Paul L. Caron

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Warren Buffett Issues Tax Mea Culpa, Launches 'Tax It Forward' Movement

BuffettWarren Buffett today issued a mea culpa on the Buffett rule, acknowledging that it would have a trivial impact on his very low tax rate. Buffett admitted that the $8 billion of appreciation in his Berkshire Hathaway stock would continue to be untaxed under the Buffett rule. Instead, Buffett announced his support for the annual 15% mark-to-market tax on appreciation in publicly traded stock held by the wealthy proposed by David S. Miller (Cadwalader, New York).

As a first step, he today mailed a $1.2 billion check to the U.S. Treasury and announced the formation of the Tax It Forward Foundation, modeled after the Pay It Forward Foundation, popularized in the 2000 movie Pay It Forward (starring Kevin Spacey and Helen Hunt).  Buffett urged others to follow his example and Tax it Forward by sending checks to the U.S. Treasury to compensate other taxpayers for bearing the burden of their prior tax planning.  In response thus far, the following tax miscreants have sent checks to the U.S. Treasury (or other state and foreign tax authorities) and issued press releases:

  • Pay ItTimothy Geithner: TurboTax did not cause me to underreport my income
  • Mitt Romney:  I abused the IRA rules to stuff my IRA with $100 million
  • Newt Gingrich and John Edwards:  We abused the Sub S rules to avoid paying employment tax
  • John Kerry:  I moored my boat in Rhode Island to avoid Massachusetts tax
  • Joe Biden and Barack Obama:  We only increased our charitable giving when we realized we would have to publicly release our tax returns
  • Charlie Rangel:  As Chair of the House Ways & Means Committee, I knew all along that I was liable for tax on the rental income from my Dominican Republic beach condo
  • Cindy Sheehan:  I used my opposition to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars to avoid meeting my tax obligations
  • General Electric:  We have downsized our tax department and will no longer use aggressive tax strategies to avoid U.S. income tax
  • Wesley Snipes:  I knew all along that my income was properly subject to tax
  • Alec Baldwin:  I am a New York City resident and am responsible for New York City taxes
  • Bono:  I should not have moved my music empire to the Netherlands to avoid paying Irish taxes
  • Al Sharpton:  I should have used part of my MSNBC salary to pay my taxes
  • Alex Rodriguez:  I should not have taken special tax relief for my Manhattan condo
  • OJ Simpson:  I should not have taken the homestead exemption on my Florida home while I am in prison

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Had to check the date. Good one.

Posted by: sam | Apr 2, 2012 7:21:26 PM

This article is a classic, Paul! I don't think you'll ever be able to top it.

Here are some lame future ideas: furloughing all IRS employees (if the President is a Republican) or assigning 100,000 soldiers to work for the IRS in on-site tax collection (if the President is a Democrat).

Posted by: AMTbuff | Apr 1, 2012 2:26:11 PM

Oh, and Pres. Obama is supporting Herman Cain's 9-9-9 tax plan.

Posted by: Woody | Apr 1, 2012 11:44:19 AM

A bridge too far: everything else in the post would have fooled me if you hadn't claimed that Buffett practices what he preaches.

Posted by: gs | Apr 1, 2012 10:43:00 AM

Yeah, right. Warren Buffett mailing a check to the Dept. of Treasury that isn't required? Is this an article from "The Onion?" Why doesn't he get his corporations to pay what's already been assessed against them by the IRS?

Posted by: Woody | Apr 1, 2012 10:22:06 AM

More reasons tax returns should be filed on April 1st. I always sign the jurat on our return on April 1. That way, when the IRS audits and asks why I deducted that, I can respond, "Duh, April Fool's!"


Posted by: Abe Carnow | Apr 1, 2012 10:08:04 AM