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News Some thoughts from Warren Buffet

  1. Aug 15, 2011 #1
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 15, 2011 #2
    Dave Ramsey was talking about this on his radio show recently. Dave is no Buffet as far as wealth but probably makes a year what Buffet pays in taxes.

    He said something to the effect, "Mr. Buffet, if you feel that you aren't being taxed enough, write the US government a check. They WILL take your money. But mind your own business."

    But, I'm sure there are some ridiculous loop-holes we can plug for sanity.
    Last edited by a moderator: Aug 15, 2011
  4. Aug 15, 2011 #3


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    One person's "ridiculous loop-hole" is another person's "vital to the national interest." :rolleyes:

    (And the other person often has a lot of lobbying money behind him.)
  5. Aug 15, 2011 #4
    I've posted this before. Warren Buffet seems to have a political agenda as he doesn't mention the $Billions his company, Berkshire Hathaway, pays in taxes - in addition to his personal taxes. It's unusual for a business owner (someone who built the company from the ground up - not a hired hand) not to consider all of the taxes they pay.
  6. Aug 15, 2011 #5
    But that has absolutely nothing to do with the point he is making about personal tax. His point was about personal tax right? (I am not being sarcastic - I read this in snippets between work conversations).

    I do find his point about the affects of taxing the rich on the psychology of the middle and working classes.
  7. Aug 15, 2011 #6
    When Congress wanted to raise personal income taxes on rich people, conservatives rose up and said this would hurt businesses, not realizing there is a difference between business profit and personal income of the owner.

    Here, too, you're confusing the two.
  8. Aug 15, 2011 #7


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    That's not true. Like with the split payroll tax, who pays the tax is just a political gimick, not an economic reality.
  9. Aug 15, 2011 #8


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    I definitely think a graduated capital gains tax would be a good way to ensure that those who'se normal income is derived from capital gains are taxed appropriately while avoiding penalizing those who invested for retirement, kid's college, etc. I agree with him that that's a flaw in the tax structure. However, I wouldn't make a change until after the economy has shown a stable recovery.

    However, most of the rest of that op/ed is highly disingenuous to the point of dishonesty for someone who knows better. He's championed the argument that he pays less % than his secretary in income taxes (here, it's just 'the people in his office'), but:

    1. We don't know the incomes of the people in his office. Does anyone actually believe any of them are below the top 20% of wage earners (except, possibly, the janitor - if he even has one on staff)? They are anything but typical/average American workers.

    2. All of the non-rich will receive vastly larger benefits from the payroll taxes than him as a fraction of income. The normal calculus of net taxes paid includes the subtraction of benefits, but only for this year. His argument belies the fact that over their lifetimes, his workers are almost certainly net beneficiaries (of payroll taxes) while he's almost certainly a net payer. I wish someone would do a study of overall lifetime net financial contribution to government, because the way the stats are generated now are misleading - and, frankly, insulting if you're a person counted as being a non-contributor while you're only temporarily unemployed. Consier that a person who had a $250k job last year and got laid off might have been seen as "rich", this year he's living a wealthy lifestyle off his checking account, but is considered a poor, non-contributor, and next year perhaps he'll have a new $250k job and be rich again. The stats paint an inaccurate picture of what his real contributions are.

    3. He knows enough economics to know that there is no cutoff point in supply and demand below which people buy and above which people don't. For him to say that higher taxes isn't a disincentive to investment is just simply a lie.

    4. He's absolutely right that he and his other billionaire friends wouldn't be noticeably hurt by an increase in capital gains taxes. The people who get hurt aren't the 'already rich', but rather the 'trying to become rich' (and even the 'trying to retire comfortably'). He wraps his argument in dishonest false self deprecation: What he's trying to convey as charitable equanimity smells more to me like veiled 'old-money' snobbery. That last part, of course, is pure opinion, though it isn't mine originally - I got it from an op-ed I read a month ago that I'll see if I can find...
  10. Aug 15, 2011 #9
    Supply Side economics doesn't work.

    What works is full employment.

    When I'm making money I don't mind paying taxes - I understand that having roads, police, teachers, firefighters = taxes.

    Give businesses incentives to keep their money here, their workers here, their plants here - watch employment go up - and then none of this matters.
  11. Aug 15, 2011 #10


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    Right, and it is also beside the point whether the individual rich guy is 'hurt' from a macro standpoint. Unless Buffet and the like are literally putting their income under the mattress, they are placing large parts of it in securities, new businesses, i.e. investment, aka the 'I' in the GDP equation. Indeed one can argue Warren Buffet places his investment dollars more thoughtfully than any other human, one heck of a good reason to not send it off to the IRS instead.
  12. Aug 15, 2011 #11
    How do you separate a man and his company - when these are the stats - he is the one confusing the two - IMO.
    http://xfinity.comcast.net/slideshow/finance-topcompanytaxes/berkshire-hathaway/ [Broken]

    "8. Berkshire Hathaway
    Pretax income: $19 billion

    Provision for income taxes: $5.6 billion

    Net income: $13 billion

    Tax rate: 29 percent

    Warren Buffett's empire filed 14,097 pages of tax returns last year. The Oracle of Omaha has for years pushed for higher taxes on the rich, lamenting that his tax rate is lower than his secretary's. "
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  13. Aug 15, 2011 #12
    A lie? It's a face value statement.

    Aren't you referring to the middle class in "trying to become rich"? Precisely the people whom he mentioned need helping out??
  14. Aug 15, 2011 #13

    Ivan Seeking

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    What are you talking about? Corporate vs personal income?

    Beyond that, even for an inc., taxable income has no absolute meaning. It depends as much on deductions as it does income. Being an MBA you know that so I don't understand your point here.
  15. Aug 15, 2011 #14
    STOP! I'm not arguing corporate versus personal tax status and you know it.:rofl:

    I responded to a suggestion that I'm confusing the issue. It's my contention that Buffet built his company from scratch and the company pays $Billions in taxes - if the company wasn't paying those taxes - he would be paying more. His argument is intended to make it appear his (poor little hourly wage secretary) pays more than (rich old him) pays in taxes - and it's laughable.
  16. Aug 15, 2011 #15
    You should write him an email and point that to him out.

    Or, you just might again read what he wrote. For your convenience I quote him for you in bold

    I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain. People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off. And to those who argue that higher rates hurt job creation, I would note that a net of nearly 40 million jobs were added between 1980 and 2000. You know what’s happened since then: lower tax rates and far lower job creation.

    Also, I think we had clarified that before here on PF on some other thread: big companies, banks and funds are indeed putting there money under the mattress right now. Their hesitance to invest has zero do to with taxes too high, but with the very little business oppurtunities and dim economic outlook.

    How low do you want to cut taxes so that people will invest? No taxes? Perhaps paying them to invest? Lower wages, too?
  17. Aug 15, 2011 #16
    Has anyone on PF ever read a business plan or Private Placement document that did not include a projection of taxes? Has anyone ever made an investment decision that didn't consider tax consequences? Does anyone believe that Berkshire Hathaway does not factor in tax implications when it considers a merger or acquisition? My earlier post cited "Warren Buffett's empire filed 14,097 pages of tax returns last year." - is it possible taxes were not considered?

    Again - you can not separate the man from his company in this discussion.

    This is a list of private holdings - follow the links for additional holdings.
  18. Aug 15, 2011 #17
    John Rutledge, who was one of the principle architects of the Reagan economic plan, seems to refute Buffett's claim: http://www.rutledgecapital.com/Articles/20040611_the_real_reaganomics.htm

    Note how he points out that investors tended to keep a lot more money in tax shelters but with the tax rate cuts, much more of it began moving into the stock and bond markets. When Labour instituted tax rates up around 90% in the UK during the 70s, it scared off investors as well. The 1970s were a point of virtually zero construction of new mansions in the UK at the time, because no one could really make any money to become wealthy.

    This one just baffles me. Is Mr. Buffett forgetting what happened in between 1980 and 2000? We saw some very large tax cuts occur under Ronald Reagan. We saw a tax increase under George H. W. Bush, and one under Bill Clinton, but we also saw a capital gains tax rate cut under Clinton as well. Overall, between 1980 and 2000 was a period of tax cuts and low taxes, and we experienced some of the most vibrant economic growth in the country's history. The 2000s are more complex, because of the housing bubble that messed everything up.

    I wouldn't say tax cuts always mean great job growth or that tax increases will automatically kill job growth, but when taxes get punitively high, they do hurt job creation and economic growth.
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  19. Aug 15, 2011 #18
    The entire capital leasing industry is focused on tax implications on investments.

    Further, take a quick look at KPMG's website to understand the tax implications on investment decisions.
    my bold

    "Why tax-efficient mergers and acquisitions matter
    Companies with global ambitions cannot afford to ignore the opportunities for profitable growth offered by mergers, acquisitions and disposals. But if these transactions are to create real value, it is important that the tax implications of each deal are dealt with from the outset. This is especially important in cross-border deals, where differing regulations and business cultures need to be reconciled in order to reveal the risks and opportunities of a transaction.

    Similarly, private equity seeking to increase return on investment cannot afford to ignore tax. Recent trends show that M&A transactions have become more international and deal volumes have increased tremendously. Highly-leveraged transactions allow for big ticket deals, in particular within the private equity market."
  20. Aug 15, 2011 #19


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    That's about incentive to invest again, another issue and misses my point about allocation: whatever the tax rate, the money that goes to taxes does not go to private investment. If the tax rate is, say 50%, five of ten dollars goes to the government and can not be invested by Buffet regardless of his incentives.

    First, we clarified no such thing. Second, the OP here is about taxes on individuals such as Buffet. Nobody is talking about raising the business tax.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  21. Aug 15, 2011 #20
    Actually, there is no one else in the US that is just like Buffet - is there?

    Bill Gates has a higher net worth - but it wasn't accumulated primarily through Mergers and Acquisitions -it's primarily from MicroSoft valuation - is't it?

    "The venerable investor's Berkshire Hathaway climbed more than 15% over the last year adding $3 billion to his to fortune. The 80-year-old is still hunting big deals: "Our elephant gun has been reloaded, and my trigger finger is itchy." Along with bridge partner Bill Gates, the Oracle of Omaha is coaxing America's richest to pledge half their fortunes to charity."

    He apparently can't give his money away fast enough - perhaps he thinks the Government can speed things up?
  22. Aug 15, 2011 #21


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    :confused: I don't see a disagreement there. Yes, it is a face value statement. It's clear, concise, and simple and it clearly violates perhaps the most basic concept in economics. This is just my opinion, but I don't see how it could be possible for someone like him to not know this. So that means he must be purposely trying to deceive us.
    Raising taxes on the rich does not help out the 'everyone else'. He explicitly stated he wants to change nothing for the 'everyone else'. What he's calling 'helping out' is actually just not changing the 'helping out' that Obama and Bush already did.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  23. Aug 15, 2011 #22


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    In theory, maybe yes, in practice – I say it all depends on how you do it. If you do investments in infrastructure, education, research, new technology, startups, etc – high taxes can actually mean a growing economy.

    I can’t help laughing when I see (the same old freaks) going baloney over taxes, as it was some form of communist virus from hell.

    I live in a country which has one of the highest taxes in the world, as a percentage of GDP:


    As you can see, we have twice as much tax revenues as the United States, TWICE!!

    Do we walk around in Karl Marx beards and fight over the one and only loaf in the supermarket?


    At the moment, we are http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EU_economy#Economies_of_member_states", 5.54% annual change of GDP, and United States has 2.8%.

    This means you have a *HUGE* opportunity (i.e. margin) to fix your economy in a fairly simple way, if you could just relax a little bit, and realize that taxes are not equal to Stalinism.

    ... and if I just may add; you have http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Health_care_system#Cross-country_comparisons", 17% of GDP and growing:


    If you fix the healthcare and make it more effective and thus cheaper, raise some to taxes to fix your public debt, do some cuts (in maybe some 'overkill' in the military), and skip stupid gazillionaire benefits like tax reduction for private jets – you’re are going to do JUST FINE!

    Piece of cake!!
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  24. Aug 15, 2011 #23


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    He's arguing against the law of supply and demand. Incentives and disincentives are the positive and negative of the same thing. They are both quite real and they both really do work.

    Consider the following scenario: You have some money in the stock market and are nearing retirement. You plan to take quite a bit of money out when you retire. Capital gains taxes are about to rise a lot. Do you keep your money in the stock market or take it out early? Some people will elect to take it out early.

    Cash for clunkers and the new homebuyer credits worked similarly and their effects - though temporary - were well documented.

    Also, imagine you're a casual trader who has short term investments. The fact that the capital gains tax is lower than income taxes provides an incentive for keeping your money in the market and in an individual stock for longer than a year. Remove that incentive and some people may trade more, increasing volatility and potentially removing money from the market.
    Does anyone not see the deception in that part? It's terrible! He's whitewashing the primary component of the Reagan legacy (which both sides of the aisle agree on!)!
    I don't know why you bring that up - this isn't about business investment, but personal investment.
    Who said anything about cutting taxes? This is about whether or not to raise taxes. That's a red-herring argument.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  25. Aug 15, 2011 #24
    Isn't this the specific basis and intent of President Obama's tax policy - to cut payroll taxes for 95% of all workers - so they invest in the economy? Doesn't the EITC (tax redistribution) program give money to low income families - so they can invest in the economy?
  26. Aug 15, 2011 #25


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    Yes US healthcare is too expensive, due to government intervention in the market in my opinion. US medicine also yields considerably better medical outcomes than Europe, which is a fact.
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