe – there’s something more to the picture you’re painting us than marginal tax rate percentages, and absolutely nothing else besides that.

Because, again, it REALLY seems a whole lot like you’re just lying out of your ass about all this and trying to raise tax rates on all the “excessively rich” people BESIDES the tax bracket of one that you personally happen to belong to.

logis on August 15, 2011 at 9:22 PM

Just cut a f*cking check WARREN…. I have no respect for any of these people.

reshas1 on August 15, 2011 at 9:25 PM

If he sent me 100 million has a gift well the taxes on that would be a lot higher than what he pays in income taxes so then he can raise his contribution that way. I won’t mind

Gwillie on August 15, 2011 at 9:26 PM

What a freaking FRAUD group, http://patrioticmillionaires.org/
Why are they NOT writing checks????

reshas1 on August 15, 2011 at 9:27 PM

The left/media get’s everyone totally wrapped around an axis with op/eds like this. The fact that Warren/Gates, etc, etc, etc, don’t leave their estate to the government stands in mute testimony to what they really think about the government…which is pretty much how everyone else feels.

Poseurs all

r keller on August 15, 2011 at 9:30 PM

One tax increase I would approve of. WARREN BUFFETT ONLY–a graduated income tax starting at 97% for the first $100 of income and then increasing.

MaiDee on August 15, 2011 at 9:50 PM

What a freaking FRAUD group, http://patrioticmillionaires.org/
Why are they NOT writing checks????

reshas1 on August 15, 2011 at 9:27 PM

Even if they gave everything they possess it wouldn’t be enough. It would be like trying to fill a bathtub with a drinking glass.

The engine of this country is idle, it’s going to stay that way till we get a pro business President in the white house.

Buffet’s not going to cut a check or the other so called patriotic millionaires, because they know their money would go into a big sucking hole in the ground, and be wasted – we affectionately call it, the federal government.

Dr Evil on August 15, 2011 at 9:53 PM

Buffet is an immoral man, advocating stealing from the productive to give to the parasites.

proconstitution on August 15, 2011 at 9:55 PM

While there are many tax “loop holes” there are even more ways to OVERPAY so why don’t you figure it out and leave me and those who make close to 250 alone!

We already know your not leaving anything behind, like Huntsman who is another creepy arrogant uberich moderate.

amend2 on August 15, 2011 at 9:56 PM

There is a simple explanation of what Buffet is up to. Buffet’s father was one of the most right-wing Congressman ever to serve in the House. Buffet is still engaging in teenage rebellion against his father. I don’t think it is anything more than this.
If you wish to verify my statement about Buffet’s father’s voting record, here’s a link to an academic who has done the research and has appeared on the Ed Morrissey show here at HotAir:
http://www.voteview.com/dwnl.htm
and click the link for “DW-NOMINATE Scores 1st to 111th Congresses.”
Buffet’s father’s name is Howard and he was a Congressman from Nebraska.

thuja on August 15, 2011 at 10:19 PM

Albatros!

ErnstBlofeld on August 15, 2011 at 10:27 PM

If ya wanna be a philanthropist knock yourself out just, do it with your own money and shut up about it.

In fact, if you really wanna be a mench the do it anonymously.

esnap on August 15, 2011 at 10:30 PM

cynccook on August 15, 2011 at 7:02 PM

I’ve been saying this to liberal friends for years. If you think the wealthy should pay more, send your cheque in. Funny how it never makes them think about why that makes them so indignant.

linlithgow on August 15, 2011 at 10:39 PM

You know, for a guy with so much financial smarts, Buffett sure is stupid on this issue.

If he feels so guilt ridden, by all means Warren write a check to the treasury, they’ll accept donations to pay down the debt. But it’s really not about that, is it Warren? You don’t want to see anybody else become as successful as you have become and by making sure the government confiscates more of the income of those who are nipping at your heels, you can make sure they aren’t able to acquire wealth like you did.

AZfederalist on August 15, 2011 at 10:51 PM

First off, you could take the entire wealth of the top 400 billionaires in this country and it wouldn’t make a dent in just this year’s deficit. So taxing them more isn’t about “revenue enhancement”, it’s about class warfare. It’s the SAC’s (SAC is statist, authoritarian collectivist) notion that nobody deserves more than a certain amount of money, and the rest should be redistributed for the “good of society.” As Obama said, after a while you’ve made enough money. Second, the 50% of the population that pays no income taxes is a dependent class. Even if they work hard and make minimum wage, they still use government services, whether it’s national defense or food stamps, but pay nothing for them. That gives them every incentive to demand more services, and that’s what’s bankrupting this country. Politicians pander to them, bribing them with other people’s money. That mass of votes will never permit the reforming of entitlements. When you have a large segment of society that has no stake in their country, you can expect them to be indifferent to that country’s destruction. Look at Britain, where 40% of the people are on the dole and believe rioting and theft are a career choice. Third, the moral argument is that if you earn your money, it’s yours. Nobody else has a claim on it. As President Grover Cleveland said, any amount of tax money the state takes in excess of its legitimate administrative needs is simply theft and extortion. Or, as Thomas Jefferson said, if it is immoral for one man to take another’s property, it’s just as immoral if that man is the government. In the end, if we allow the principle that nobody’s property (and that includes income) is safe from expropriation by greedy bureaucrats and politicians, then the very principles upon which this nation was founded are dead. We were a nation dedicated to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness by each individual. If we wanted to be serfs, dedicated to fostering the life, liberty and pursuit of happiness of politicians, bureaucrats and their clients, we might as well have saved us a revolution. That’s why we need limited government and small levels of taxation. Government and taxes are inversely proportional to freedom. Fourth, when Bush W. found he had a budget surplus, he proposed sending it back to those who paid it. The SAC’s decided that it would be better to spend it on more government programs or redistribute it to “those in need.” There is no amount of money the government takes in that would be enough to satisfy the greed of politicians and bureaucrats. Revenue enhancement would be spent rapidly and we’d find ourselves just as far in the hole as we were before, except the private economy would be poorer and the government ruling class richer. There is only one way to control government deficits and that’s by cutting spending drastically. There’s only one way to bolster revenues and that’s by growing the economy. That takes less taxes and less regulations and creating an atmosphere where businesses want to stay in America and foreign companies want to relocate here. That can be done, but the entire mindset of the SAC’s is to limit economic growth and redistribute what we already have. That such a philosophy would lead to a glide plane into oblivion is not their concern. So Buffet the Buffoon can stick it. He’s a member of the ruling class and his concern is keeping up the apparatus of the state that he was able to manipulate for his own benefit. By the way, I highly urge you to read Mark Steyn’s new book, “After America”, which describes in hilarious detail how the SAC’s are destroying this country. I think it’s deliberate as part of an effort to create a global one world fascist government by leveling America to the same pitiful condition as Europe. Obama said he doesn’t believe in American exceptionalism, it’s probably because he believes America is an impediment to that plan. But that’s just my belief.

NNtrancer on August 15, 2011 at 11:06 PM

Mr. Buffet:

1) feel free to donate as much extra tax to the IRS as you like – no one is stopping you, sir.

2) get the hell out of *my* wallet and mind your own damn business.

Midas on August 15, 2011 at 11:15 PM

I wish, Just once, that when he or any of his fellow billionaires whine that they don’t pay enough taxes, someone would just hand him a printed copy OF THIS FORM and just say “Go ahead”.

LegendHasIt on August 15, 2011 at 11:27 PM

I wonder if people understand that the poor and middle class (under $250K) will be most harmed (by any measure of shrinking disposable income lost to taxes) if GW2′s tax reductions expire? And there’s no such thing as a partial expiration in that new law will have to be written. And that law will look like either a continuation of the status quo or new taxes.
.
The ‘pubs should let them expire until the dems admit that they’ve been lying all this time.

aritai on August 15, 2011 at 11:43 PM

I want to know more about the idiots in his office who are paying an overall rate higher than the highest marginal rate. Imagine how well he’d do if he hired smarter people.

PantsDailyon on August 15, 2011 at 11:59 PM

It’s amazing that a conservative hasn’t stepped up and destroyed Buffet’s empire based on their superior mastery of capitalism. Same goes for Google, Microsoft, and Apple- better watch out…

bayam on August 15, 2011 at 7:59 PM

Google, Microsoft and Apple are not successful because they have a superior mastery of capitalism. They are successful because they provide products, and or, services that people are willing to pay them for.

trigon on August 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM

Google, Microsoft and Apple are not successful because they have a superior mastery of capitalism

The leaders of those companies have clearly mastered capitalism. Building a corporation based on novel products and services worth over $100 bil in less than a decade is not a trivial exercise. In the case of Apple, obliterating some market share of every major hardware and consumer electronics company in the world is the definition of exceptionalism.

bayam on August 16, 2011 at 12:42 AM

Bayam, were still waiting for that link that supports your claim that 95% of Wall Street are Democrats, you lying scrote.

Chuck Schick on August 16, 2011 at 1:51 AM

Bayam, were still waiting for that link that supports your claim that 95% of Wall Street are Democrats, you lying scrote.

Chuck Schick on August 16, 2011 at 1:51 AM

Chuckie, didn’t your momma teach you how to behave in public? I never claimed that 95% of Wall Street pros are Democrat and I doubt that’s even the case. There’s no shortage of ppl on Wall Street that want to may as little tax as possible.

bayam on August 16, 2011 at 6:10 AM

But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office because I chose to take all of my deductions, instead of wanting to pay my “fair share”

Fixed it for him.

Squiggy on August 16, 2011 at 6:35 AM

Tell you what, Warren. Since you’ve never been elected to anything by the public,and have no more right to determine tax levels for everyone else than anyone, here’s what you do:

1. Write your plan down, and release it to the press.
2. Have your accountants figure how much your policy would cost you personally, and release THAT to the press.
3. Write a check to the treasury for that amount, and have a government official who is not for higher taxes for everyone verify that you did.

This way we will know that your plan is meant to cost YOU extra money, and not just your fellow superrich. Only then, when we see your own money where your mouth is, will we begin to evaluate whether it is a good idea or not.

Alternatively, run for office on a higher taxes platform. Until one of these 2 things happens, STFU. Tax policy is for all of us to determine, not you particularly. You want big change? Show us the math and write the check. Then we’ll talk.

Dirty Creature on August 16, 2011 at 7:17 AM

As I’m sure that others have pointed out, he is free to not take credits and deductions and donate money to teh federal gov’t.

That he doesn’t do any of those things speaks volumes about his actual desire to pay more taxes.

What he wants, is not to pay more taxes – like all people support a liberal cause he wants other people to pay more taxes.

He is completely in charge of how much he gives to the U.S. gov’t. He can claim no exemptions, no dependents, no deductions and no credits. He can list all of the money he received in a year as “income” and pay at the higher rate rather than claiming that money as “capital gains”.

Nothing prevents him from paying much more in taxes than he does. NOTHING!

What he wants, again, is not for himself to pay higher taxes. He admits as much by showing that he pays relatively low taxes – that shows that he claims as much as possible as “capital gains” rather than “income”, that he takes all deductions, credits and exemptions. So, that tells us that he wants to raise taxes on everyone else other than himself.

He has his. He wants to deprive others of being able to reach the success he has, and he wants gov’t to help put up those barriers. It is typical.

For instance, Buffet is always against getting rid of teh “death tax”. What he does not tell you is that he made millions, maybe even billions, by targeting family owned companies that could not afford the death tax when the company’s owner died and therefore had to sell the company, often at a discount, in order to raise money to pay the tax. Thus, he profits directly off the death tax. OF COURSE he would not want such a lucrative (for him) deal taken away from him.

these “rich people want higher taxes” stories will be believable when the rich person in question is giving a high percentage of his/her wealth to the gov’t voluntarily. then, I will believe anything they have to say regarding wanting higher taxes.

Monkeytoe on August 16, 2011 at 8:11 AM

It’s amazing that a conservative hasn’t stepped up and destroyed Buffet’s empire based on their superior mastery of capitalism. Same goes for Google, Microsoft, and Apple- better watch out…

bayam on August 15, 2011 at 7:59 PM

What does this even mean? Do you think google, apple and Buffet’s companies pay the most taxes they possibly can or do you think they pay the lowest amount possible?

How do you run a business as a liberal versus as a conservative? What is the difference in running a business? I suppose when they start running the business as a socialist enterprise, giving money to those in need, not keeping profits, not demanding employees earn their pay, then you can claim they are running the business “liberally”. Until then, your point is not just silly, it is insane.

Is your point that b/c they produce a good product (except Buffet, he invests, he doesn’t really produce anything) and their companies are profitable, we should do everythign they say regarding gov’t?

Or is your point that they run their companies the way they spout off about how the country should be run?

Or is your point that b/c a few really successful businessmen are liberal, only liberals have built companies, or have strong companies, or make money?

What exactly is your asinine point? You post this nonsense in every thread, so you must think you have some point? I know you’ve said before that only liberals understand capitalism – so your point must be that there is no such thing as a successful business run by conservatives? Blackwater? Bechtel? Coors? I could go on and on.

So, since we know that it isn’t true that conservatives can’t run a business or be successful, what is your point?

that Gates and Jobs are super-geniuses that should run our country? They are free to run for office aren’t they?

Is your point that business people know best how to run the country? If so, why do democrats hate business so much? Why are they always demonizing business? Why don’t dems ever run someone with business experience for president? Obama has never even had a real job, let alone run a business. Why would you support Obama if you believe business people should be running the country?

Again, what is your point?

Monkeytoe on August 16, 2011 at 8:22 AM

Buffett could always fire all his tax accountants and tax lawyers and just hand over the money. What a jackass.

fleiter on August 16, 2011 at 8:27 AM

Does Buffett have a financial interest in making this argument?

Yes.

Did you know that the life insurance lobby is actively lobbying to restore the estate tax?

Why would the life insurance industry care about that? It turns out that ten percent of life insurance industry revenue is related to the estate tax. Wealthy people take out life insurance in order to reduce estate taxes because when you die, your life insurance payout doesn’t count as part of your estate.

Did you know that Warren Buffett owns six life insurance companies? Did you know he supports the estate tax? You do now.

Warren Buffett isn’t just noted as an owner of life insurance companies and a supporter of the estate tax. He’s also noted as a buyer of family businesses. As Dick Patten shows, these two business strategies support each other.

LarryD on August 16, 2011 at 9:06 AM

Google, Microsoft and Apple are not successful because they have a superior mastery of capitalism. They are successful because they provide products, and or, services that people are willing to pay them for.

trigon on August 16, 2011 at 12:12 AM

Or in other words…capitalism.

Uncle Sams Nephew on August 16, 2011 at 11:25 AM

I am so sick of hearing that crap, WE THE RICH SHOULD PAY MORE IN TAXES. WHAT? fire your accountans then. walk that talk butter cup. Or you can just cut a check to the US treasury, Nothing stops you.
This is all shiney object ploy for the sheeple.

ColdWarrior57 on August 16, 2011 at 12:20 PM

Don’t worry Warren we will end the death tax instead!

MCGIRV on August 16, 2011 at 12:42 PM

Warren, the US Treasury accepts checks and money orders. Knock yourself out!

quikstrike98 on August 16, 2011 at 7:31 PM

Comment pages: 1 2