Thursday, March 5, 2015

Warren Buffett's $62 Billion Dollar (And Growing) Tax Deference

Warren Buffett, who regularly calls for higher taxes, does everything he can to delay paying taxes. The man is a walking, talking split personality when it comes to taxes.

FT reports:
Warren Buffett is one of the most famous, and certainly the richest, proponents of raising taxes. What is less often remarked upon is that he is also a leading proponent of delaying tax payments as long as possible.

In the latest and largest example, Mr Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway has been able to defer $61.9bn of corporate taxes, the company revealed in its annual report.

This figure — about eight years worth of taxes at Berkshire’s current rate — is a reminder that Mr Buffett understands how putting off the moment when taxes are due gives him more money today to invest elsewhere...

The total of deferred taxes reported by Berkshire for the end of 2014 is more than five times the level of a decade ago...
But at the same time he employs tax deference schemes, he calls on the government to raise taxes on the rich.

ABC News reports:

  Warren Buffett, one of the richest men in the country, wants to pay more taxes and thinks his super-rich friends should too.

Buffett, who is estimated to be worth more than $47 billion, called on Congress to commit to "shared sacrifice" and raise taxes on people earning more than $1 million. Buffett said the rich are "coddled" by Congress "as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species."...

Buffett, who has spoken out in favor of raising taxes on the rich multiple times, urged the super-committee to increase income taxes for the 236,000 people who earned more than $1 million in 2009, including taxes on investment profits such as capital gains and dividends. For the 8,000 people who made more than $10 million in 2009, Buffett suggested an even higher tax increase...

"People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off," Buffett wrote....



  1. You can bet his hypocrisy will never find its way onto ABC news since his buddies in the administration would never approve of ABC running the story.

  2. Buffet's public position on taxes is a strategy that the ultra rich use to keep their money.

    If he takes a public position that he wants higher taxes, he buys himself protection and popularity and then every one leaves him alone to run the company the way it should be run: make as much money as you can and keep as much as you can.

    Buffet's posture on taxes is fodder for the masses and for the media to consume. When Buffet and Gates come out in favor of higher taxes, the dumb and uneducated think, "Wow these guys are one of us." Instant street credibility! And Buffet and Gates get left alone.

    The "Higher taxes on the rich" posture makes them very popular with politicians and the media. There is no doubt that Warren loves being in the media. And it gives the war on the rich political strategy fresh energy to use during election season.

    In practice, Buffet and Gates obviously do not believe in higher taxes on the rich. If they did, they could easily write a check to the Treasury and appease their pseudo public guilt.

    Their public positions on taxes are pure posturing. That is why Buffet has billions in deferred tax liabilities. Buffet does not believe in paying one red cent more in tax than he absolutely has to pay.

    1. The first thing a man does when he becomes wealthy is pull up the ladder that got him there. Increased taxes on "the rich" are really increased taxes on potential competitors from the middle class. Rich men like Buffet want to stay on top and they use the tax code as a tactic freeze things in place.

      We wouldn't want young, intelligent, productive, hardworking and industrious people challenging the status quo, would we? So use the tax code to hold them down.

    2. Maybe he actually does like paying taxes...just as long as he is picking up more in obscure subsidies and protectionist rackets?

      It always makes me laugh when people say that "the rich" should be taxed more because they control everything, as if they won't expect to get anything out of what they pay!

      He's also never terribly clear on which taxes he wants raised. If it's the inheritance tax, that protects his life insurance business. If it's corporate tax, that impairs smaller competitors across the board.

      Even if he supports raising capital gains rates, that's only a marginal rate based on realized gains, so there's no telling if another few percent is just for show.

      What does it matter if rates are raised this late in the business cycle and everything crashes? He'll have taken his profits for years along the way, and declared losses just the same as if the rate were 5% or 50%.

      Just in time for the Keynesians to enact the umpteenth "temporary" cut, probably right back to the previous rate. Lather, rinse, and repeat.

      What a show...

    3. Many decades ago when Reagan cut the top marginal tax rates on ordinary income (TRA86) to 28%, I was a tax professional in one of the large accounting firms. Many of our wealthiest clients joined our firm in trying to prevent Reagan's TRA 86 from taking effect. The primary reason our wealthy clients were against it was that it was a huge tax increase for them since TRA86 essentially killed the benefit of tax shelters and curtailed tax credits which held their effective rate (the real tax rate) usually between 11 to 14%. TRA 86 increased the effective rates for most of them to over 20% and some as high as 24%, even though the top marginal rate was cut to 33% and then 28%. But, besides the tax increase, they opposed the cut because of how it would appear to the public at large, which made it look like they were getting a benefit when in fact they were getting slammed. The worst part was that they couldn't explain that to the public since it would go against them in showing how corrupt the old tax code was when the public learned what they were really paying.

      I guess the one good thing about the old tax code was that the left's envy was kept in check since most were clueless (and still are) about the tax code and just latched onto the high marginal rates as some form of social justice even though what was actually paid was far, far from the top marginal rate. BTW, back in those days, unlike today, most of the income taxes paid to the government came from the middle class. Of course, the left will conveniently overlook that fact when they long for the good old days.

  3. For too long, the American public has been led astray from the real nature of the federal tax laws to a place today where "everyone" just knows they "owe" taxes to the state. It started during WWII with the federal withholding act and continues to this day with millions in wealth flowing to our betters(sic). Get free of the scam, learn the facts, examine the evidence and then decide. See before you do anymore to enslave yourself with federal income taxes.

  4. The reason the old hypocrite feels comfortable demanding that income taxes "on the rich" go up is because people in his class get a tiny fraction of their wealth from "income" as defined by the IRS. So he will be unaffected. However the small entrepreneurs in the $1-5M range get most of their wealth as ordinary income, so they will get hosed.

  5. The other thing I like about this old bastard is the fact that he didn't do squat charity wise until a few years ago. Same BS as all these other morons - "I got mine, tough noogies on you getting any". Disgusting.