Warren Buffett Would Like to Pay More Taxes, Please

Warren Buffett took to the pages of The New York Times this weekend to proclaim his desire to pay more taxes, something he has done many times over the years.

Of course, he's welcome to send a check to the Bureau of the Public Debt anytime.

But when Warren Buffett says he should pay more taxes, he actually means he'd like the people he amusingly refers to as his "mega-rich friends" to join him as well.

Many of his arguments for taxing the rich are standard stuff, but he does make one interesting point from personal experience that's worth chewing on:

Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.

I didn’t refuse, nor did others. 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.

In response to the column, the Washington Examiner's Tim Carney writes that:

Buffett Profits from Taxes He Supports

Buffett regularly lobbies for higher estate taxes. He also has repeatedly bought up family businesses forced to sell because the heirs’ death-tax bill exceeded the business’s liquid assets. He owns life insurance companies that rely on the death tax in order to sell their estate-planning businesses.

Buffett Profits from Government Spending

Buffett made about a billion dollars off of the Wall Street bailout by investing in Goldman Sachs on the assumption Uncle Sam would bail it out. He also is planning investments in ethanol giant ADM and government-contracting leviathan General Dynamics.

As always, Carney is doing the Lord's work digging up gotchas on the big business-big government beat, but I'm wary taking that line of reasoning too far—probably because I've had the barrel of that particular gun pointed at me one too many times. Self-interest may be a factor in Buffett's position, but it's more likely that Buffett genuinely believes raising taxes on the rich would be a good policy decision—in the same way that many people who don't stand to benefit from high estate taxes and Wall Street bailouts do.

Of course, Reason has a long history of disagreeing with Buffett about the advisability of/need for increased taxes on the rich. Read lots here.

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  • Paul||

    Estate taxes are by definition, immoral. That should be fought on principle, never on pragmatism.

    Having a mother that just died, and having her estate under the estate tax minimum, I still feel that way.

  • Concerned Citizen||

    My condolences.

    Totally agree with you.

  • ||

    My condolences as well.

  • jasno||

    Immoral? Whose morals?

    Long ago in the bowels of a comment thread someone mentioned that the estate tax was the most libertarian of taxes, tearing down family empires and forcing each generation to go out and create. That really stuck with me. If I were king for a day... 100% tax on inheritances over... $5 million. Even the state can allocate resources more effectively than the average trust fund brat. Oh, to be king for a day...

  • Paul||

    Long ago in the bowels of a comment thread someone mentioned that the estate tax was the most libertarian of tax.

    That person was wrong.

    It's the forced redistribution of built-up familial wealth. It has no business forcing the redistribution of that.

    Even the state can allocate resources more effectively than the average trust fund brat.

    Wrong. The looser the cannon, the more effectively that wealth will be redistributed by its owner.

    There is absolutely nothing wrong with an idiot with $5 million buying fast cars, booze, loose women, houses, hot tubs and gaudy jewelry.

    The idiot's actions therefore benefit the purveyors of fast cars, booze, loose women, the housing market, hot tubs and gaudy jewelry.

    The state just gives it back to Warren Buffet and his government teat-sucking investments.

  • ||

    Even the state can allocate resources more effectively than the average trust fund brat.

    Google "Coase", if you're curious about why this isn't true.

  • ||

    Ronald, baby.

    How about common sense?

  • jasno||

    I generally come to agree with libertarian principles because of pragmatic reasons, so its interesting to hear someone argue morals regarding taxation. Why is it wrong for the state to tax built-up familial wealth, anymore than it is wrong for them to tax any other kind of wealth or activity? What is sacred about the wealth you pass on to children?

  • ||

    Its called theft.

  • jasno||

    What is theft? The death tax? Taxes in general? The wealth you leave to your children?

  • ||

    It's not theft if no living person owns what's being taken.

  • Apogee||

    That's funny. You imagine yourself capable of judging the correct ratio of savings/investment that other people need to provide for their offspring.

    So by your logic, if a living person gifts the entirety of their estate to their family or someone else, then taxing it is theft. Right?

    Of course, if Buffett were to appoint his children to head several of his companies (along with a huge salary at each), then that wouldn't have anything to do with inheritance, now would it?

    See how easy it is to get at those rich people?

  • Nash||

    Generally because it's wealth that has already been taxed. Why tax them again?

  • jasno||

    Ok, I'm fine with that, so how about a trade - eliminate taxes on income and tax purchases and estates.

  • Paul||

    Because estate taxes are a form of income taxes. It has no business sticking its nose into how I acquire my wealth. It also creates the problem of forced liquidation (discussed in the blogpost). If that isn't legalized theft, I don't know what is.

    If my mother gives me an original Picasso and I want to hang it on my wall, why do I have to liquidate that asset to hand over the government a percentage of what the government declares its worth?

  • ||

    Why is it wrong for the state to tax built-up familial wealth, anymore than it is wrong for them to tax any other kind of wealth or activity?

    Its like fiscal double-jeopardy, because you pay taxes on the same dollar twice.

  • ||

    It's the forced redistribution of built-up familial wealth.

    So much for that "only individuals have rights" principle, eh?

  • Apogee||

    So much for that "only individuals have rights" principle, eh?

    Apparently, an individual has no right to plan for his family's future without involving some third party.

    Like, say a large insurance company.

  • ||

    Plan all you want. If you're expecting someone else to enforce the distribution after you cease to be an individual they deserve a cut.

  • Apogee||

    If you're expecting someone else to enforce the distribution after you cease to be an individual they deserve a cut.

    So you're saying that the offspring are somehow not already paying for their defense of the distribution?

    Or have you decided that the taxes paid by the offspring are somehow magically allocated to any other place than the defense of their inheritance?

    We get it. You want other people's money.

    In what department of the government do you work?

  • William Munny||

    Deserve's got nothin' to do with it

  • ||

    "100% tax on inheritances over... $5 million"

    The ellipsis is appropriate here; it perfectly conveys the pause as you pulled that number out of your ass.

  • jasno||

    Well, duh. That's why I added the ellipsis. Of course it is completely arbitrary and pulled out of my ass. Is that somehow different than real tax rates in any nation? Are they arrived at by some sort of scientific consensus?

  • ||

    I guess 5 mil is the point at which the beneficiaries are just "trust fund brats," and thus deserving of having their property confiscated. Good to know.

  • Paul||

    Takes rates can be set somewhat scientifically. I mean, as dismally scientifically as the science of economics will allow.

    You can set tax rates high enough to make enough revenue to execute the business of state, without being confiscatory, or having a minimal drag on the economy.

    And understandably, those rates may change with the type of economy you have.

  • ||

    Economics isn't a science.

  • sevo||

    Bullshit.

  • ||

    Which is that in reply to?

  • sevo||

    To you.

  • ||

    The clever lawyer-politician would not frame an inheritance tax as such per se, but an income tax. For the beneficiaries of a will realize real income they previously didn't have.

    But what about non-liquid assets? Like what if somebody inherited the family construction business? How could one tax a bunch of earth-movers, power-tools and a balance sheet as income?

    In a coherent tax system, that business scenario would not be a problem to the income-tax argument for inheritance. But in IRS-verse there is no rational way to make that strong argument presently.

  • Apogee||

    In a coherent tax system, that business scenario would not be a problem to the income-tax argument for inheritance. But in IRS-verse there is no rational way to make that strong argument presently.

    And, I would add, the very inability (for all the talk of 'raising revenue') to straighten out the tax code so that it is predictable reflects the fact that the entire discussion is about wielding financial power over others and not about 'everyone paying their fair share'.

    Guys like Buffett will continue to game the system (because that is one reason guys like Buffett are wealthy), and both sides (R's & D's) have no problem with it as long as they continue to exert power over others.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Even the state can allocate resources more effectively than the average trust fund brat.

    Once upon a time, that might have been the case, but the administrative apparatus has now reached "bloat" stage and can no longer perform what it was formed to accomplish.

    http://www.oftwominds.com/blog.....e5-11.html

  • ||

    Long ago in the bowels of a comment thread someone mentioned that the estate tax was the most libertarian of taxes, tearing down family empires and forcing each generation to go out and create.

    This might have been me, though I think property taxes are right behind. The best taxes are those that simulate user fees for govt services.

    The estate tax is like a user fee for the govt enforcing your will in your stead, forcing banks etc to hand over your assets to the party you wish.

    If you don't want your heirs to pay an estate tax, give them what you want to give them before you die.

  • Xenocles||

    Right, so it can be taxed directly as income?

  • RM||

    This is ridiculous. If the law (tax) can be circumvented entirely by a technicality or loophole, then it's clearly not a good law (or tax). The fact that there is a gift tax (presumable to close this loophole) is irrelevant, you can hardly make the argument that the government needs to enforce. you giving a gift voluntarily to somebody else.

  • Tym||

    Sorry about your loss.

  • Paul||

    Thanks for all the concolences. Always appreciated.

  • Suki||

    Sorry for your loss.

  • Mike M.||

    Sorry, but if he spends even one dollar on paying professionals to minimize his tax burden, in my book that makes him a dishonest, hypocritical POS.

    He would have a much better moral leg to stand on if he argued for closing all of the loopholes and ending the parts of the tax code that benefit him, but he'll never do that.

  • ||

    Exactly. This is just more horseshit from Buffet. He probably has an army of accountants and tax lawyers.

  • fish||

    He probably has an army of accountants and tax lawyers.

    Berkshire’s Tax-Free Split-Off
    In a tax-free split-off completed in October 2008, Berkshire Hathaway exchanged substantially all of its shares in White Mountains Insurance Group for the stock of a White Mountains subsidiary holding two insurance companies and $708 million in cash. MTO represented Berkshire in 2001 when it made its original investment in White Mountains, and this time MTO was there to help Berkshire exit its investment as well. As MTO tax lawyers guided Berkshire through the intricate requirements of a tax-free split-off, they also worked closely with their corporate colleagues to ensure that Berkshire’s business goals remained the central focus.

    Munger, Tolles, Olsen LLP

    I'm guessing they're the "82nd Airborne" of tax attorneys

  • Apogee||

    Nice fucking catch.

    Why tax free?

  • Raven Nation||

    Man, I live in Omaha & Buffett is local deity. I mean, good for him on working his ass off & being smart & getting rich. And he is pretty good on being charitable around here.

    But these regular pronouncements are getting tired. Something else was written last week about Buffett minimizing his tax burden by the way he holds all his assets. Nothing illegal but he clearly constructs his holdings to minimize his tax burden.

  • Captain Obvious||

    Just because the limp-wristed British use the phrase "good on you" doesn't fucking mean you have to use the word on every chance you get.

  • ||

    Munger especially. He's 'Charlie Munger.'

    Buffet's Robin to his Batman. And a nasty, cheapskate motherfucker in his personal dealings.

    Scrooge personified. Yuck.

  • sevo||

    Mike M.|8.15.11 @ 2:42PM|#
    "Sorry, but if he spends even one dollar on paying professionals to minimize his tax burden, in my book that makes him a dishonest, hypocritical POS...."

    I'd say you're too kind.
    First, if he wants to pay more to the government, he's welcome to do so and hasn't. So his argument is that he wants himself and others *forced* to pay more.
    Secondly, you'll notice where he plopped all his 'donations'; they went to Gates' foundation. Gates demands results; the government pisses it away.
    So we have either a rich hypocrite or the onset of dementia. Fool or knave.

  • Apogee||

    So his argument is that he wants himself and others *forced* to pay more.

    Of course, the army of tax accountants and lobbyists on his side tilts that playing field somewhat.

  • sevo||

    Good catch; missed that.
    He's hoping to hire the help that means only the others pay it.

  • A Serious Man||

    Quasi thread-jack since it also relates to taxation. From Project Syndicate: Why capitalism is doomed and Marx was right:
    http://www.slate.com/id/2301691/

    Of course this will spark the inevitable debate as to what capitalism really is.

  • ||

    That article was disappointing, even by Slate standards. 3/4 of the article was about how things are really, really bad you guys!!, then a lame suggestion to "invest in infrastructure" and a few other warmed over generalities makes up the guts of his recommendations? Weak.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    Any reference to laissez-faire in the last forty years is laughable at best. Corporatism is not capitalism.

  • Red Rocks Rockin||

    Especially since government has actually grown in size and spends more per capita, both in static and inflation-adjusted terms, than it did 40 years ago.

  • erm||

    I normally like Roubini, but this is pretty lame.

    "That means moving away from both the Anglo-Saxon model of laissez-faire and voodoo economics and the continental European model of deficit-driven welfare states. Both are broken."

    So then what's the solution? Welfare states that have managed to get their fiscal house in order, had to do so by cutting their entitlements and tweaking their tax structure. His call for more progressive taxation is equally vexing - in the United States somewhere around 50% of the population pay no taxes. Taxes in Europe are already insanely high, as well is government intervention. This article is basically saying "both models are wrong, so we need a better one... but i'm not going to tell you what it is or how we can accomplish it".

  • ||

    Your statement that "somewhere around 50% of the population pay no taxes" is simply not true.

  • sevo||

    "Your statement that "somewhere around 50% of the population pay no taxes" is simply not true."

    Correct. If anyone buys anything, they pay sales tax. Is that what you meant?

  • ||

    Payroll taxes and property taxes.

  • sevo||

    You can make a case for 'payroll taxes' if you mean other than income taxes.
    You can also try to make a case for 'property taxes' if you mean renters cover the landlord's property taxes.
    Weak tea.

  • ||

    I'll "try" to make a case for property taxes -- the U.S. home ownership rate was over 65% in 2009. I'd say that means that more than 50% of people pay property taxes, independent of any pass-through for renters.

    Yes, my reference to payroll taxes was to FICA. That's different from the federal income tax, and all W-2 income-earners pay it.

  • A Serious Man||

    Well FICA is ostensibly an investment towards your retirement, although Uncle Sam won't even consider letting you opt out, so you can't argue that Social Security is a self-sustaining sacred cow while bitching about its regressive nature. Either you want it or not.

  • ||

    Who's bitching about its regressive nature? I just pointed out that the statement that 50% of people don't pay taxes is BS.

  • squarooticus||

    Warren Buffett wants more bread and circuses so he can cement his position in the status quo: it is in Warren Buffett's interest to maintain the existing political order that robs from the poor and middle class and gives to the politically well-connected like himself. Of course he wants that to continue: he gets law and order at very low cost to himself relative to where he'd be without it.

    That he is calling for higher taxes on the rich is itself a good sign that the welfare state is not a good thing for the average Joe.

  • sevo||

    "Warren Buffett wants more bread and circuses so he can cement his position in the status quo:"

    Not to mention the social-acceptance props he gets.
    And in his case and at this time, they are probably more personally valuable than another mil or so.

  • Gus||

    "Warren Buffett Would Like to Pay More Taxes, Please"

    He's welcome to pay mine.

  • P B||

    He can always contact the Dept. of Public Debt and just write them a check. There problem solved.

  • Gus||

    True, but I still like my suggestion better.

  • Suki||

    He will probably take the deduction for that too.

  • Quid||

    Maybe I misread his article, but it seemed like he was saying he gets unfair tax breaks that the average Joe doesn't. He quotes 17.5% as being his deductions (payroll and income). I know that I pay more than that, and I obviously don't make the money he does. For me, it seems that the issue should be more of, do the mega-rich get unfair tax breaks that allow them to pay less, percentage-wise, that the average guy? If so, let's remedy that by either raising his taxes to the appropriate level, or even better, lowering everyone's taxes to his?

  • ||

    Do you refuse to see?

    The point is that he benefits from the warfare / welfare state and he wants more of it.

  • Name Nomad||

    The other (huge) reason he doesn't pay as much tax on his "income" is that he holds stocks for decades. If you don't sell an asset, then it's not income. Just because I bought a stock at $1/share and it's now at $10/share doesn't mean I've any realized gain on that investment.

  • Apogee||

    Just because I bought a stock at $1/share and it's now at $10/share doesn't mean I've any realized gain on that investment.

    But if you buy enough of them, then I'll give your corporations credit to make other investments, because, regardless of your actual 'earnings', everybody knows you're good for it.

    The average punter would be shocked to know how much business is conducted by 'entities' that are under completely different tax structures - structures that their lobbyists fight for with every ounce of sweat.

  • Abner||

    I bet Dunphy has a great "Me and Warren Buffet" story.

  • Pip||

    +1

  • ola||

    Don't you mean Cliff "Dunphy" Clavin?

  • ||

    I appreciate that he highlighted the payroll tax issue. I think it gets forgotten too often. Of course, if you really want to give the middle class a break, a better solution would be to allow a FICA opt-out so people could invest their own money.

    And, if you're going to pull a number out of your ass to qualify as "super rich", at least $1 million is a hell of a lot more reasonable than the Obama administration's $250k.

  • ||

    Super rich? Some person that makes a million bucks income for just one year?

    Hardly.

  • ||

    I don't disagree. If they were to enact some kind of "super rich" additional tax, it would make more sense to use an average of your previous 5 or 10 tax returns so the guy who has 1 very good year doesn't get screwed. (Not that I think any of these shenanigans are good ideas.)

  • ||

    Obama's 250k level gives the game away, that Buffet's $1m doesn't. With our existing over-bloated state, with $1.6trillion deficit, a few percentage points of Bugget's millions wont make a dent - maybe get an impressive number if they do that "over 10 years" thing.

    But the $250k, that, with a nice sharp spurt of inflation, could rollup a good chunk of the upper middle class. Then you're talking real money - hundreds of billions a year and more.

  • Ted S.||

    I think there used to be such a schedule before the 1986 tax reforms. At least, I've read of this from people who appeared on game shows back in the day and had highly variable income from one year to the next as a result.

  • some guy||

    Agreed. Wealth and income are not the same. We should outlaw the income tax and replace it with some sort of sales tax. Tax people based on what they consume, not what they produce...

  • Matrix||

    That seems FAIR

  • ||

    Only if its voluntary.

  • ||

    No problem. Don't want to pay the tax on that monocle? Don't buy it.

  • ||

    Yes, problem. If you want to tax that monocle, you get to collect only if I agree to pay the tax. The tax cannot be a condition of purchase. Not voluntary.

    RC, being libertariran necessarily requires the rejection of all involuntary taxes, including sales taxes as one's purchase of a product should not be held hostage to another's totalitarian scheme.

  • ||

    The problem for doctrinaire libertarians is that the govt is essentially "fining" you for the "crime" of buying something. If we were talking about a $100 fine for buying a $1000 bag of marijuana you'd be opposed to it, but a 10% sales tax is OK?

  • ||

    Problem is the producers have to charge lower prices in a sales tax regime than they would without a sales tax, which cuts into their profits. So you are indirectly taxing production.

  • JD the elder||

    I think he actually does have a good point vis-a-vis payroll taxes, in that the rich should not be getting taxed at a lower rate than the middle class simply because of the way that they each earn their money. The disappointing thing is that his conclusion doesn't amount to much more than "so of course the rich should be happy to pay more taxes". On the whole, the amount of taxes collected from everyone has gone up immensely in the last hundred years. By way of comparison, the rate in 1913 was 1% on income over $20,000 (about $44,000 now) rising to a whopping 6% on income over $500,000 (about $11,000,000 today). And the form was only a few pages. So for old Warren to argue that we should be happy to pay rates that would have staggered a Rockefeller or an Astor (and fight through an impenetrable thicket of rules and special cases to do so)...well, blow it out your ass, Warren.

  • JD the elder||

    Found a better link: here's the entire 1913 Form 1040 as a PDF. Total length: 4 pages, including the instructions.

    Also, I misread something before: it was 1% on income over $3000 or $4000, plus an additional tax kicking in at $20,000.

  • ||

    If you want to tax the rich, get rid of the corporate income tax which is paid by the consumers and employees and treat dividends and capital gains,which is how the rich get their money out of corporations, as normal income.

  • robc||

    Ive suggested recently making all C corps pass thru entities.

    Then, you can get rid of dividend tax and the corporate income tax.

    There are some paperwork issues, but they really arent that complicated, especially with new brokers' rules on tracking buy/sell anyway.

  • hmm||

    It's happening naturally. There are less IPOs and more LLC formations over the last few years. People are trending to LLCs.

  • T||

    Plus you don't have SOX requirements organized as a LLC.

  • hmm||

    yup, people aren't stupid. You can always restructure later if you want.

  • me, the person I, myself||

    Actually, what he'd really like is for the rest of the middle class to pay a whole lotta-lot more taxes. So we can be more like western Europe.

    Because what ends up happening is that it stagnates the whole socio-economic order. No rising challengers coming up from the ranks below that might unseat his perch -- because with the higher tax rates, nobody below can hope to accumulate enough resources to ever challenge him.

    Call The Divine Right of Stagnation, 21st Century Style

  • ||

    Like an itch I shouldn't have scratched, I broke down and read it. Same old self-serving bullshit.

    I will say, however; as a matter iof principle I don't see any logical reason why buying and selling money should be treated (or taxed) any differently than buying and selling bauxite or dog food.

    and, FYI, you senile jackass:

    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

  • Planet Moron||

    I need to get my hands on Warren Buffet's rolodex. I could use investors who don't "shy away from a sensible investment" based merely on net returns.

  • H. Protagonist||

    Indeed. I read that bit and thought, "Wow, the old geezer has finally fully flipped his lid."

  • Planet Moron||

    Would it make me a bad person to point out that Google inserted an ad about Alzheimer's and dementia next to the piece? Yes, yes it would.

  • fish||

    Alzheimers?? No! Fire insurance......Yes~!!

    Warren is probably getting a little squirrely about what comes after......

    What else is a crooked old billionaire to do except buy his way into heaven with other peoples money?

  • some guy||

    I know! I'm pretty sure Buffet includes tax liabilities in his calculation of what qualifies as a "sensible investment."

  • free2booze||

    Buffett probably believes that the new, super-awesome, ultra-government, mega-panel will go the Simpson-Bowles route, by closing "loop-holes", and reducing tax rates. My guess, is that this hurts Buffett more than higher rates. In the end, he's choosing the lesser of two evils, for him at least.

  • Stretchy||

    "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."

    The problem is, a sensible investment with capital gains taxed at 20% may no longer be a sensible investment when the capital gains rate is 39%

    So, he's probably telling the truth, he's never seen anyone shy away from a sensible investment because at the time, it wasn't sensible to invest.

  • ola||

    Exactly, the old duffer is still pissed he can't get any of Becky Quick.

  • Anonymous Coward||

  • Mike M.||

    No wonder this jackass doesn't really care if the marginal top income tax rate goes way up! It makes perfect sense.

  • sevo||

    It's more dishonest than I thought:
    "Warren Buffett, the world's richest man, took a $100,000 salary for the 27th consecutive year in 2007"
    http://everythingwarrenbuffett.....alary.html
    No WONDER he wants income tax to go up on the 'rich'; won't touch him one bit.

  • IceTrey||

    Repeal the 16th amendment and we don't have to pay federal income tax.

  • some guy||

    Dude! You don't have to pay income tax now! Just stop making income, or donate it all to charity. Poof! No income taxes. See? It's totally voluntary.

  • ||

    How quaint.

  • Matt||

    More taxes on the super rich will equal more wars, bailouts, corporate welfare, Education Department SWAT team raids, more TSA at airports, less privacy, and fewer civil liberties.

    The problem is not revenue, it is the dumb shit our government spends its money on. And then they come crying to the taxpayers after they spend trillions of dollars butchering people overseas and trampling on our liberties.

    Buffett, if you want to provide more support to such an organization, go right ahead. I'll pass.

  • hmm||

    Fuck him...

  • Jebus||

    Warren, you could always give that "extra money" to me. I won't complain about having money.

  • ||

    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.

    I'm betting that the money collected by the feds in cap gains taxes didn't get invested in anything, regardless of how sensible it might be.

  • Suki||

    It was invested in infrastructure and the future!

  • ||

    At his age,he's getting S.S and is on medicare too,why does he not bitch about that.I'm thinking if the means tested they could cut both by at least a third

  • Planet Moron||

    How about they means test my 401K too, that way if I'm too successful, they can give the money to someone else.

  • cynical||

    Don't worry, they'll flat out confiscate your 401k before they attempt to reform Social Security.

  • ||

    Last I saw, reasonable means-testing for Social Security would cut disbursements by about 10%, not 33%. This is none the less a really large number that's significant in a way that "getting another billion a year from Warren Buffet" is not.

  • JD||

    But if we started means-testing Social Security, politicians would have to stop pretending it's a pension program rather than welfare for the elderly like it actually is.

  • ||

    I think there is a case to be made that all income - regardless of the source - should be taxed at the same rate.

    To the extent that invesrtment income is taxed at a lower rate than wage income, that is a totally valid point.

    I would not really object to the taxation of capital gains, interest and dividends, at rates equivalent to the rates that wages and salaries are taxed. It might even effectuate an overall lowering of income tax rates.

  • ||

    Short-term cap gains are taxed as ordinary income now.

    With long-term cap gains, some of the gain is nothing but inflation. That's the original justification for a lower long-term capital gains rate.

  • jasno||

    Would it be wrong to argue then that the losses due to inflation are simply deducted as expenses? Then again, who defines 'inflation'?

  • ||

    In that case the dollars you're paying the tax with are inflated too, so it evens out somewhat.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    That and the double taxation of corporate income.

  • ||

    Oh, if only Buffet would hurry up and die of a heart attack. The air over the U.S.A. would clear up a bit.

  • Skip||

    How about if we award anyone who pays more than 10k in taxes a gold star? Will that make them happy? And each additional 10k gets another star.

  • Skip||

    ^10k extra

  • PantsFan||

    can the gold stars be redeemable for bacon?

  • Skip||

    They are redeemable for sex with lefties from Daily Kos and Jezebel. I can't think of any other way to sweeten the pot.

  • sevo||

    "They are redeemable for sex with lefties from Daily Kos and Jezebel."

    Uh, I'll pass.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    How about those of us who own businesses and are not much more than glorified tax collectors?

  • crank||

    I'll believe Warren Buffet or anyone super-rich person is sincere when they advocate policies that require a sacrifice on their part that results in a change in their lifestyle.

    Start talking about confiscating 80% of Buffet's wealth and then we'll see how much he cares about the national debt.

  • goober1223||

    As an employee of a subsidiary arm of General Dynamics, I'm getting a kick out of the "leviathan" comment. Maybe we are getting a big piece of the pie, but it hasn't been getting anywhere close to my work as they've shutdown lots of (more or less) promising work and turned us away even when we were the encumbent coming in at lower cost. That's what I'm told, anyway. I'm just a low level engineer. I must admit, though, that we have certainly done better than most as far as preservation of jobs.

  • Scruffy Nerfherder||

    GD is not what it once was, I think GE holds the current top slot.

  • erm||

    Wouldn't the secretary get a good chunk of her money back come refund time?

  • erm||

    fuck, double-post. also: payroll taxes don't apply to buffet and "investors" because they make their money not via payroll etc... wouldn't the same apply to small business owners? independent contractors? people like that.

  • erm||

    Wouldn't the secretary get a good chunk of her money back come refund time?

  • Alan Kellogg||

    Buffet, you send any money to me via Mythusmage Opines I can extend this guarantee; that not a single penny will be spent on government paperwork. Some will go towards the company paperwork necessary to keep tabs on my case, but not a single pfenning towards government paperwork. Now, can your friendy neighborhood Federal bureaucrat promise the same thing?

    A high percentage going towards paperwork, or a low percentage going towards paperwork? And in the latter case towards paying for a worker in the private sector. How could you lose?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Buffet's continual routine about his secretary paying higher tax rates than he does deliberately ignores the double taxation of corporate income. The stockholders are the owners of corporations. Each stockholder's percentage share of coroprate taxes paid on his behalf has to be added to what he or she pays at the individual level to get the true tax rate comparision.

    Of course, percentages of income paid have nothing to do wth fairness in paying taxes anyway.

    Fairness in paying for government provided goods and services is no different than it is in the private sector - on a user fee basis.

    The top 50% of income earners already pay 97% of total federal income taxes collected. They are certainly NOT getting 97% of the total value of government services that those federal income taxes are financing, so they are already paying more than their "fair share".

  • JB||

    Warren Buffett says he wants to pay higher taxes. He is a liar.

    Anytime he wants, he can pay higher taxes. Warren, how about you put your money where your mouth is and donate $5 billion to the US government?

    What he really wants is for OTHER people to pay higher taxes. I say fine, let's compromise: registered Democrats who make above a certain income get the luxury of paying higher taxes. I know how much your ilk is into force so we will force you to do it since that will make you feel better.

    Any issues with that? It's taxing the rich just like you like to scream about. And if what you really want is higher taxes on everyone, why not start with this as a first step?

    I've yet to meet one Democrat in my life who has voluntarily paid higher taxes; that is how little they believe in their principles and the value of more government. When you won't live by your paradigm, hypocrites, then I sure as hell won't.

  • ||

    "Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher..."

    Wrong, grandpa. The the top Reagan tax rate was 28%.

    Maybe there are more loopholes for the legion of lawyers and accountants who work for Buffett to thread his money through now. In reality, Buffett has no idea what he pays in taxes.

  • erm||

    This is a good point - the tax code is so convoluted and labyrinthine, that unless Buffett is willing to make all his papers public, it's impossible to argue about this one way or the other.

  • ||

    He may be getting the majority of his "income" from capital gains - which is taxed slightly lower now. That is his choice based on his investment picks and how he structures his own corporation.

  • ||

    Given the relatively small amount of people that Buffett claims this tax hike would affect (.3% of the population), I don't understand why he doesn't simply donate an equivalent portion of his wealth and lobby all of his friends to sign a pledge to do so as well.

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