Is Warren Buffett a hypocrite?

Is the Oracle of Omaha a hypocrite?  He is, according to the New York Post.  For those with faulty memories or who simply weren’t paying attention, Warren Buffett wrote an op-ed claiming that he and his fellow “mega-rich” weren’t really paying enough in taxes.  Obviously, this tore through the internet with both sides battling over Buffett’s arguments.  However, the Post claims that despite Buffett’s claims that he’s not taxed enough, his own company hasn’t even paid what it owes.

This one’s truly, uh … rich: Billionaire Warren Buffett says folks like him should have to pay more taxes — but it turns out his firm, Berkshire Hathaway, hasn’t paid what it’s already owed for years.

That’s right: As Americans for Limited Government President Bill Wilson notes, the company openly admits that it owes back taxes since as long ago as 2002.

“We anticipate that we will resolve all adjustments proposed by the US Internal Revenue Service (“IRS”) for the 2002 through 2004 tax years … within the next 12 months,” the firm’s annual report says.

It also cites outstanding tax issues for 2005 through 2009.

Um…oops?

Buffett is free to argue any position he wishes.  However, if he truly feels that he isn’t taxed enough, then why hasn’t Berkshire Hathaway, that he is chairman and CEO of, paid their taxes?  Or maybe it’s as the Post suggests, that he only wants to shill for President Obama.

Personally, I don’t know.  What I do know is that before I take Buffett seriously on tax policy, I want to see Berkshire Hathaway step up and pay all of their back taxes.  After all, if you are arguing that the rules aren’t strict enough, you should probably show you can play by what’s currently there first.

For the record, yet again, these folks who feel like they’re not taxed enough are free to pay more to the government.  There is an option on tax return form that permits individuals who want to pay more to send extra in.  This is supposed to go to pay down the national debt.  It’s purely voluntary, yet so many folks don’t take advantage of it.  Instead, they argue to raise taxes on you and me.

Also for the record, Buffett is taxed on capital gains rates because his income is primarily from investments.  This is the exact same type of tax rate retirees often pay on their retirement investments.  Buffett’s suggestions would either complicate the tax code even more, or negatively impact millions of retirees.  Making this change right before the Baby Boomers retire could get ugly.

Of course, one has to wonder if Buffett would actually pay the new rates or not.  After all, it doesn’t look like his company is going to bother to do it.


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