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Taxing Warren Buffett: GOP critics are oblivious that his tax ideas mirror those of Ronald Reagan.
Los Angeles Times ^ | 08/18/2011

Posted on 08/18/2011 10:18:12 AM PDT by SeekAndFind

Investors might hang on Warren Buffett's every word when it comes to financial advice, but Republicans are less than enthusiastic about the Oracle of Omaha's opinions on taxation. After the billionaire chairman of investment firm Berkshire Hathaway wrote an op-ed in the New York Times complaining that the mega-rich are undertaxed in comparison to the middle class, conservatives urged him to voluntarily send more of his own money to the Internal Revenue Service and leave others alone. Not only are they willfully missing Buffett's point, they're seemingly oblivious to the fact that in many ways his tax ideas mirror those of Ronald Reagan.

Hard to believe as it may seem, it has been a quarter of a century since the last comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code. Under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was signed by President Reagan, the number of tax brackets was reduced, loopholes were closed, the top tax rate was lowered and capital gains were taxed at the same rate as ordinary income. Yet in the years since, Congress has steadily drilled loopholes back into the code while lowering the tax burden for wealthy people who make money through investments rather than labor. That was the source of Buffett's complaint.

"The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes," Buffett wrote. "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."

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: buffet; gop; ronaldreagan; tax; taxes; warrenbuffet; warrenbuffett; warrenbuffoon

1 posted on 08/18/2011 10:18:20 AM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

I don’t understand what all the brouhaha is all about. There is absolutely nothing stopping these ultrarich self indulgent and preachy gazillionaires from sending in an extra check to the government if they feel they are not paying enough.


2 posted on 08/18/2011 10:22:03 AM PDT by freeangel ( (free speech is only good until someone else doesn't like it)
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To: SeekAndFind

I remember reading an article a while ago that said that Buffet paid a lower marginal tax rate than his secretary. Typical lib, make other pay!


3 posted on 08/18/2011 10:24:05 AM PDT by ABQHispConservative
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To: SeekAndFind

Can we just please get on with raising Warren Buffett’s taxes to 95%?

That should be the GOPs first order of business when they return. Pass a bill raising Warren Buffett’s taxes to 95%.

Go ahead and put a 100% property tax on him as well.


4 posted on 08/18/2011 10:26:42 AM PDT by SampleMan (Feral Humans are the refuse of socialism.)
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To: freeangel

Their liberal utopia fantasies are dying hard. They sound like the Duke Brothers at the end of Trading Places. Obama and his drones are still holding onto the delusion that the current rich benefits, pensions and give-ways can continue at their current levels and even increase if and only if rich white Republicans have their wealth confiscated at 90%. They refuse to let this go, this insistence on class warfare, that one man should pay for the welfare of another. The sophism of Marx and Engels was a confused, evil and ultimately unworkable political and economic system. Marxism ignored some basic tenants of human behavior. Sure they can make socialsim work for a few years at the point of a gun and by exterminating anyone opposed to it but ultimately it fails, it has always failed and will always fail. Just becuase you feel bad for that bum panhandling or that black mother of 7 with 7 different baby Dads does not give you the right to express your empathy by stealing my treasure. The entire underpinnings of modern Fabian socialism are coming down and it’s comical to see Magic Mulatto and guys like the author here screaming to “Turn those machines back on....”


5 posted on 08/18/2011 10:33:38 AM PDT by pburgh01
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To: freeangel; ABQHispConservative
I think his point is that it is not fair that the rich pay less than the middle class and the tax code should change. Buffett did give a huge amount of money to the Gates foundation to fight disease in Africa. I don't understand all the negativity towards Buffett here.

I think this is the key paragraph in the article:

Hard to believe as it may seem, it has been a quarter of a century since the last comprehensive overhaul of the U.S. tax code. Under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was signed by President Reagan, the number of tax brackets was reduced, loopholes were closed, the top tax rate was lowered and capital gains were taxed at the same rate as ordinary income. Yet in the years since, Congress has steadily drilled loopholes back into the code while lowering the tax burden for wealthy people who make money through investments rather than labor. That was the source of Buffett's complaint.

6 posted on 08/18/2011 10:33:43 AM PDT by RonBush
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To: SeekAndFind

“while lowering the tax burden for wealthy people who make money through investments rather than labor. That was the source of Buffett’s complaint.”

First of all, investment is a form of “labor,” that is if labor is what one does to earn money, short of someone else handing it over. Work smart, not hard.

More importantly, it was a stupid complaint. Everyone and his mother knows that such “unearned” income is double taxed. It is absolutely inane to measure Buffet relative to his secretary by taking into account the tax rate on one side while ignoring the other.

Most importantly of all, I don’t believe all this revenue talk is about closing loopholes and otherwise making things more fair. It’s about our central government controlling more of the national wealth. Targeting the wealthy is merely a convenience.


7 posted on 08/18/2011 10:36:27 AM PDT by Tublecane
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To: RonBush

Buffoon opposes a flat tax ,does he not? Why? that would get rid of the “loopholes”.


8 posted on 08/18/2011 10:38:09 AM PDT by WOBBLY BOB (My mind is like a steel trap: rusty and illegal in 37 states.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Well, then, we know it must be one of the most miserable, under-handed, pro-rich, anti-poor positions on the face of the Earth since we know from the LAT that Reagan was Satan incarnate.


9 posted on 08/18/2011 10:38:13 AM PDT by Opinionated Blowhard ("When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.")
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To: ABQHispConservative
The article total ignores the double taxation issue. Corporations pay a 35% tax rate. The remaining profits are sent out as dividends or retained, driving up share price. There is a further tax on that gain. So Mr. Buffet is paying, actually a much higher rate than he claims. It may seem fare to raise taxes on capital providers, doing so though will reduce the amount of available capital.
10 posted on 08/18/2011 10:38:44 AM PDT by CriticalThinking
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To: SeekAndFind
Dear LA Times,

According to the IRS those paying taxes on income $1 million or over last year was 235,000. Suppose you tax at 100% all income over the magic $250,000 mark President 0 is always gassing on about. How much do you get? Let's round up and be as generous as possible.

You get about $300 billion. That is just about enough to run the Fed Govt for a single month.

You cannot tax your way out of this fiscal mess "Progressives".

11 posted on 08/18/2011 10:44:19 AM PDT by MNJohnnie (Giving politicians more tax money is like giving addicts free drugs to cure their addiction)
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To: SeekAndFind

Barf alert???


12 posted on 08/18/2011 10:44:57 AM PDT by aMorePerfectUnion (This message carfully checkd to misteakes by powerful softwhere)
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To: SeekAndFind
BS. Two big differences:
- Reagan combined closing loopholes with major cuts in tax rates, which was stiulative. Buffet doesn't advocate tax-rate reduction - big, big difference.
- Reagan didn't have an ulterior selfish motive while Buffet has insurance companies that stand to lose a lot of money if taxes aren't increased.
13 posted on 08/18/2011 10:46:17 AM PDT by expatpat
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To: SeekAndFind
BS. Two big differences:
- Reagan combined closing loopholes with major cuts in tax rates, which was stimulative. Buffet doesn't advocate tax-rate reduction - big, big difference.
- Reagan didn't have an ulterior selfish motive while Buffet has insurance companies that stand to lose a lot of money if taxes aren't increased.
14 posted on 08/18/2011 10:46:32 AM PDT by expatpat
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To: freeangel

RE: There is absolutely nothing stopping these ultrarich self indulgent and preachy gazillionaires from sending in an extra check to the government if they feel they are not paying enough.

__________________________________________________________________________

You have to understand what Buffer really wants.

A brillant man like him does not need people to tell him that he can send a check anytime he wants. But that is not what he wants to do.

We must Understand Warren Buffet’s “Tax-me-more” mentality...

First, let’s talk about the issue of -— “He can always write a check to Uncle Sam”.

I don’t think the man got to be Billionaire because he is stupid and doesn’t know that he can donate his money to Uncle Sam anytime he likes. HE KNOWS THAT, sohe does not need anyone’s advise.

Anyone calling for him to write a blank check to the government can’t see the forest through the trees.

Buffet knows that a “donation” to the US government (which is effectively what most FReepers are asking him to do) won’t even make a ripple in the government revenue stream.

But I think that he’s thinking -— If he asks everyone of the “super-rich” to do it with me (which is exactly the point of his article), then it makes more sense because of the COLLECTIVE amount.

So, if his Collective Amount is viewed from his own lenses, then, Buffet’s “I’m only going to do it if you make me” argument would make perfect sense.

He’s waiting to donate his money to the Gates Foundation because he knows that the best way to make an impact is for compounding to continue to work until he no longer has any control over it (aka death). The Gates Foundation is well funded until then, and probably has no immediate use of the money.

Anybody who has followed the career of the man will begin to understand his thinking -— Spending is an issue, but so is income inequality and THAT is what Buffet thinks he is trying to address... FAIRNESS ( misguided as he is ).

Buffet believes that sooner or later the income gap will shrink - either by choice or by force. I’m pretty sure he doesn’t want the latter (not that he would be around to see it.).

Just trying to go into the mind of the man folks, to find out why he’s asking to be taxed more.


15 posted on 08/18/2011 10:47:40 AM PDT by SeekAndFind (u)
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To: SeekAndFind
Buffet is prevaricator. I listened to his 2007 interview with Tom Brokaw. He stated that his secretary paid 15% payroll taxes. It just shows how little he knows about taxes.

Half of the tax is paid by the employer. His secretary pays no more than 7.5% payroll taxes. According to other sources his secretary earned $60,000. With one exemption, and the standard deduction she pays approximately $8000 which is around 13%. Not even close to more than 30% rate.

Buffet is ignoring the fact that Berkshire Hathaway as a C corporation pays corporate taxes. This years proxy shows that they paid at least 29%. Any capital gains distributed to Buffet would be taxed at 15%. So his rate is actually 44%. This does not even include his $175,000 wages and salary as reported by the company.

Buffet wants higher death taxes, because his insurance companies benefit from estate tax planning and sale of life insurance to pay the tax.

He advocated a tax code in this interview, based on consumption(not sales tax). Everyone has all their money in an unlimited IRA. It is only taxed when withdrawn from the IRA. Any one doubt that such an arrangement would benefit his business?

His comments are self serving and obviously less than a true picture of what he claims. I say prove what you are saying - show me all the tax returns.

16 posted on 08/18/2011 10:48:29 AM PDT by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Under the Tax Reform Act of 1986, which was signed by President Reagan, the number of tax brackets was reduced, loopholes were closed, the top tax rate was lowered and capital gains were taxed at the same rate as ordinary income.

And in return for the this compromise, the democrats promised to overhaul spending, including entitlement reform. All these years later, the democrats have continually thumbed their noses at any attempts to hold them to their end of the bargain. Meanwhile, those "loopholes" (some of them deductions taken primarily by the middle class) remained closed and the lower rates were gradually increased several times. Capital gains SHOULD be taxed at a lower rate if at all. Also, capital gains should be indexed for inflation; they are not.

The idea that Buffet's proposals for increasing capital gains taxes, or for increasing payroll taxes on higher wage incomes, or any of his other "tax-the-hell-out-of-the-upper-middle-class-so-they-can-never-approach-my-level-of-obscene-wealth" proposals are even remotely like Reagan's tax philosophy is completely ridiculous and idiotic. Reagan compromised with the democrats and signed THEIR tax reform law; it was NOT his proposal and had he known the rats would reneg on their end of the bargain he would have vetoed it.

17 posted on 08/18/2011 10:50:43 AM PDT by VRWCmember
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To: SeekAndFind
"The mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15 percent on most of their earnings but pay practically nothing in payroll taxes," Buffett wrote. "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."

I thought that the mega-rich have tons of tax lawyers and accountants to ensure that they pay minimal taxes. The mega-rich also donate many dollars to candidates that support their quest to avoid taxes.

Perhaps big boy Buffett can write an extra check or two, or report taxable income that falls on the tax side of the ledger.

Perhaps he can point out the loopholes that the mega-rich pay for and use, and help to close them.

18 posted on 08/18/2011 10:51:35 AM PDT by olezip
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To: CriticalThinking
Thanks for the first thoughtful intelligent comment in this post. It is a pleasure to read something free of name calling, insults and exaggeration. You said:

The article total ignores the double taxation issue. Corporations pay a 35% tax rate. The remaining profits are sent out as dividends or retained, driving up share price. There is a further tax on that gain. So Mr. Buffet is paying, actually a much higher rate than he claims. It may seem fare to raise taxes on capital providers, doing so though will reduce the amount of available capital.

I disagree with you on a few points:

Very few, if any corporations pay anything near the 35% rate. Many pay little if any tax at all.

I am retired and live off the returns from stock mutual funds. The taxes on the corporations whose stock I own does indirectly effect my return, but I still get a good return. If the taxes on that return were higher it would not keep me from investing. I think this is true of most investors.

Double taxation exists everywhere, not just on the returns from stocks. For example I pay income tax, then buy something and pay sales tax. I could list lots of examples but I am sure you see my point.

19 posted on 08/18/2011 10:51:51 AM PDT by RonBush
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To: SeekAndFind

See my post #16


20 posted on 08/18/2011 10:54:50 AM PDT by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: olezip

If that idiot wants more taxes I suggest a Wealth Tax of 10% on their net worth every year. Because he pays NO taxes on his accumulated wealth and loop holes his income tax.


21 posted on 08/18/2011 10:55:20 AM PDT by JayAr36
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To: Tublecane; RonBush

See my post #16


22 posted on 08/18/2011 10:56:24 AM PDT by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Yeah, Reagan was ALL about raising top-bracket rates and LOVED the fact that the 1986 compromise DIDN’T tax capital gains at a lower rate than ordinary income. EXACTLY in agreement with Buffett’s op-ed.

/sarc

Freaking liars. They take two bits of a 1,000-part compromise — parts that Reagan opposed, taken individually — and say that they were “Reagan’s IDEAS” because Reagan agreed to the package as a whole.


23 posted on 08/18/2011 10:57:58 AM PDT by pogo101
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To: greeneyes

You’ll see those tax returns right after Obama’s college transcipts and John F’n Kerry’s DD214.


24 posted on 08/18/2011 10:58:19 AM PDT by WOBBLY BOB (My mind is like a steel trap: rusty and illegal in 37 states.)
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To: SeekAndFind
Just trying to go into the mind of the man folks, to find out why he’s asking to be taxed more.

He's not really asking to be taxed more. He knows how to shield his money from taxation. He is really asking to tax the hell out of the upper middle class. He and his ilk are trying to use the progressive tax code to further insulate themselves from those lower income people who keep trying to move up the ladder.

25 posted on 08/18/2011 11:00:41 AM PDT by VRWCmember
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To: greeneyes
Any capital gains distributed to Buffet would be taxed at 15%. So his rate is actually 44%. This does not even include his $175,000 wages and salary as reported by the company.

One minor nitpick: You are confusing dividend taxes with capital gains taxes. Capital gains are not distributed out of corporate income. Capital gains (or losses) are realized by the selling of investment assets.

26 posted on 08/18/2011 11:03:41 AM PDT by VRWCmember
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To: VRWCmember
Rather than lower taxes, and broaden the base(IE-everyone pays taxes, not just 50% of us) Worried Buffoon would rather tax a select group of his liking.

Selective "targeted taxation" /"targeted tax cuts" is what lead to all these "loopholes" Worried Buffoon is lamenting.

27 posted on 08/18/2011 11:07:11 AM PDT by WOBBLY BOB (My mind is like a steel trap: rusty and illegal in 37 states.)
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To: RonBush

You are right see my post #16. Buffet’s company paid $5607 million in taxes and reported $19,051 million pretax income.
That’s just a bit under 30%

In addition, simply adding the payroll tax %, ignores the fact that it is eventually returned to the person under a formula that returns more percentage wise to those who had lower incomes during their working years.


28 posted on 08/18/2011 11:08:11 AM PDT by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: olezip

“I thought that the mega-rich have tons of tax lawyers and accountants to ensure that they pay minimal taxes. The mega-rich also donate many dollars to candidates that support their quest to avoid taxes.”

Yes, they do. But I’ve always found criticizing them for this akin to yelling at a kid for running away from a bully. There’s only so much taxing a man will allow, and above a certain point he just won’t pay. Loophole hunting, avoidance, evasion, etc., like “breakage” or “leakage” in the private sector, are the costs of doing government business.


29 posted on 08/18/2011 11:26:22 AM PDT by Tublecane
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To: VRWCmember

“You are confusing dividend taxes with capital gains taxes. Capital gains are not distributed out of corporate income. Capital gains (or losses) are realized by the selling of investment assets.”

No, I was ignoring for simplicity the dividend tax. I was also using what Buffet said in the interview. HE said he only had to pay 15% on CAPITAL GAINS.

Mutual Funds do make distributions of both capital gains and dividends, so if the holding company owns mutual funds I would assume that mechanism would also be available, but again, I was just relying on what Buffet said.

Is it possible that Buffet is equally confused about capital gains and payroll taxes? He did claim that his secretary paid 15% payroll taxes in that same interview.


30 posted on 08/18/2011 11:29:04 AM PDT by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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To: CriticalThinking

“The article total ignores the double taxation issue.”

So does all of the mainstream media. The apparent counterintuitivity of Buffet’s secretarial anecdote is too juicy to pass up, no matter how misleading.

Hey, you know what? If it seems odd that Buffet is taxed less than his secretary, he’s probably not taxed less than his secretary, you boob.


31 posted on 08/18/2011 11:31:31 AM PDT by Tublecane
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To: RonBush

“I think his point is that it is not fair that the rich pay less than the middle class and the tax code should change”

His point is a lie. Any idiot knows the rich—or perhaps I should say “the rich,” but that’s another argument—pay more than the middle class. Buffet is shucking, jiving, and puffing up smoke screens in an effort to portray the tax code as imbalanced.

Back in reality, the balance is tipped entirely against the rich. Duh, they’re the ones with the money, and the rest of us have the votes. Squeezing ever more dough out of them only makes things ever more unbalanced. Not that leftists care. But they do figure you care, and as such have no shame in lying to appease you.


32 posted on 08/18/2011 11:43:56 AM PDT by Tublecane
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To: WOBBLY BOB

“Selective ‘targeted taxation’ /’targeted tax cuts’ is what lead to all these ‘loopholes’ Worried Buffoon is lamenting.”

I’ve always wondered why this sort of thing doesn’t violate bills of attainder or equal protection, since every other group under the sun is apparently able to invoke it. I’m sure SCOTUS has babbled on about how the wealthy can be discriminated against because we say so, but I frankly don’t see how special tax classes are any different than other forms of discrimination.

By the way, this is all assuming current trends in equal protection thought (or should I say feeling). In my perfect world rights talk would be much, much, much more limited.


33 posted on 08/18/2011 11:51:11 AM PDT by Tublecane
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To: pogo101

“Freaking liars. They take two bits of a 1,000-part compromise — parts that Reagan opposed, taken individually — and say that they were ‘Reagan’s IDEAS’ because Reagan agreed to the package as a whole.”

According to this model oughtn’t Bush II, given his veto allergies, get credit for the mighty achievements of the Democratic Congress during his term? Remember before the One ascended to Washington and Nancy Pelosi was the Most Powerful Woman in the World? Well, Bush was totally on board, Jack. He was right there with her. Where’s his due?


34 posted on 08/18/2011 11:58:05 AM PDT by Tublecane
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To: RonBush

You said,

“Buffett did give a huge amount of money to the Gates foundation...I don’t understand all the negativity towards Buffett here.”

Well, let’s think about that — and use some public information to rough out what actually happened.

Mr. Buffet’s “gift” was reported to be $31 billion.

But his gift was not cash. It was shares of Berkshire Hathaway stock “worth” $31 billion. How many shares? At a reported share price of $130,000, that would be about 250,000 shares.

So how much did those shares actually COST Mr. Buffett? A “initial” price for Berkshire Hathaway shares of $11.50 per share was reported. That indicates the total cost to Mr. Buffett was about $3,000,000.

So let’s see Mr. Buffett’s silent partner here, the US taxpayer, benefits from this gift.

Case A:

Mr. Buffet buys shares for of Berkshire Hathaway for $3MM.
He sells them in 2011 for $31 billion. Capital gains are $30.997 billion. Capital Gains taxes (at 15%) are $4.7 billion.
Mr Buffet’s “net” capiptal gians income is $26.3 billion, which he gives to the Gates Foundation. In his 35% tax bracket, that gift reduces Mr. Buffett’s tax liability on other income by $9.2 billion.

Net, net, the cost to the US Treasury of Mr. Buffet’s gift is $4.5 billion.

[tax paid of $4.7 billion less $9.2 billion not paid = $4.5 billion]

Case B:

Value deducted for gift: $31.00 billion
Tax saved by Mr. Buffett: $10.85 billion
Net cost to US Treasury: $10.85 billion

Tax benefit to Mr. Buffett
of his gift of shares: $4.5 billion

So, we see it is still possible to “do well” by “doing good”. If Mr. Buffett were lobbying to “cap” charitable deductions at say $1 million per year, I would respect him more.


35 posted on 08/18/2011 12:42:44 PM PDT by pfony1
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To: RonBush
I think his point is that it is not fair that the rich pay less than the middle class and the tax code should change.

Are you sure? Or is the LA Times Editorial attempting to make the point that Reagan would support the Democrats in their bid to raise taxes "on the rich"?

You got to look back and remember why Reagan signed the 1986 Tax Reform Act. The Democrats, as usual, wanted to increase taxes. Reagan did not. A deal was struck where dozens of write-offs were written out of the code in exchange for simplification, with the understanding that the lower tax rates were put in place to balance out the removal of the write-offs.

Of course look how long that lasted before the Democrats started whining about raising taxes again.

36 posted on 08/18/2011 12:45:36 PM PDT by VeniVidiVici ("Si, se gimme!")
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To: SeekAndFind

There is no solution to today’s economic problems nor any basis for a future economy that reasonably includes a tax increase on the people who make jobs. If one wants to increase taxes, do so on the 50% who presently pay no federal tax so they can have some skin in the game. Call it an educational program so these wastrels can understand what the rest of us already know; the cost of government is largely a waste.


37 posted on 08/18/2011 12:55:04 PM PDT by muir_redwoods (Somewhere in Kenya, a village is missing an idiot)
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To: greeneyes

Dividends are taxed as ordinary income, along with taxable interest. Capital Gains are taxed at the lower long-term capital gains tax rate.

When you talk about double taxation due to corporate income being taxed and then the individual paying tax when the capital gains are distributed (those were the words you used) then you are describing dividend taxes but calling them capital gains taxes.


38 posted on 08/18/2011 1:20:19 PM PDT by VRWCmember
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To: VRWCmember
What I said was, “Any capital gains distributed to Buffet would be taxed at 15%.” That is a true statement. I did not enter into whether or not he did or did not receive capital gains.

The several articles and interviews stated that the main reason given for the discrepancy was that Buffet paid 15% capital gains tax.

Berkshire Hathaway has many holdings and could include mutual funds which do have the ability to distribute capital gains, so I was not about to say Buffet received Dividends since all the documentation I had seen was saying he received capital gains.

I simply chose to ignore the issue rather than spend time researching to see if Buffet received capital gains from a mutual fund, or dividends from the corporation. Besides I thought the post was long enough to begin with.

The point was the double taxation he was ignoring not capital gains vs dividends. I do agree that it is highly likely that he actually received dividends. However, I have neither the time nor the inclination to prove it, and saw no reason to include it in my post.

39 posted on 08/18/2011 6:11:40 PM PDT by greeneyes (Moderation in defense of your country is NO virtue. Let Freedom Ring.)
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