The Corner

Buffett’s Secretary Likely Makes over $200K (UPDATED)

Paul Roderick Gregory, a contributor to Forbes, figures that Warren Buffett’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, must be raking in the dough:

Insofar as Buffet (like Mitt Romney) earns income primarily from capital gains, which are taxed at 15 percent (and according to Obama need to be raised for reasons of fairness), we need to determine how much income a taxpayer like Bosanek must earn in order to pay an average tax rate above fifteen percent. This is easy to do.

The IRS publishes detailed tax tables by income level. The latest results are for 2009. They show that taxpayers earning an adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $200,000 pay an average rate of twelve percent. This is below Buffet’s rate; so she must earn more than that. Taxpayers earning adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 to $500,000, pay an average tax rate of nineteen percent. Therefore Buffet must pay Debbie Bosanke a salary above two hundred thousand. [Emphasis mine]

In an interview with ABC News, Bosanek says she pays a tax rate of 35.8 percent, while Buffett says he pays a rate of 17.4 percent.

Does that mean President Obama wants to raise both his and her taxes?

UPDATE: Well, maybe not. Josh Barro reports:

Anybody living solely off wage and salary income and making less than about $110,000 per year pays payroll tax–including the employer part–at an effective rate of 15.3 percent. So, most any wage-earner with a non-trivial income tax liability is going to be paying federal tax at a higher effective rate than Buffett.

Now, if Buffett’s staff isn’t just paying a higher rate than him, but a much higher rate, it’s probably true that they’re all highly paid, including Bosanek.* But even if she were making $60,000, she’d probably still be paying more than him.


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