Billionaire Warren Buffett Says Tax the Rich: No-Brainer or No Need?

Spike 2011/08/15 17:01:15
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While the White House and Congress may have come to a formal resolution on the nation's debt crisis, many are still unsatisfied with where the country is headed fiscally. Enter legendary investor Warren Buffett.

Buffett is turning the tables on his own kind, asking the public and the government to "stop coddling the super-rich."

Buffett wrote an article for The New York Times pointing out that neither he nor any of his "mega-rich friends" are feeling the "shared sacrifice" urged by President Obama, even though middle- and lower-class Americans seem to be schlepping their own fair share.

He explained, "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."

His point is that, though our tax system purports to be a rich-heavy progressive tax, the reality is often quite the opposite. He even notes that in the '80s and '90s, when tax rates were higher, his rates were still "in the middle of the pack."

Buffett's solution -- at least, as far as taxation goes -- is simple.

"For 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," Buffett concludes. "And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate."

Short term, it wouldn't save us the trillions we need, but it would earn the country tens of billions annually, at the least.

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Read More: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/08/15/opinion/stop-cod...

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Top Opinion

  • Fef 2011/08/15 20:01:51
    No need
    We already tax the rich too much.

    tax rich
    Top 5% pay 53.25% of all income taxes (Down from 2000 figure: 56.47%). The top 10% pay 64.89% (Down from 2000 figure: 67.33%). The top 25% pay 82.9% (Down from 2000 figure: 84.01%). The top 50% pay 96.03% (Down from 2000 figure: 96.09%). The bottom 50%? They pay a paltry 3.97% of all income taxes. The top 1% is paying more than ten times the federal income taxes than the bottom 50%! And who earns what? The top 1% earns 17.53 (2000: 20.81%) of all income. The top 5% earns 31.99 (2000: 35.30%). The top 10% earns 43.11% (2000: 46.01%); the top 25% earns 65.23% (2000: 67.15%), and the top 50% earns 86.19% (2000: 87.01%) of all the income.

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  • Toe Walker 2011/11/29 17:50:05
    Toe Walker
    When I worked and played I payed more than 35% taxes for 40 hours of earnings and 50% for any over time earnings. But, how much taxing is too much taxing On One Individual? Social Security Taxes stops after a certain amount is paid. Why not Federal and State Taxes? Say after we earn 250K the taxes stops. Basically that is what we have with the rich paying less. The minion will pay more of what's earned.
  • Larry777 2011/11/13 03:36:49
    They have the most money to give. They'll still end up with far more money than anybody else, but others need a chance too.
  • waynelaboy 2011/10/15 21:27:47
    make it retroactive back to 2000
  • American_Rights 2011/09/20 01:38:40
    My dad's been saying the same for years!
  • shindogg 2011/09/13 02:05:42
    finally someone speaks with a voice of reason for a change. this man is not as bad as the other rich people in america seem to be and often are.
  • Allen Wilson 2011/09/09 20:26:44
    Allen Wilson
    They have all the money.
  • Little Lulu 2011/09/09 08:07:10
    Little Lulu
    He should just give the government what he feels he should be paying. My family just scrapes by. God is good though. My husband just got a new job thaqt will be a pay raise for us.
  • sami 2011/09/06 21:47:21
    If you don't the rich will get way too powerful ... They already are ... Plus the 51% on the bottom are way too poor ... Yes they have a fridge, microwave, tvs, etc. ... But if something goes wrong, they are at the mercy of the government if they need good healthcare ... It could be anyone of us if the breadwinner gets sick ...
  • anonymous 2011/09/05 07:38:04
    How am I paying more in taxes than Warren (%age wise) and making a hell of a lot less!?!?!
  • ETpro anonymous 2011/09/07 06:47:45
    I can't answer that without knowing what you earn and whether you cheat on your taxes or not. But most middle class working stiffs pay a far greater percentage of their income in all taxes than billionaires do.
  • Adam 2011/09/02 19:55:09
    Accurate stats are hard to find these days so I think that since there sitting on the money instead of creating jobs, then this would be a good incentive to start job creation. As so many republicans have said, businesses create jobs not government, well then where have all those jobs gone in the last 11 years. Over seas and big business did that while sitting on big profits.
  • Allen Wilson 2011/09/01 23:15:32
    Allen Wilson
    They have the wealth. They cant spend it all. For them money is just a way to keep score.
  • ETpro Allen W... 2011/09/02 06:31:00
    Certainly for the greed-is good set. that is accurate.
  • Samiam 2011/08/28 06:51:50
  • ETpro Samiam 2011/08/29 05:57:32
    Thanks. Good info.
  • fightingquip 2011/08/25 18:17:12
    All billionaires should be executed and their money given to the poor
  • ETpro fightin... 2011/08/28 06:17:48
    Are you one of Karl Rove's new legion of right-wingers sent out to impersonate liberals on social media and say outrageous, communist inspired things, or are you a legitimate commie?.
  • TJ 2011/08/25 03:24:02
    No need
    If Buffet and others want to donate more of their money to the government, then fine with me. It's time to cut taxes on working folks and small biz owners though who are (or are attempting to) create jobs by starting new businesses or expanding current ones. Perhaps Buffet should invest this money he "doesn't need" in small biz entrepreneurs such as myself?
  • Tee Massad 2011/08/25 00:05:41
    No need
    Tee Massad
    I accidentally clicked no need... there is a BIG need if we want our country to not end up like a lot of places over seas with every day protesters, rioters, looters... from people who are struggling to make ends meet. Our Congress does coddle the Rich! The everyday American "Work Ant" pays more in taxes than a Billionaire does... these billionaires are out sourcing jobs over seas... they have been for years now. I also have noticed that since last week not one NEWS MEDIA is even talking about what Warren Buffett said... and of course they wouldn't most news journalist reporters for the FOX, CNN ect make millions of dollars. Just like most of our politicians do too.
  • charles 2011/08/24 18:21:55
  • Ragu 2011/08/23 06:58:37
    We need [proportional representation in] civil government (not just big corporate governments) and it needs to be paid for; but, not on the backs if those who realize fewer of the benefits, but shared burdens proportional to the benefits realized. That’s progressive taxation.
  • stacey arnold 2011/08/23 06:13:32
    stacey arnold
    I can't believe this is such a debate. It's so simple!
  • Copenhagenpimp 2011/08/23 03:04:17
    No need
    Tax the poor.
  • moiraregis 2011/08/22 22:14:31
    God bless Warren Buffett, who has shown you can make a lot of dough and still be a good guy. maybe you have to be a genius like him to do both.
  • PETE moiraregis 2011/08/23 00:10:42
    Bless Bill and Melinda Gates too who try to do good in the word, insead of complaining about people have have less than the rest of the world, they extend help to them. You don't see much of that attitude in the T party do you, it's more like I got mine and the hell with you!
  • Samiam moiraregis 2011/08/28 06:58:03
    as far as I understand his entire fortune (whatever is not tied into berkshire hathaway) will be given to charity organizations upon his death. He made his kids get jobs outside of his organizations to teach them how to work hard instead of giving them spoiled brat positions.
  • Anoxynym 2011/08/22 20:36:04
    The wealthiest 1% of the population acrue 80% of all the income in the United States. The other 99% of us make do with the remaining 20% of the income. If we defer taxes on the super wealthy who are benefiting from the advantages of living in the USA we are not taxing the income with the income tax. Fef's pie graphs demonstrate that the wealthiest 5% of wage earners are shouldering vastly less than the share of the cost than what could be considered fair by any conceivable or reasonable concept of fairness. Warren Buffett might be trying to point this out.
  • Paul Anoxynym 2011/08/23 13:35:10
    Yet they still pay more than most other countries.If you up the tax burden on the rich then you will cause more jobs to go over seas. Take a look at California they have the highest tax's on the rich but yet they are broke and about to go under.They have lost thousands of large business's to Texas who has recently drop the percentage of tax's that the big business has to pay.The business's didn't move to Texas for cheaper they move to Texas because of cheaper state tax's and this is why that 40% of all job creation in the U.S. since Odumbo has been in office has been in Texas. So Texas has already proved the point on this subject so anybody who cant see that needs to have their head examined.
  • Adam Paul 2011/09/02 19:57:51
    400,000 of those jobs created in Texas were minimum wage jobs just to let you know.
  • cbgb 2011/08/22 18:57:58
    They have too much and don't need it
  • bb cbgb 2011/08/23 16:08:47
    Says who? You? What gives you or anyone else that right, I mean sense of entitlement. Work harder if you want more money.
  • Chaika 2011/08/22 18:38:48
    No need
    look at Big Oil they make Billions in Profits but pay no taxes why should they be allowed to profit like this and pay Zilch towards their country these are the ones who should pay Taxes Big time lets not Forget the HIgh Flying Banksters also in a Tax Round up?
  • Jackie ... Chaika 2011/08/22 19:22:39
    Jackie G - Poker Playing Patriot
    Big oil pays billions - look it up at IRS
  • Jetti1 Jackie ... 2011/09/15 13:47:53
    If "Big Oil" pays Billions than they make three times that in earnings... not to mention the damage they cause drilling our land and seas.... You defend this than expect to pay more at the pumps and for enviromental cleanups. Free enterprise is not corporate welfare for the rich. The more we pay them the less we can afford to invest in our country in schools, security, construction... how is this good for the economy or our country? Please explain.....
  • Jackie ... Jetti1 2011/09/15 17:04:30
    Jackie G - Poker Playing Patriot
    "Big oil" made 8..19% profit - Procter and Gamble had a return of 13.9%, Viacom (the parent company of comedy central and MTV and Paramount Pictures had a return of 11.46% and Apple made 21% You are a sucker for left wing garbage rhetoric. Look up how much the big bad oil companies employ and how much they pay in taxes or STFU because you are lost in a world of zero factual information!
  • jdemme Chaika 2011/08/22 20:32:53
    And you voted no need because...?
  • PETE Chaika 2011/08/22 22:40:41
    I've heard that too, that Exxoin pays no federal taxes. But when I pulled up their financial statement it says they paid a bundle. I don't get it. What's the truth here?
  • Jackie ... PETE 2011/08/23 20:06:17
    Jackie G - Poker Playing Patriot
    Rhetoric at an easy target - the class warfare folks believe you are too stupid to look up facts and will just believe what they say! IRS says they pay!
  • Alphadean 2011/08/22 15:18:27
    Makes way to much sense and i doubt anyone will do anything to make it happen
  • Alphadean Alphadean 2011/08/22 16:38:08
    People who think the rich pay more taxes are delusional. 1st off the tax structure is designed to charge them more, but these people have accountants who know tax law and these people qrite off way more than they pay. People who go to work and make 40k to 50k a year pay their taxes outright and call it a day. 30% of 50k is 15K so that means 35k comes home. So lets do some basic math and I'm being nice with the numbers. yearly totals: $800/monthly mortage = $9600; $400 monthly car payment = $4800; utilities and taxes = $7000; $400 monthly food/household = $4800... that's a grand total of $26200. We still have not added in medical, car insurance, incidentals (like car repair etc.), clothing, recreation... and don't have a child
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