Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Coddling the Super-Rich?

In August of 2011 legendary investor Warren Buffett wrote an editorial in the New York Times entitled, “Stop Coddling the Super-Rich.” In the editorial Buffett argued that the rich have not been asked to pay their fair share and should have their taxes increased. What really resonated with many was Buffett’s argument that he should not be paying a lower tax rate than his secretary. President Obama quickly adopted the phrase and used it in support of his position of increasing taxes on the upper class.

In the editorial Buffett asserts that he paid a 17.4% tax rate in 2010 while others in his office averaged a 36% rate. Instead of shock and/or anger, the numbers triggered a red flag for me. The U.S. has a progressive taxation system - rates progress higher as your income increases. Buffett’s rate was unusually low. he average effective income tax rate for a person making over $10,000,000 in 2009 was 27% (see chart below). I also knew that a 36% average effective rate seemed unusually high. Something was amiss.

[oddly no comments yet]

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Warren Buffett isn’t the only rich guy who wants to higher taxes on the rich. [who's writing this, Cesar Millan?]

A new survey from Spectrem Group found that 68% of millionaires (those with investments of $1 million or more)  support raising taxes on those with $1 million or more in income. Fully 61% of those with net worths of $5 million or more support the tax on million-plus earners.

Buffett, as you might recall, has proposed raising taxes on million-plus earners, saying the ultra-rich pay lower rates than everyday workers.

Rich people’s opinions of Buffett remain fairly positive in the wake of his tax-me-more crusade. More than a third of millionaires and ultra-high-net-worths said they have a more positive opinion of Buffett after his tax proposal. Only 19% of millionaires and 22% of the $5 million -plus group said they had a more negative opinion of him after the proposal.

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