Monday, October 17, 2011

Walk The Talk

What Warren Buffett Made (and Paid in Taxes) in 2010
By Jill Schlesinger | 12 October 2011

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett made $63 million and paid $6.9 million in taxes. Why do we know this juicy fact? Because Buffett and Representative Tim Huelskamp (R-KS) have been engaged in a war of the words and it looks like Buffett has won this round.

Here’s the background: after Buffett penned the now-famous New York Times op-ed (”Stop Coddling the Super-Rich“), in which he argued that the wealthiest Americans should pay more in taxes, Huelskamp demanded that Buffett release his tax returns to prove his thesis.

Buffett was happy to oblige. In a letter to the Congressman, which he shared with CNNMoney, the Oracle of Omaha said that he would be delighted to release his returns, as long as other ultra-rich Americans would do the same. Short of that long-shot, he spelled out the numbers to make his case:

My adjusted gross income (line 37) was $62,855,038, my taxable income (line 43) was $39,814,784 and my federal income tax (line 60) was $6,923,494. In addition, my payroll taxes were $15,300.

Buffett didn’t do the math for Huelskamp, but based on these numbers, Buffett paid taxes totaling 17.4 percent of his $39.8 million in taxable income, a level that is far lower than the average American who pays something closer to 30-something percent. Buffett challenged Huelskamp to find out the average tax paid by his co-workers, guessing that “it’s likely that a very large percentage Senators and Representatives and their staffs, will be in the 30’s as well. Contrast that to the 21.4% enjoyed in 2008 by the 400 highest-income Americans whose income averaged $227 million each.”

Buffett also pointed out that this elite group has seen “their incomes quintuple since 1992 while their tax rate fell by more than seven percentage points.”

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