Warren Buffet made headlines with his op-ed in the New York times calling for higher taxes on those he defines as rich. The most direct criticism of Mr. Buffet’s claim that the rich are being “coddled” is that while the effective tax rate on the rich has hardly changed since the 1980s, those in the lower income quintiles pay dramatically less taxes from that time. Additionally, Mr. Buffet’s claims that the middle class pays a larger share of their income has also been shown to be wrong.
The latest criticism that cuts away at Mr. Buffet’s argument is his clear hypocrisy in making the claim.
But if he were truly sincere, perhaps he might simply try paying the taxes the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) says his company owes? According to Berkshire Hathaway’s own annual report — see Note 15 on pp. 54-56 — the company has been in a years-long dispute over its federal tax bills.
According to the report, “We anticipate that we will resolve all adjustments proposed by the U.S. Internal Revenue Service (‘IRS’) for the 2002 through 2004 tax years at the IRS Appeals Division within the next 12 months. The IRS has completed its examination of our consolidated U.S. federal income tax returns for the 2005 and 2006 tax years and the proposed adjustments are currently being reviewed by the IRS Appeals Division process. The IRS is currently auditing our consolidated U.S. federal income tax returns for the 2007 through 2009 tax years.”
Maybe Mr. Buffet should take a good look in the mirror before asking other people to pay what he things is their fair share.