1. Winslow P. Kelpfroth says:

    Didn’t quite follow Buffet’s reasoning. He paid 17% on his taxable income; the effective federal income tax rate on our modest middle class income is around 9%, so he’s already paying at a rate higher than me. I suspect that he may be angling for a deal where an increase in income tax rates is balanced by a decrease in capital gains and/or investment income. Keep in mind that Buffet may be worth billions, but worth does not equate with income. Also, he’s free to write a check to the treasury for as much as he wishes at any time.

    • Not all income is treated equally under the federal tax code, and Buffet specifically addresses the fact that capital gains taxes are too low in his column: “…you need to examine the sources of government revenue. Last year about 80 percent of these revenues came from personal income taxes and payroll taxes. The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes. It’s a different story for the middle class: typically, they fall into the 15 percent and 25 percent income tax brackets, and then are hit with heavy payroll taxes to boot.”

      Buffet consistently refers to his income, not net worth, in his op-ed. But I happen to agree with you – a wealth tax, or at the very least, a steep estate tax – would be a good idea, and I think Adam Smith and Thomas Jefferson would agree:

      With Thomas Jefferson taking the lead in the Virginia legislature in 1777, every Revolutionary state government abolished the laws of primogeniture and entail that had served to perpetuate the concentration of inherited property. Jefferson cited Adam Smith, the hero of free market capitalists everywhere, as the source of his conviction that (as Smith wrote, and Jefferson closely echoed in his own words), “A power to dispose of estates for ever is manifestly absurd. The earth and the fulness of it belongs to every generation, and the preceding one can have no right to bind it up from posterity. Such extension of property is quite unnatural.” Smith said: “There is no point more difficult to account for than the right we conceive men to have to dispose of their goods after death.”

      As for your suspicions about Buffet’s motives for writing, in the future please post independently verifiable sources for your claims – otherwise, your comments may not be published (per our comment policy). Likewise, unless you have a plan for funding our democracy entirely via voluntary donations (and if you do, by all means please share it), please refrain from using the tired canard about people donating their money to the Treasury.

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