Sunday, September 11, 2011

Warren Buffett's taxes

Greg Mankiw (NYT):

I was disappointed to hear the President tonight raise the canard about Warren Buffett's allegedly low tax rate.  The story is, at the very least, deeply misleading.  I addressed the issue several years ago in this column:
...billionaire investor Warren E. Buffett said that rich guys like him weren’t paying enough. Mr. Buffett asserted that his taxes last year equaled only 17.7 percent of his taxable income, compared with about 30 percent for his receptionist.
... part of the answer is that Mr. Buffett’s income is made up largely of dividends and capital gains, which are taxed at only 15 percent. By contrast, many other top earners pay the maximum ordinary income tax rate of 35 percent on their salaries, bonuses and business income.
... Another piece of the puzzle is that Mr. Buffett’s tax burden is larger than it first appears, because he is a major shareholder in Berkshire Hathaway. ... The corporate tax would undoubtedly loom large if the C.B.O. were to calculate Mr. Buffett’s effective tax rate.
Also, since Obama claims his main concerns are "jobs, jobs, jobs" perhaps he and Mr. Buffett should give their estimates of how many more people Berkshire Hathaway and its subsidiaries (not to mention every other business in America) would be hiring once those tax rates are jacked up.


Dave Hodson said...

Whether you consider the tax rate of wealthly Americans line Mr. Buffett too high or too low, they are certainly lower than what we pay here in Canada.

I'm not even remotely close to the income level of the top US income earners, yet I would be thrilled if I could get my average income tax rate down to 35%. Hell, I'd be happy if my income taxes were to average out to something south of 40%, but then, this is Canada!

JR said...

Amen to that, Dave.