Monday, August 15, 2011

Putting Your Taxes Where Your Values Are?

Alan Brevere makes a good point regarding Warren Buffet's op-ed on taxing the super-rich:

I like Warren Buffett. I admire him. He has been very generous with his money over the years. But when mega-rich folks like Buffett write editorials arguing that the wealthy should pay more in taxes, I am always puzzled by one thing. If he thinks he should pay more why doesn't he just do it? He could, for example, not take those tax breaks that the government allows him to take. There is no law requiring Buffett to do so. Or he can actually make a contribution to the federal government. Instructions on how to do so are right on the website of the Financial Management Service, which is a bureau of the U.S. Department of the Treasury...

It's one thing to write an editorial stating what others should do. I would suggest to Mr. Buffett that if he is serious about his words, he will back them up with action. Uncle Sam has his hand out and will not reject his check. I highly doubt that he will even ask Warren for two forms of ID.

When I stand up in front of the folks in church on Sunday morning and I encourage them to tithe (which should be the minimum gift to the church, not the maximum), I better be tithing and more myself. Otherwise my words have no integrity. If I insist that individuals read their Bibles and pray, I better be doing so as well.

I should add here that I agree with Alan that taxes probably need to be raised, though frankly I'd like to know why we want to raise taxes.  Buffet simply says taxes on the rich need to be raised, but then does not explain what this increased income is for?  Will it pay for social programs?  Entitlements?  Stem the debt?  We don't know.  All we know is that the rich need to pay more.

That said, I think Alan's charge that maybe Buffet should put his money where his mouth is makes some sense.  I used to think this was just a useless charge from conservatives, but not any more.  Of course, Congress and the President have to duke it out in raising revenue, but nothing is stopping Buffet from making a donation in the meantime.

The issue of taxation is one that we as a society must debate.  But if people are going to make such statements as Mr. Buffet's, maybe they should also make sure they are practicing what they preach.

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