We’ve had to endure overtures from Warren Buffett and Matt Damon about how they and other wealthy people should be paying a higher tax rate, a problem they could solve by simply visiting Pay.gov, a handy website where individuals can send more money to the federal government if they so desire. But now Stephen King, a brilliant writer, has joined the calls in a post at The Daily Beast:
If millionaires and billionaires like Warren Buffet are so anxious to pay more in taxes, some Republicans in Congress are happy to oblige. No, not by raising their taxes, but by providing an option on their tax return to voluntarily send more money to Washington:
With Buffett concerned that he does not pay enough in taxes, congressional Republicans have introduced legislation to allow Buffett — and others who believe they are under-taxed — the easy option of voluntarily donating to the U.S. Treasury on their tax forms.
South Dakota Senator John Thune and Lousiana Rep. Steve Scalise have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.
Dubbed “The Buffett Rule Act of 2011,” the names of the bills take a mocking swipe at President Barack Obama’s own proposed “Buffet Rule,” which conversely would close tax code loopholes to ensure that Warren Buffett and those like him no longer pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.
According to Thune, there is nothing stopping Buffett from paying more in taxes, and his legislation would streamline that capability.
“If individuals like Warren Buffett or President Obama are inclined to donate their own personal money towards paying down the federal government’s debt, they ought to have that right to do so voluntarily,” said Thune.
Warren Buffett, a billionaire that made a substantial amount of money off the Wall Street bailout and frequently talks about the need to increase taxes, begged Congress in an editorial at The New York Times to make him pay more:
While the poor and middle class fight for us in Afghanistan, and while most Americans struggle to make ends meet, we mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks. Some of us are investment managers who earn billions from our daily labors but are allowed to classify our income as “carried interest,” thereby getting a bargain 15 percent tax rate. Others own stock index futures for 10 minutes and have 60 percent of their gain taxed at 15 percent, as if they’d been long-term investors.
These and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species. It’s nice to have friends in high places.
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
But also, Buffett may be twisting the facts to push his argument. Dan Mitchell, an economist at the Cato Institute, takes note:
His numbers are flawed in two important ways.