Famous uberrich guy Warren Buffett has penned a NYT editorial begging Congress to please, please, raise his taxes. Last year, he writes, they were only 17.4 of his taxable income. He says folks like him, who make over $10 million a year, are treated by Washington “as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species.” It’s time to stop the “coddling,” he says and make the super-rich pay their fair share.
In the editorial, he writes:
“While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
“These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
“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 editorial echoed sentiments Buffett voiced in an ABC news interview back in Nov 2010 where he told Christiane Amanpour that mega-rich people like him pay far too little in taxes and the Bush era tax cuts should expire:
The rich are always going to say that, you know, ‘Just give us more money, and we’ll go out and spend more, and then it will all trickle down to the rest of you.’ But that has not worked the last 10 years, and I hope the American public is catching on.
In response to Buffett’s editorial, the conservative The American Spectator asks, “[W]hy do Buffett and the other rich people so ready to pay more have to be told to pay more? Why don’t they just pay more on their own?”
They have a point, but you can’t just overpay your taxes. The IRS will send you a refund check. But, the Treasury Department has long had a website where individual citizens can donate to pay down the Federal deficit. Why wait around for Washington? Buffett should put his money where his mouth is and donate all the extra money he thinks he deserves to be taxed.