William Thien

Archive for September 2012

I heard another news story on The Buffett Rule, an idea floated around more so earlier in the election cycle about tax fairness. On the surface it sounds nice. And I would have to agree, it seems unfair that Warren Buffett pays at a lower tax rate, fifteen percent probably, than his secretary, or whomever for that matter.

But he probably pays a lot more in taxes than his secretary and probably generates quite a few more taxes than his secretary through his investments. Raising taxes for wealthy taxpayers is probably not the answer to the country’s debt problems and it is almost certainly unfair.

Most wealthy taxpayers pay a lot more in taxes than the average taxpayer. One presidential candidate paid $1.9 million in taxes at an effective tax rate of 14.1 percent of his income. But did he and his family use $1.9 million in services? Most wealthy taxpayers pay much more in taxes. For example, someone who makes $45,000 a year may pay at a rate of 30 percent (I don’t know what the exact rate is) and Warren Buffett pays at 15 percent, the capital gains and investment tax rate, a rate half of what the guy who makes $45,000 pays. But even at that rate Warren Buffett most likely pays a much larger amount in taxes, millions perhaps. I don’t know how much Warren Buffett pays in sum total, but it is likely more than someone making $45,000. The guy who makes $45,000 doesn’t pay nearly what Warren Buffett pays. I do think the guy who makes $45,000 probably pays too much in taxes, though. But I don’t think that has anything to do with Warren Buffett.

Yet, that is not really what I’m all about on the matter. I think taxes are too high across the board. If you are simply going to raise taxes on the very wealthy and do nothing to modify the tax code or improve taxes for everyone, Warren Buffett included, then I don’t see the need to raise the taxes on the very wealthy.

What this looks like is just another way to raise taxes with no hope of ever seeing a tax decrease, a decrease for anyone or even a more favorable tax code, and it makes me wonder why Warren Buffett is so eager to comply?

First they will raise taxes on the wealthy. Warren Buffett doesn’t realize it, but he will then become “The Poster Child of Tax Increases.” I can’t see that anyone would want that legacy in America, particularly after having done such wondrous things in the financial sector. Then, to justify raising taxes on everyone else, they will say, well, we’ve raised taxes on the wealthy, now it’s everyone else’s turn. That’s what will happen if they raise Warren Buffett’s taxes, you can bet on it. They will start raising everyone else’s taxes.

And I wonder if Warren Buffett already knows that? He’s a pretty shrewd guy. You think he knows? I bet he does. Maybe not.

Why would Warren Buffett figure on something like that? You think he knows eventually his tax fairness plan would be used to raise everyone else’s taxes? He’s probably determined that well in advance of everyone else or has hired someone who knows tax law so well that they know that’s exactly what would happen, that once they raised Warren Buffett’s taxes, they would raise everyone else’s and say since they raised Warren Buffett’s taxes and those of the wealthy, now it’s everyone else’s turn. I wonder if Warren Buffett knows that will happen? No, it can’t be.

It just…can’t…be! Not Warren Buffett, too! They got to him, ladies and gentlemen. They got to him. Now Warren Buffett is one of them, too!

I like the Buffett family. I listen to music composed by Buffett’s son, Peter. It’s beautiful. I like the Buffett name. They are good people. It’s too bad they got to Warren Buffett.

I am sure there is a better way.

Copyright © William Thien 2012

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Before one can proceed with action towards one’s own government I believe it is suitable to consider the validity and ethicality of such action. I believe this is a dilemma which must be addressed prior to such action in order to justify troop and activity. I believe it is the same dilemma the founding fathers of the country met with when making the decision to raise.

But the circumstances were different, then. The government which the colonists were in revolt with was located an ocean away. And in fact the requirement of levy, the taxes, was much, much less then, than now. I am sure the founding fathers would be surprised we are all not up in arms regarding the levels of taxation we face today and what is being done with the money in comparison to then. In fact, many of you are about to be or could be up in arms, it is clear.

We could debate the matter, examine it from every angle until we were too old to do anything about it. That, ladies and gentlemen is their goal, I am certain.

If one were to compare taxation during the time of the colonies to that of today, one could find ethicality for a tax revolt there in of itself. If one were to compare taxes in the early 1950’s to today, one could find justification for a tax revolt, no question about it.

If one were to ask, “What do I really get for the taxes that I pay and who is the money going to, is it going to women sitting at home and having children out of wedlock?” One could find ethicality for a tax revolt there.

If one were to ask, “I pay and pay and pay and huge fractions of my income simply disappear going to programs of which I see no benefit because I do not fit into one of the clearly defined social categories which the federal government feels should receive tax dollars,” one could find ethicality for a tax revolt there.

If you or someone you know has been attacked or have had possessions burglarized and nothing has come of your contact with officials, no restitution has been paid, you could see the ethicality of a tax revolt there.

But isn’t it merely the huge sums of taxes that we pay, the multiple layers of taxation that justify a tax revolt? Do we really need an entire list of reasons? Isn’t the sheer weight of taxation enough to justify a tax revolt?

Of course it is. You can feel the weight. I know you can.

I can hear you. I can hear you at the cash register when you look at your receipt. I can hear you at the fuel pump when you add gas to your car. I can hear you at the bank when you deposit what remains of your pay after taxes. I can hear you and there is nothing wrong with what you are thinking.

Copyright © William Thien 2012

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