Warren Buffett's Urge To Congress: Tax the 'Mega-Rich'

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The billionaire penned an essay revealing his thoughts on the financial crisis and what he paid in taxes last year.

Warren Buffett is looking to part with a larger portion of his billions next year. 

The Berkshire Hathaway chairman and chief executive penned an op-ed for the New York Times Sunday arguing that in order to solve the U.S.' current financial crisis, taxes need to be raised on the mega-rich.

Buffett revealed that last year, he paid $6,938,744 in federal taxes. But, while the price tag was steep, the actual percentage of his taxable income was low: 17.4 percent. The billionaire paid the lowest percentage out of anyone at his company, which averaged a 36 percent tax rate. 

"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," writes Buffett. "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."

And the billionaire says he isn't alone in his opinion. 

"I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering."

Buffett advised Congress' 12-person team to leave the tax rates for 99.7 percent of Americans as is, but says an increase is due for the other 0.3 percent. 

"For those making more than $1 million — there were 236,883 such households in 2009 — I would raise rates immediately on taxable income in excess of $1 million, including, of course, dividends and capital gains. And for those who make $10 million or more — there were 8,274 in 2009 — I would suggest an additional increase in rate.

My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress. It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

 

 
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