Warren Buffett: Have I mentioned lately that my secretary’s paying a higher tax rate than I am?

posted at 10:22 pm on January 25, 2012 by Allahpundit

A patty-cake interview from ABC on the “Buffett Rule,” which will inevitably become the “Romney Rule” unless Newt pulls this off in Florida:

Buffett’s secretary since 1993, Debbie Bosanek, sat next to her boss just hours after being invited by the president to the State of the Union address, where the president made her the face of tax inequality in America.

Bosanek pays a tax rate of 35.8 percent of income, while Buffett pays a rate at 17.4 percent

He lashed out at assertions from many Republican leaders that the “Buffett rule” is class warfare.

“If this is a war, my side has the nuclear bomb,” Buffett said. “We have K Street. … We have Wall Street. Debbie doesn’t have anybody. I want a government that is responsive to the people who got the short straw in life.”

When they say she pays 35.8 percent of her “income,” I assume they mean “taxable income” (plus payroll taxes), not “adjusted gross income.” At least a dozen readers sent us links to this Forbes piece today alleging that Buffett’s secretary must make somewhere between $200,000 and $500,000 a year if she’s paying a higher effective tax rate than Buffett is. Problem is, the Forbes piece confuses AGI with taxable income in its calculations: Buffett pays an effective rate of 17.4 percent on his taxable income but just 11 percent on his AGI. And, as a fellow Forbes staffer points out in the comments over there, payroll taxes are included in Buffett’s calculations. Since those are capped at $15,300 regardless of income, they end up eating a much bigger proportion of the average working-class taxpayer’s income than a billionaire’s. (Tom Maguire is also skeptical of the Forbes piece.) Guesstimating the secretary’s income from her effective tax rate is beyond my mathematical ability (at least when I’m pressed for time), but there’s an easy way to settle the argument: Now that she’s at the heart of a national policy debate, have her declare her income so we can see just how representative she really is. The One wants to use her as a stand-in for blue-collar workers but there’s at least a chance that she meets the income threshold of “the one percent.” Good lord, let’s hope she does: Warren Buffett of all people can surely afford to pay his secretary lavishly. How about it?

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I use to have a lot of respect for this man. Not any more.

What is it about people who use free market captialism to get wealthy and then turn into screaming liberals? Why is that?

Because in Buffets case he didn’t make his fortune on free market capitalism, he made it through taking advantage of government regulation of the insurance industry and was the first in on the public sector pension and insurance scam. His company GEICO stands for government employee insurance company. Buffet would lose tons of money if government scaled down to the size it should be. His whole persona and wealth is a scam. He’s not worth what he claims, he’s only really worth what he has in hard assets. If he tried to access his net worth the stock value would crash, so the figure of 36 billion is misleading at best.

Ann NY on January 26, 2012 at 7:04 AM

Why doesn’t that Progressive fool tool just hand over his “foundation” money to the US Treasury?

THIS IS WHY WE AVOID ALL BUFFET COMPANIES we can.

Unfortunately when you have a compliant media and Juan and Evita Peron in the White House this is what we get.

Truly America is committing political, economic and cultural suicide.

PappyD61 on January 26, 2012 at 7:19 AM

……….on the other hand,

OBAMA 2012!!!!
America…..you deserve it!

PappyD61 on January 26, 2012 at 7:21 AM

Hey but if she makes 200,000 or more obama wants to tax her more.

tinkerthinker on January 26, 2012 at 7:34 AM

a) I thought Administrative Assistant was a more proper term than secretary as of about 20 years ago.

b) Think of the hilarity if she comes in above Obama’s $250k threshold. That revelation would give me hope.

hungrymongo on January 26, 2012 at 7:35 AM

Why doesn’t that Progressive fool tool just hand over his “foundation” money to the US Treasury?

(snip)

PappyD61 on January 26, 2012

My thoughts, and those of many, many others who believe similarly. The old phart should stop whining and fork over the bucks$.
Personally, I think Buffett is just patting himself on the back.
neener, neener, neener

Does B. Hussein Ø suck up to anyone who isn’t Leftist, wealthy, and stupid?
I mean besides Communists and other international thugs of course.

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 26, 2012 at 8:06 AM

That’s it. I’m selling my brk.b. My few measly shares aren’t a blip on Warren’s radar, but I’ll feel better.

rhit87 on January 26, 2012 at 8:15 AM

a) I thought Administrative Assistant was a more proper term than secretary as of about 20 years ago.

b) Think of the hilarity if she comes in above Obama’s $250k threshold. That revelation would give me hope.

hungrymongo on January 26, 2012 at 7:35 AM

It goes much further than that. I had my first “administrative assistant” in the mid 80s. The “assistant” takes care of daily mundane matters that the boss hasn’t the time or desire to address. The secretary answers the phones and types letters. I suspect that given Buffett’s age, he still uses that term, or is using the classic Brit definition – which is an admin. asst. +plus+ much more.
She might be his personal valet too. Tough life for a man who has made mega-millions from the death tax (see how he gobbles up “family farms”).

~(Ä)~

Karl Magnus on January 26, 2012 at 8:16 AM

Must suck to work somewhere where a piece of the company isn’t part of the compensation. What kind of mean bastage would be a billionaire, and yet not give his help a taste?

MNHawk on January 26, 2012 at 8:24 AM

If Buffett is so hell bent for leather determined to get his rear end taxed all the way into next Tuesday, then why doesn’t the old SOB just hand over what he considers to be his fair share to the government and then just go quietly away into obscurity. I am now sick and tired of hearing about this ancient prune.

pilamaye on January 26, 2012 at 8:34 AM

Warren Buffett: Have I mentioned lately that my secretary’s paying a higher tax rate than I am?

I’m getting really tired of this Schtick! Has this guy even paid his taxes yet? How can someone that is currently in litigation with the IRS over previously owed taxes come out publicly saying this crap? My advice to Mr. Buffet is: pay up & shut up!

Boats48 on January 26, 2012 at 8:41 AM

You can manipulate numbers to portray any picture you want to, when everyone is not on a level playing field numeracy-wise.

Let’s use simple numbers. If you fall in the 25% tax bracket on 100K, everyone would say you had paid 25% in taxes, and you would have hypothetically $75K left.

But we don’t live in flat tax world, especially not at 25% tax.

You pay 10% on the first 17K of income. Everyone does. $1700.
You pay 15% on the money you earn that falls between $17K and $69K
So you pay 15% on the next 52K $7800

Then on the money that falls into the next marginal rate, you pay
25% only on the 31K that falls between 69K and 100K. $7750

Total $17,320 payments to the IRS for a fictional character in the 25% marginal tax rate. Not $25K. And if you take their total income which we don’t know here, but is over $112K probably, the percentage they pay of entire income would even be smaller.

And, that does not tell you how much they had to earn to be taxed thus, or what they deducted before you got to the AGI=$100K.

It is therefore, surprising that the secretary pays a higher rate than the tax rate, but it must be something unique. She is single, and single taxpayers get hit worse? She pays 28% AMT or the 35% rate and adds 15% SE to that and gets a higher percentage? SE is the worst.

It isn’t any good to make statements like this one about the secretary, because without details you can’t figure it out. The thing I would point out, is that SHE is today’s middle class, the Occupy crowd doesn’t pay any federal tax, they only pay Social Security, and some of them get it back when they file.

You are not middle class unless you are paying federal taxes. If you get a need based, cash card, check, apartment, from the government, Please don’t tell me you are middle class.

Mr. Obama and the democrats want the executive secretaries of this world to pay even more, so that the underclasses can get free stuff from the government, and so more people can “Qualify.”

“Qualify.” What a twisted word.

Fleuries on January 26, 2012 at 8:55 AM

Dry up, you old traitor-turd. Those, such as Buffett, who give aid and comfort to enemy-obama are no longer relevant.

Pork-Chop on January 26, 2012 at 9:03 AM

Ms Debbie has to make in excess of 300k if she is paying anywhere near 37%.
I paid less than that on more income for 2010. I do not have any capital gains income, or exotic tax deferment schemes available. Just home interest, state taxes, and my mortgage deduction, on a joint return w/ 1 dependant.
A family of 4 would have to make more than ~100k to pay an income tax rate of 15%.

It is reprehensible that Buffett would use his bully pulpit to promote such trash!

gonnjos on January 26, 2012 at 9:11 AM

” I want a government that is responsive to the people who got the short straw in life.” -Warren Buffet

Yeah, don’t we all, Warren. But the problem is, who decides where the “short straw” ends and the “making everybody else pay for my indulgence” begins?

Sitting next to a $500,000 a year office manager and using that rhetoric starts to look like you don’t know who it is you’re talking about.

Cleombrotus on January 26, 2012 at 9:14 AM

judas,

did you forget to mention you’ve outsourced more jobs than any other human on the planet? That probably slipped your mind.

I know it will stun you but many of those “expenses” you cut ended up on welfare and other goverment programs. Many might not be able to find a comparable job since the town they live in doesn’t have many option. However, feel good about yourself that you gave indians or chinese those jobs.

Keep up the lectures on how we should act. A pox on you and your clan. Enjoy the trip to hell.

acyl72 on January 26, 2012 at 9:26 AM

It’s also misleading in that if Buffet is paying roughly 17% on his taxable income and has income of over $1 million, then he’s likely receiving a large portion of his income from capital gains. Capital gains are based on the appreciation of an assets value, which has already been taxed, and are therefore double taxation. Since the capital assets that have the greatest value are generally investments in corporations, the increased value has already been taxed at 35% for the corporation and then gets taxed again at 15% when the investment is sold.

Capital gains are also not indexed for inflation, which is part of the reason the capital gains tax rate is lower than the ordinary income tax rate. For instance, if you bought an asset in 2000 for $1 and sold it for $1.45 today, you have a capital gain of $.45 and you’d pay $.07 in tax on that gain (15% of $.45). Inflation doesn’t factor into the equation even though the inflation rate since 2000 has been around 31%, which means that about $.31 of the gain you realized was solely due to inflation.

KimS on January 26, 2012 at 9:30 AM

So what would we make of the Buffett rule if, instead of capital gains, all his income comes from interest on Treasuries and munis?

DrSteve on January 26, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Sorry, “all his income came,” grammar fail.

DrSteve on January 26, 2012 at 9:33 AM

Normally I think making taxes public is crazy but if it is going to be the center of their argument, shouldn’t both of these folks put their returns out?

Cindy Munford on January 26, 2012 at 9:34 AM

Normally I think making taxes public is crazy but if it is going to be the center of their argument, shouldn’t both of these folks put their returns out?

I think so. Otherwise I call hockey pucks.

KimS on January 26, 2012 at 9:49 AM

Let’s not forget that probably each of the 30(+?) GOP bills that have been sent to the DEM Senate contain proposals for tax reform, and now the 0 is running on this ???
Alot of this cr*p makes me scratch my head over such brazen disingenousity, but SHEESH !!

pambi on January 26, 2012 at 10:00 AM

Hey Warren, you’d be paying more in taxes than your secretary if you actually paid your damn taxes in the 1st place:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/08/29/warren-buffett-taxes-berkshire-hathaway_n_941099.html

Berkshire Hathaway, the eighth-largest public company in the world according to Forbes, openly admits to still owing taxes for years 2002 through 2004 and 2005 through 2009, according to the New York Post. The company says it expects to “resolve all adjustments proposed by the US Internal Revenue Service” within the next year.

If the flaming liberals over at HuffPo picked up on this, who do you think you are fooling?

cmsciulli on January 26, 2012 at 10:18 AM

THIS IS WHY WE AVOID ALL BUFFET COMPANIES we can.

PappyD61 on January 26, 2012 at 7:19 AM

Which companies are those?

cmsciulli on January 26, 2012 at 10:21 AM

THIS IS WHY WE AVOID ALL BUFFET COMPANIES we can.

PappyD61 on January 26, 2012 at 7:19 AM
Which companies are those?

cmsciulli on January 26, 2012 at 10:21 AM

Geico is a good place to start. Shoot that lizard and place your business with someone that actually employs US citizens versus a bunch of Indians.

acyl72 on January 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM

So, I’m paying 20% of my $100,000 salary, I think that’s $20,000 overall. My company owner is paying 10% of his income of $700,000, which is %70,000. A local welfare holder not only pays no income tax, but gets a monthly check(s) totaling about half of my take home pay.

Each citizen is supposed to be paying for the government services they receive. Don’t we pretty much receive the same government services? Then why are some people paying so much more for the same service I get, and we’re paying others to take the services that others are paying for.

dahni on January 26, 2012 at 10:52 AM

Old fart. Is he suggesting we should tax laws because of what your secretary pays. I have a better solution, you could lower her salary so she does not have to pay and tax. Then STFU, FO and leave us alone.

Wade on January 26, 2012 at 10:59 AM

Heh. Buffet just suggested that his secretary got the short straw in life. Yeah if she’s paying 35% tax rate she making a lot more than I am. Whhaaaa whaaa, cry me a river.

I’d like someone to explain the “fairness” of this to me:

Why is the price tag for being a citizen millions of dollars for some people and free for others?

Scrappy on January 26, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Buffet is a capitalist. He used his influence to get the President of the United States to shut down the competition to his railroad. The price Buffet had to pay to boost his company was to become a shill for the government. You may call it crony capitalism, you may find it reprehensible, you may not understand how he can debase himself. To Buffet, it is just business, for the good of the company. In days of old, he would have been the guy who dumped toxic waste into the rivers and paid workers slave wages to work in deplorable conditions. For every bad actor like Buffet, there were 100 good guys who built strong companies and employ thousands. Capitalism isn’t always fair, but let the free market decide who the losers are.
Unfortunately, when we allow the government to have a say in things like the pipeline, Buffet wins by default and the free market has no chance to tell him and BH to take a hike.

tdarrington on January 26, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Yes! I want to know how much this woman makes. She is constantly invoked as one of the people like me. Middle class. So lets see how much she makes. Because I don’t think she is one of “us” at all.

magicbeans on January 26, 2012 at 11:22 AM

Each citizen is supposed to be paying for the government services they receive. Don’t we pretty much receive the same government services? Then why are some people paying so much more for the same service I get, and we’re paying others to take the services that others are paying for.

Because you probably stomped her face into the mud or denied her an opportunity to succeed on your greedy climb to the top. You owe her. /sarc

tdarrington on January 26, 2012 at 11:25 AM

How many Tax Lawyers does Warren Buffet employ?
How much does he owe in Back Taxes?
Why does he not just pay more to the IRS and Shut Up?
Scoring cheap Political Points: this “Fair Share” BS is getting real old!

gullxn on January 26, 2012 at 11:44 AM

And if there’s one tax policy that is guaranteed to bring expansion to a halt, it’s raising the capital gains tax rate. Banks only provide a small percentage of the cash needed to expand or start a business. The rest comes from private investors – frequently private equity companies.

Raise the capital gains tax rate and you create a disincentive for investment in anything other than a sure thing, because only a sure thing will have growth that exceed inflation and the capital gains tax rate. That means fewer start up companies, fewer small companies growing, and fewer dreamers finding the money to create innovative products and bring them to market. In other words – that means fewer jobs.

Of course, for people like Obama who have never owned a business or worked outside academia or public service, jobs are only created through government investment in government approved ventures, so raising the capital gains tax rate and sharply reducing private investment is a good thing. So what if there are fewer jobs – to him and his advisers, 9% unemployment is the “new normal” and we just need to get used to it.

KimS on January 26, 2012 at 12:15 PM

Now that Ms. Bosanek is no longer a “private” individual and off limits, I think she should be forced to release her tax forms for the past five years.

theFantom on January 26, 2012 at 12:22 PM

i’m with rush..she needs to release her tax records!

sadsushi on January 25, 2012 at 10:55 PM

I might be wrong here but aren’t tax returns public documents? Can’t anyone request and pay a fee to see a copy of her last return?

NapaConservative on January 26, 2012 at 12:24 PM

The One wants to use her as a stand-in for blue-collar workers

How many blue collar workers can afford a 2nd home in Arizona, inclusive of an olympic size swimming pool and a PGA putting green

It’s only fair that Ofairshare be fair and she should disclose her tax returns.

BillyPenn on January 26, 2012 at 1:36 PM

Geico is a good place to start. Shoot that lizard and place your business with someone that actually employs US citizens versus a bunch of Indians.

acyl72 on January 26, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Don’t worry, I’m in Good Hands ;-)

cmsciulli on January 26, 2012 at 1:58 PM

Hey Warren, you hypocrital rich bastard, how ’bout you not only drop the lawsuit agains the Treasury, and pay your $Billion or so in back taxes, and while you’re at it, just write a big freaking check to ‘em as well, since you’re so upset about your secratary. Better yet, pay your secratary’s damn taxes and just shut up! Hell, your corporation stands to make $Billions TRUCKING Canadian oil instead of it being pipelined, you lying sack of crap!!!

Colatteral Damage on January 26, 2012 at 2:34 PM

How many times does this have to be debunked? Look to Dan Mitchell over at Cato for a great analysis of why this is BS.

Pablo Snooze on January 26, 2012 at 3:45 PM

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