Buffalo News repeats Buffet secretary tax rate meme – My open email to writer Jerry Zremski

Today I had the misfortune to read this little article in the Buffalo News. It was the usual collection of lies and misinformation regarding tax. Including the now classic:

Warren E. Buffett’s secretary will continue to pay a higher tax rate than her billionaire boss

Of course, that’s totally not the same as saying she pays MORE tax… but that’s what the less informed ‘Merican is going to think. “And that’s gotta stop!”

But rather than repeat myself, this is what I sent to Jerry Zremski on the subject.

I sent this to Jerry….

RE: http://www.buffalonews.com/city/capital-connection/washington/article814705.ece

Hello Jerry,

I’d have loved to submit a comment on the Buffalo News site, but getting authenticated seems to be a bit like getting Warren E. Buffett to pay his “fair” tax.

Your article begins by repeating the meme

Warren E. Buffett’s secretary will continue to pay a higher tax rate than her billionaire boss

And I just wanted to voice my irritation to the disingenuous nature of Buffett’s statement.

To start, using example figures, if his secretary is paid $50,000 and her tax is 20% that would still be less tax paid than his $1,000,000.00 at 5%. But does Warren Buffet consume 5x the amount of resources than his secretary, that he doesn’t pay for in other ways?

If, however, he is putting his salary into other sources that attract zero or low tax, then he is effectively avoiding taxation. Say he used a charitable foundation to avoid large amounts of tax, while preaching for others to pay more, you’d considered that to be both hypocritical and immoral.

But if Mr Buffet was to feel so bad about his “low tax”, he is of course entitled to make voluntary over payments into the US IRS. He’ll even get a receipt he can post on his website to show what a good citizen he is.

Simply focusing in on the rate is simply an obvious way of tricking the less informed members of the American public into thinking Buffet is paying less tax.

The fact is that millionaires and billionaires can afford the sort of financial advice that will allow them to avoid any tax hike introduced by this or any future executive. It’s merely a way of making the American public feel that years of previous, current and future austerity will be tolerable because everybody is paying their “fair share”.

Over here in the UK, we’ve all seen the news about public figures who talk about paying their fair share, only to then be later exposed as tax cheats. Ask any Irish tax payer what they feel about Bono and U2’s tax avoidance. http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/ireland/090303/bono-tax-evader

Of course, the real question is this, why is it that each and every tax paying the US is having to deal with a multi-trillion dollar debt, not of their making. That’s the real question, not whether or not Warren Buffett’s secretary needs better tax advise.

Rob Leather

Manchester, UK

Which pretty much sums up how I feel about it. The fact is that billionaire Buffett is more than welcome to pump money into the IRS if he feels like it. But he doesn’t. Instead he wants tax hikes for higher income people… who can all then avoid having to pay for it using dividend payments, bonus schemes, charities scams… you name it. Meanwhile, John Q. Public sleeps happy in his smaller, colder bed. Safe in the knowledge that Buffett’s feeling the pinch also, except he’s not…. and deep down everybody in the media knows it.


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