Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett, Earth’s second-wealthiest inhabitant, complains that last year he paid only $6,938,744 in federal income taxes, which is just 17.4 percent of his taxable income. Despite earning much less than he did, 20 of his staffers had tax burdens which “ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent,” Buffet recently wrote. But rather than work to cut his colleagues’ taxes, the 50 Billion Dollar Man wants Uncle Sam to hike his liability.
Buffett is not alone. Other loaded luminaries also lust for higher taxes:
• “George Soros says he agrees and congratulates Warren Buffett,” the financier’s spokesman told Reuters. “The rich are hurting their own long term interests by their opposition to paying more taxes.”
“I’m Matt Damon.”
• “It’s criminal that so little is asked of people who are getting so much,” Academy Award winner Matt Damon told video journalist Nicholas Ballasy July 30. “I really don’t mind paying more taxes,” the actor added. “Why don’t you just tax the really rich — guys like me — or raise it to 50 percent after $50 million?”
• Best-selling novelist Stephen King, author of The Shining, Misery, and numerous other spooky books, seems haunted by disappointment at not sending more of his royalties to Washington. “As a rich person, I pay 28 percent tax,” he told a Florida rally last spring. “What I want to ask you is, Why am I not paying 50 [percent]?”
• A group called Patriotic Millionaires asked Pres. Barack Obama, Senate Democratic leader Harry Reid of Nevada, and House Speaker John Boehner (R., Ohio) for higher taxes on incomes above $1 million. “We make this request as loyal citizens who now or in the past earned an income of $1,000,000 per year or more,” states their July 21 letter, which bears 137 signatures. “Please do the right thing for our country. Raise our taxes.”
This plutocratic taxophilia springs from a myth that is as enduring as the Loch Ness Monster. Assistant House Democratic leader James Clyburn of South Carolina echoed it faithfully when he told MSNBC on July 25 that “98 percent of the American people are carrying this [tax] load while the other 2 percent seem to be getting away scot-free.”
The facts easily torpedo this unsinkable rubbish.
In 2008, the latest Internal Revenue Service figures confirm, the top 1 percent of tax filers earned 20 percent of adjusted gross income and paid 38 percent of income-tax revenues. The top 5 percent earned 34.7 percent of AGI and paid 58.7 percent of income taxes. The top 10 percent earned 45.8 percent of AGI and paid 69.9 percent of income taxes. Meanwhile, as the Tax Foundation’s analysis revealed, the bottom 50 percent earned 12.75 percent of AGI and paid 2.7 percent of income-tax revenues.
Regarding all federal taxes (capital gains, corporate, death, dividends, excise, income, payroll) an April 2009 Congressional Budget Office study found that for 2006 (the latest numbers), the top 1 percent paid 28.3 percent of all federal taxes. The top 5 percent paid 44.7 percent, and the top 10 percent paid 55.4 percent of taxes. The bottom 40 percent paid just 4.9 percent of all federal taxes in 2006.
Rich liberals seem frightfully ignorant that the data very clearly demonstrate how the tax code soaks the wealthy, while letting the economy’s bottom half escape scot-free.