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Billionaire Buffett still complaining his taxes are too low
David Edwards and Muriel Kane
Published: Tuesday October 30, 2007

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Multi-billionaire Warren Buffett has been complaining for years that his taxes are too low. Last June, he said at a fundraiser for Hillary Clinton that he was taxed at only 17.7% last year on his $46 million in income, while his secretary paid 30% of her $60,000.

NBC's Tom Brokaw recently interviewed Buffett, "whose approach doesn't make him very popular with his fellow billionaires."

"The taxation system has tilted toward the rich and away from the middle class in the last 10 years," Buffett, the nation's third richest man, told Brokaw. Buffett said he did an informal survey of federal taxes paid by his own office staff, and the average was 32.9%, compared to his 17.7%.

"There wasn't anybody in the office, from the receptionists on, that paid as low a tax rate," Buffett stated, noting that "I have no tax planning, I don't have an accountant, I don't have tax shelters."

"It's not right," one of Buffett's receptionist's told Brokaw.

"In theory, a progressive consumption tax makes the most sense," Buffett suggested to Brokaw -- referring to a form of sales tax that exempts basic necessities entirely and has higher rates on luxuries. However, that method has been criticized as likely to lead to distortions in the economy and corruption in setting rates.

Buffett has now challenged his fellow members of the "Forbes 400" to do the same survey he did, saying he'll bet a million dollars their average rate will be less than that of their receptionists.

"How much are you hearing from your fellow richfellows?" Brokaw asked.

"I don't hear from them. They're happy," chuckled Buffett.

The tax code has not been a major issue among the presidential candidates, but Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has recently offered a plan to increase taxes on super-wealthy hedge fund managers, who currently pay at the 15% capital gains rate, while lowering them for most families that earn under $500,000.

The following video is from NBC's Today Show, broadcast on October 30, 2007.



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