Skip to comments.Washington Post: Taxing the rich fairly can be done — and would raise revenue
Posted on 08/24/2011 2:38:56 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
IT HAS BEEN a little over a week since billionaire Warren Buffett called for higher taxes on the richest Americans, and now comes the reaction. Harvey Golub, a former chairman and chief executive of American Express, writes in the Wall Street Journal that he resents Mr. Buffetts suggestion. I already pay plenty of taxes, Mr. Golub asserts, adding: Before you ask for more tax money from me and others, raise the $2.2 trillion you already collect each year more fairly and spend it more wisely.
Whos right? Mr. Golub points out that almost half of the population pays no income tax, and that the very top earners 250,000 Americans who make $1 million or more per year already pay 20 percent of the total. State income taxes are often quite high, especially in places where the rich cluster, such as New York, New Jersey and California yet, notes Mr. Golub, Mr. Buffett doesnt factor that in. The current code is replete with favors to various interest groups and industries, as Mr. Golub puts it, from the mortgage-interest deduction to the exemption for employer-paid health benefits. On top of that, the government wastes a lot of money on farm subsidies and duplicative job-training programs.
All true. But this doesnt really refute Mr. Buffett, whose main argument that the burden of deficit-reduction should fall most heavily on the well-to-do Mr. Golub doesnt dispute. Mr. Buffett acknowledged that higher taxes on the very rich should be part of a deficit-cutting package that also tackles excessive entitlement spending. Unlike Mr. Golub, he noted that lower-income people who dont pay income taxes do pay substantial payroll taxes, which are less progressive.
More to the point, theres no contradiction between Mr. Golubs attack on tax expenditures and Mr. Buffetts lament,
(Excerpt) Read more at washingtonpost.com ...
Clarification: We should have noted, for disclosure purposes, that Berkshire Hathaway, which Mr. Buffett heads, owns a substantial minority stake in The Washington Post Co. and that Mr. Buffett is a former longtime member of the companys board of directors.
1 I have no desire for the wealthy to take their money out of the private economy and give it to the government.
2 Just wondering, can the poor be taxed “fairly”? It astounds me we talk about paying a fair share when 50% pay nothing.
Well if it could work then it could create problems for the “anti tax” crowd, if which i am proudly a member. Whose really gonna object to a system where the richest 1 % of Americans get higher taxes and the resulting revenue being used to eliminate debt and give more $$ to health care, education, research funding-NSF grants and what not-and other sources ? Now, I would love taxes as low as possible for everyone in our nation, but how do you convince the other 99 % of Americans that a plan to effectively increase taxes for the top 1 % is a bad thing ?
The reason that investment gains are taxed at a lower rate is because we want to encourage people to invest in the companies that will build the economy. If we were serious about economic growth, we would cut the LTCG rate to 0%, and cut the top marginal income tax rate to 20%, while cutting a whole lot of spending.
next up. homeless to begin hiring. cause, hey, they’ve not nothing else to do.
Thing is increasing taxes will only trigger increased spending, the liberals don't want to get the economy under control, they just want more to spend.
All the "fairness" rhetoric is just so much bullshat!
Fair = tax everybody. Don’t pay the working poor to not pay taxes.
Taxing the rich is merely getting an advance on the death tax. In the long run its going to cost us more. We are long term investors in the assets of the wealthy because of the estate taxes.
If we draw down our share of their wealth now we are reducing our long term investment return. If we assume the wealthy are going to achieve a greater return than the borrowing costs of our debt then long-term we have made a bad financial deal.
let’s raise taxes on those who voted for obama.
Just wondering, can the poor be taxed fairly?
It astounds me we talk about paying a fair share when 50% pay nothing.
No, the burden of deficit-reduction should fall most heavily on those spending the money in the first place. The problem isn't insufficient revenue. The problem is massively excessive spending.
When has giving money to an addict ever gone to eliminate the addicts debts? Most rational folks realize that any additional tax revenue is not ever going to reduce the debt. Its just going to be spent.
Give an alcoholic or a gambler or a drug addict money to get them back on their feet before they recognize they have a problem and they are dealing with it is never going to help.
Give this current group of politicians the total income of even the top 25% of all Americans and this group will find reasons to spend it and never use one dime to reduce the debt.
Is government going to risk the money in a business to make more money...thus providing jobs?
Or is government going to give that money away...to people they think will vote for them...in the next election?
The rich don’t have enough money to cover the cost of Obama’s vision of America. And there’s no guarantee that Obama or Congress won’t out spend revenue, reagrdless of how much money is brought in. When hundreds of millions and even billions are vanishing and can’t be accounted for, it’s clear that the government’s thirst for wealth cannot be quenched.
Not even their total income...but their entire assets!!
How many years did we kick around the idea of a “fair tax”? As I understood that, everyone paid the same percentage of their income—whatever it was.
That still seems to me to be the most equitable/efficient way of taxing the population. No long forms to file, no deductions, no lawyers, just pay a percentage of your income that everyone else pays.
This would still be taxing the rich more, as the more you earn, the more you pay, but you pay the same percentage as everyone else.
the additional taxes will do no such thing. Debt will not go down. The deficit will not go down. Taking more money from people already paying the bulk of the tax bill is just going to lead to more freebies and handouts, and less money in the private sector. Less jobs, less investment, less purchasing.
If the government was cut to the point where we had a balanced budget, then we can talk about tactics to reduce the trillions of dollar of debt....possibly through taxation changes. Until then, no one serious can even talk about tax rate increases.
There shouldn’t be a deficit in the first place, there shouldn’t be a discussion on who shoulders the deficit because it is an abhorrent abuse of power
Fair enough. But that could be turned around to argue that getting more $$ from the richest 1 % through higher taxes can also be used for other invaluable purposes as well, not solely to help drug and alcohol addicts who dont really want to be helped.
They can argue that the extra revenue can go towards building up Medicare, funding health care, funding universities for research through higher NSF grants and other sources, and of course more funding for public schools. Even we could agree that more funding for public high schools is completely pointless, what about the other uses for the added revenue ?
To reiterate, I am as anti tax as any FR member here but it would certainly help to be able to come up with the most effective counter arguments to those to believe taxing the richest 1 % -who after all, really dont need or deserve to have that kind of obscene wealth anyway-should be used to fix all kinds of financial crisis we have. It sounds so appealing to so many people who arent rotten rich kids, and so more strong counter arguments are needed.
It's worse than that, when you consider that many who pay zero taxes also get "refunds".
15% excise on all concert tickets and movie revenues, 10% wealth tax on all property derived from income due to entertainment 20% surtax on legal services - that’s fair, isn’t it?
They already do, and always have. Next stupid point...
Increased taxation reduces individual liberty and the ability of the productive sector to resist tyrannical government. That’s what this is really about. Increased taxes never translate into reduced national debt because either revenues fall or if revenue actually increases, the government will spend the money to maintain their power through racketeering.
We need to get more money from the rich so we can afford the welfare state.
The rich pay plenty, the problem is the poor pay nothing.
when nearly 50% pay no income tax, the system is offically broken.
The very wealthy have already protected their estates from the death tax. They set up Foundations and other protected investments.
I don’t think you stopped to actual read my response.
Marxism at its finest. From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs, Comrade.
I agree but the public policy reason of deducting such amounts from the estate is that these organizations provide goods and services which benefit all people and also supplement or provide what the government/public would otherwise have to provide. So, yes we are still borrowing from our future wealth when we take from the wealthy.
The problem is the poor have no idea what they are actually paying that is built in the costs of goods they purchase, the rent they pay, the utilities etc. They merely think they have a free ride and that the Dem politician is the one giving it.
Wonder if the Washington compost is sitting on a big pile of cash. Why won’t they start hiring? Bunch of corporate fat cats lighting their cigars with $100 dollar bills.
Ignorant media thinks none of their poo flinging will ever stick to them. Just wait there wapo. Your dear leader will target you also.
Well I noticed you had pointed out that the current crop of politicians we have would not be able to spend any additional revenue responsibly. True enough, but the point is also about the possibility of finding and electing representatives who could ensure that the tax money goes towards such sources as health care and medicare and funding for research and other such purposes.
So I get the point about how our tax dollars right now would not be used responsibly. But that means that we could not effectively tax the richest 1 % right now - and that for many non rich Americans would simply beg the question-what if we could ? A Large numbers of them see higher education , Medicare, quality doctors and drugs being so hard to afford and inevitably will wonder why the obscenely rich, capable of spending money like it’s going out of style, shouldnt be required to use a bulk of their unnecessary wealth to fund these things. I hear endlessly from people I work with as to why public sectors cant get more federal funding and often it leads to why we cant get more funding from the obscenely rich in our nation. I guess I just wish there were more real economists around to explain about how it doesnt really work that way - Milton Friedman, Thomas Sowell, et al-and could get our news outlets to take decent notes.
Must be nice for Warren Buffet, he’s wealthy enough that he can afford to be a socialist. Problem is, the rest of us poor folks have to suffer the consequences of his advice should anyone be stupid enough to act on it.
The revenue obtained would be very limited, in exchange for disproportionate economic damage. Several articles on it in the conservative mags, ie:
Where did you come up with that one? The real reason is that the very wealthy have effectively lobbied Congress to pass laws so that they can shelter their wealth for their progeny. These charitable or other type Foundations use their wealth to employ the survivors as directors and to use their influence around the globe. Gates and Buffet will use lots of their Foundation money overseas. Americans won't benefit from it.
The issue is the War on Upward Mobility, which is that people earning 1099 income or W2 wages are screwed by all the Government takes.
The people who HAVE ACHIEVED are not taxed on net worth, only gains and income are taxed.
The Liberals and Socialists do not like upward mobility, it creates a company, which COMPETES with their end-all Government, which can never happen.
What is left out about this one-sided comment is that "Capital Gains" comes from investments into business that is already paying federal tax on THEIR profits, thus (yes there are tax loopholes and exceptions) this income has already been taxed once already!
Me personally, I prefer total replacement by consumption taxes that will capture the more of the underground economy. Before the inter-connected economy, this was impractical but now I would like it IF WE CAN KEEP THE IDIOTS from retaining the IRS and the income tax. [Fat chance! Unfortunately!]
The problem with “spending” is that it is too vague...
Meaning, Government workers, despite how necessary are “spending” be it a cop, teacher or middle manager at the EPA.
Our immigrants come here, legally or illegally, and start draining systems they never paid into...anchor babies, refugees, asylum seekers...chain migration...are all people who are are in the red, then we pay Governement workers, for life, to hand out other people’s earnings...
End Social Security now, anyone under 55 gets to privatize their money. Put in, take out...the system has too many takers.
(All true. But this doesnt really refute Mr. Buffett, whose main argument that the burden of deficit-reduction should fall most heavily on the well-to-do)
Euh, the WAPO misses Golub’s main argument, which is that government could fix its deficit problem by not doing things it shouldn’t do, and being more efficient at the things that it has to do.
No kidding. I feel dumber for having read the excerpt. I didn’t go on to the article itself.
Seems to me that the 50% of workers who don’t pay federal income taxes and the 100% of non-workers who pay no taxes at all have zero skin in the game. Rather than letting the non-payers exert their voting majority to force more government support for themselves, I’d like to see no voting rights for anyone who does not pay income taxes. How’s that for fairness?
Thanks! I’ve always gotten the two confused. You have given an excellent definition of each. I appreciate that.
Most of Buffett’s wealth exists because it was never taxed at all. He has owned his shares in Bershire Hathaway for his entire working life. Taxes on cap gains don’t occur until the gains are realized and become taxable. This is true for all company owners. Saying that they get a special tax break (15% on cap gains) is just stupid. They have not received the capital gains as income and have not paid any taxes.
Barry wants money from the rich for the same reason that the IRS does - that is where the money is. Not much point in taxing the poor!
Just try raising the taxes on them and watch the collapse of jobs; that should be convincing. Remember the tax on luxury yachts? Destroyed thousands of jobs as the "rich" simply bought or leased overseas?
Your comments (newbie) sound like you're trolling. And you use of "...the anti tax crowd, if which i am proudly a member" is a dead giveaway.
You define the rich with words such as obscene & rotten rich kids? Do you realize this is all the “media” really shows you? I am mildly rich in my area and I do mean mildly. I know some people you would consider obscenely rich. We as a whole give more to churches, charities and to our communities then is stolen in the name of tax revenue. As conservatives we will never be recognized for this and don’t really care. We care about the people who are helped and nothing more. Our children are taught to work for what they want and do not in any way resemble Paris Hilton and the Hollywood elite that the media props up as examples.
If they want to make sure the rich pay more, illegals and others earning illicit income pay their fair share, it would make more sense to tax consumption (maybe a national sales tax).
God only asks for 10%, why does the government deserve more?
The IRS tables show that the top 25% of wage earners pay 97.3% of all income taxes in 2008. There are some conservative foundations that have crunched the numbers that disprove this meme that rich don't pay their fair share of taxes using income and other taxes.
I am sure you have read that there are not enough rich people to have much of an impact even if we took 100% of their earnings.
Furthermore, every time they have implemented a tax on the “wealthy” or “tax reform” people in the 0 to 28% get hit pretty hard. I read that if the Bush tax cuts expire there are some lower income people who will get a 50% increase in their taxes, and the wealthy will not be hit that hard % wise.
Even if they stick to $250,000, current monetary policy is likely going to lead to double digit inflation. Next thing you know Mr. and Mrs. low and middle income are inflated into the higher brackets.
Buffet is playing loose with the truth. His company paid 29% in taxes for 2010. Whatever distributions he received would pay an additional 15% which totals 44%(not just the 15% he claimed). He would owe additional taxes on his $175,000 salary and director fees. I could not find out info about his other benefits.
In addition to ignoring part of the taxes he pays (corporate tax), he inflates what his employees pay. In a 2007 interview he stated that his employees paid 15% payroll taxes, and averaged a total of around 30% in taxes vs his 15%.
This is incorrect, because the employer pays half of this tax. Also, Social Security is actually a premium paid for old age insurance (they only used the term tax to make it constitutional). Same with Medicare, premiums paid today for future benefits. Many people get out more than they put in.
In his 2007 interview he stated that the best tax would be on consumption (not sales tax though). He thinks it would be great if everyone had an unlimited IRA, and were only taxed when the money was withdrawn. Any surprise that would be very helpful for his bottom-line?
With respect to the death tax (all the money accumulated has already been taxed), he is not opposed to that raising, because the insurance companies he owns benefit from people using estate planning services and the sale of life insurance to fund family limited partnerships and avoid the death tax. Buffet himself plans to avoid this tax through charitable gifts.
Now to capital gains. Buffet states that it wouldn't hurt if capital gains taxes were more. Higher capital gains taxes would encourage long-term holding of stocks which benefits his companies, but for people looking for start up capital investors a higher rate could mean the deal doesn't happen.
Capital gains taxes are not indexed to inflation. What if you built a “spec” house for sale, wound up renting it out for 10 years and then sold it for a “profit”. While renting it, your basis is lowered using depreciation.
The profit during the year of the sale is subject to 15% capital gains tax on the difference between the sale price minus your basis. If you adjusted your basis for inflation, part of the money you get is just the return of capital due to appreciation (a phantom profit you have to pay tax on).
Currently, most people only pay 15% capital gains except for the lower income who pay 10%. Americans who own stocks whether through their IRAs, 401k, or individual holdings all benefit from the lower capital gains rate.
No one is suggesting a tax on wealth, and if you really want to tax the rich, that could work, except they just take it overseas. If you raise income taxes, the wealthy don't care, because they have their income from capital gains or dividends.
If you raise taxes on dividends and capitla gains you hurt old people relying on dividends for income, and young people trying to save for retirement, college for kids, or their first house.
If you raise the death tax, people just set up charitable trusts, but the family owned business has to be sold or the heirs have to go into debt to pay the taxes.
I personally don't believe there is any way to tax the rich with out also taxing or harming someone else with lesser means. All this talk about who to tax and who is not paying enough is just a red herring to keep people from focusing on the real problem which is reducing the size of government, stopping wasteful spending, and enacting entitlement reform.
Repeat at every opportunity: All Americans are taxed enough already. Stop the spending, stop the spending, stop the spending!Hope there is something in this long winded post you can use. LOL.