One of the most talked about, linked to and Twittered news articles today is one written by one of the wealthiest men in the world. He's renowned investor, phenonimally rich, personally frugal and the creator of The Giving Pledge, which urges billionaires to give away huge swaths of their fortune to the less fortunate.
You'd be hard pressed to find many people who want their taxes raised, but Warren Buffet thinks the super-rich in America have been "coddled" for far too long:
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. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
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.
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.
If you make money with money, as some of my super-rich friends do, your percentage may be a bit lower than mine. But if you earn money from a job, your percentage will surely exceed mine — most likely by a lot.
I encourage you to read this article in full. It's not very long, and it's a really powerful piece of writing that simply spells out exactly how unfair the current system is.
What do you think about Buffet's piece? Do you agree that the uber-wealthy should pay more into the American tax system? Let us know your thoughts on this "hot topic" in the comments.
[Photo by Michael Reuter]