Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has urged U.S. politicians to impose higher taxes on his fellow wealthy Americans. Buffett, the second richest man in the U.S. after Bill Gates, said in an op-ed for the New York Times today, “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.”
Buffett argues that the richest members of US society are not making a fair contribution to repairing the country’s finances. “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,” wrote Buffett, whose personal fortune was estimated at $50 billion by Forbes this year. Countering claims that high taxes hurt investment, Buffett notes that job creation has actually dropped since 2000, despite lower taxes.
He cited Internal Revenue Service data showing that the tax burden on the nation’s wealthy had fallen for the past two decades. In 1992, he says, the 400 richest people in the U.S. had taxable income of $16.9 billion and paid federal taxes of 29.2%; in 2008 their income had risen to $90.9 billion but the tax rate was down to 21.5% and job creation was anaemic.
He advocates freezing taxes on 99.7% of taxpayers while raising rates for anyone earning more than $1 million, and an even higher rate for those earning over $10 million.
“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,”