In a New York Times op-ed on Monday, titled “Stop Coddling the Rich,” Buffett, Berkshire Hathaway’s chair and CEO, said he and his “mega-rich” friends have been spared the “shared sacrifice” the country’s leaders have asked for as the country veers toward a double-dip recession.
“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,” he wrote.
“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.”
He observes that investment managers earn billions, but only pay a 15 percent tax rate.
Buffett said his 2010 tax bill, including income and payroll taxes, totaled $6,938,744 — or 17.4 percent of his taxable income. Most people in his office pay 33 to 41 percent, he said.
Let me remind Mr. Buffett of a couple of things.
First, if he is truly paying taxes at that rate, it probably is because he is availing himself of a lot of tax breaks and shelters that are legal under the laws of the United States. He doesn't have to use them -- nor does he have to take every deduction that he is legally entitled to. That he does indicates he is paying less by choice.
But more to the point, if Warren Buffett thinks he is under-paying, he does have an option -- cut a check to the US Government and mail it to the following address.
Heck -- there is even a handy online form that will let you surrender that ill-gotten wealth to Uncle Sam without the time and expense of using a paper check.
Seriously, Warren, put your money where your mouth is. make the sacrifice voluntarily, rather than demanding that government force you to. In other words, live by your stated principles and show that you are the sort of patriot that you claim to be -- or admit that you lack the testicular fortitude to do what you believe is the right thing without the threat jackboot of government on your throat and a gun to your head to make you do it.
ADDENDUM: I can't help but note that Warren Buffett didn't have the manhood to rise to this same challenge when I put it to him last November when he whined about the same issue. But then I'm not surprised -- he didn't do it back in October of 2007 when he complained about being under-taxed and i offered the same suggestion. Nor did he do so the other two times when I posted this address for allegedly "patriotic millionaires" who believe government isn't confiscating enough of their wealth -- but aren't patriotic enough to make the payment voluntarily.