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Buffett on Daily Show


txlaw
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I thought the best question Stewart asked Buffett was about the argument of double taxation. In other words, if you own stock in a company, you are basically paying your share of corporate taxes (paid on your behalf by the company) in addition to any dividend and capital gains taxes. I thought Buffett's reply was evasive and did not really answer the question. The question was a general one, and not about capital gains paid on bonds.

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The issue is that Buffett is comparing taxes on investment income (in general unearned income) of an individual with earned income of an employee. So it only only fair (for apples to apples comparison) that he takes into account all the taxes paid by an investor either directly or indirectly. Especially since he takes into account the payroll taxes paid by the employee in addition to income taxes paid by the employee to arrive at the total taxes on earned income.

 

For the record, I am not against higher tax rates per se, but I dearly would like to see the sending cuts materialize. Otherwise, if one wants to know what will happen to the US, he/she simply needs look at California (I live here). We have the highest income tax rates and sales tax rates in the country, and we still have huge state & local budget deficits because our politicians simply do not address the spending issue.

 

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Guest rimm_never_sleeps

I thought the best question Stewart asked Buffett was about the argument of double taxation. In other words, if you own stock in a company, you are basically paying your share of corporate taxes (paid on your behalf by the company) in addition to any dividend and capital gains taxes. I thought Buffett's reply was evasive and did not really answer the question. The question was a general one, and not about capital gains paid on bonds.

 

what would paying "your share" of corporate income taxes have to do with paying tax on the profit you make when you sell your share of the business? these Norquist inspired talking points may be somewhat valid for dividends, but not valid at all for disscussion of cap gains on sale of assets. And bonds, paintings, townhomes, and gold do not pay income tax.

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Guest rimm_never_sleeps

these Norquist inspired talking points

 

Do not keep making statements like this as if you know what motivated my posts and keep the discussion civil.

 

don't take it personal. but this is what Norquist has been rebutting for years to the argument you raised. it's really the only one he has.

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I do believe Norquist does believe income should only be taxed once or if possible not at all  ;D....

Personally I dont care what happens with this cliff, my only hope is that he loses his strangle hold on an entire political party. How one loser like him managed to take over the republican party says more about the party than him inmo. As he says though, this isnt his first rodeo, so time will tell.

 

Taxes on mostly the rich and upper middle would go up, loopholes would be closed, and Corporate tax rates would come down but not too much. Corporate loopholes would also be closed. AMT would be eliminated entirely and replaced with the BMT - Buffett Minimum Tax at 30% and 35%.

 

I am for spending cuts, and think the real bug bear is defense spending, its a very low return investment. Next I would prefer a public option to cut the % of GDP that healthcare gets (one of the highest in the world), finally I would fix up entitlements by cutting and means testing benefits.

 

I would also be hated by 100% of the country, managing to piss off just about every special interest group in existence.

Taxation is at its lowest point in modern times, spending at its highest. Sounds like everyone is winning but the federal balance sheet  ;D.

 

My irritation is people talk about cuts, but never want to cut defense. It makes them appear a bit dis-ingeniousness.

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Rimm,

 

I don't know what others' arguments are and that someone else you referred to is not posting here. So let us stick to the merits/flaws in the argument presented w/o name calling.

 

Anyhow, the main point made is still valid: an investor in a corporation still pays (indirectly) corporate income taxes. So, he/she is not paying zero taxes even if there is no dividend income or capital gains. By the way, I have been a shareholder of Berkshire for more than 10 years, and I deeply admire & respect Buffett. I happen to disagree on some (but not all) aspects of his arguments. In general I favor a more balanced taxation/spending approach with tax increases being part of the solution. I also think current lower dividend/cap gains taxes get a bad rap (when compared to ordinary rates) as if those are the only taxes an investor pays.

 

I realize that reasonable people may disagree. 

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I do believe Norquist does believe income should only be taxed once or if possible not at all  ;D....

Personally I dont care what happens with this cliff, my only hope is that he loses his strangle hold on an entire political party. How one loser like him managed to take over the republican party says more about the party than him inmo. As he says though, this isnt his first rodeo, so time will tell.

 

Taxes on mostly the rich and upper middle would go up, loopholes would be closed, and Corporate tax rates would come down but not too much. Corporate loopholes would also be closed. AMT would be eliminated entirely and replaced with the BMT - Buffett Minimum Tax at 30% and 35%.

 

I am for spending cuts, and think the real bug bear is defense spending, its a very low return investment. Next I would prefer a public option to cut the % of GDP that healthcare gets (one of the highest in the world), finally I would fix up entitlements by cutting and means testing benefits.

 

I would also be hated by 100% of the country, managing to piss off just about every special interest group in existence.

Taxation is at its lowest point in modern times, spending at its highest. Sounds like everyone is winning but the federal balance sheet  ;D.

 

My irritation is people talk about cuts, but never want to cut defense. It makes them appear a bit dis-ingeniousness.

 

Great post Myth, you sum it very well. Personally, I wouldn't hate you, but I'm not American, so my vote doesn't count!

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sreenr - I think its a tough one.

 

Income inmo is when you can use the money for your benefit and have control and access.

Its tough because a guy making 150k working his ass off pays taxes at the max rate, but a guy receiving dividends pays at a special low rate.

 

Its inherently unfair inmo. When its in Corporate hands the person doesn't control of it (typically, unless its closely held) or have access to it, and inmo there is no special rule saying money can only be taxed once. Money is taxed several times in our economy.

 

What I would do is have a fairly low Corporate tax rate for 1 reason, and 1 reason only. Corporations are mobile, its rough though because Home Depot and Walmart pay the max tax rate, and if you change the rate you may actually lose money overall (the broader base and loophole closing may not make up for the shortfall). I think we have a lot of tax leakage with companies selling into the US but not paying taxes due tech transfers and structuring. I am for lowering the corporate tax rate, but any lose in revenue will have to be made up on the person side, largely on the top end or with a VAT with some sort of credit for low income / poor. With a low Corporate tax rate, a low dividend tax, a lowish capital gains tax, and a Buffett minimum tax I think you cover all your basis.

 

Personally I think many underestimate Buffett, he sees the pitchforks and will not be gored with the rest of the Grade A prime cattle. A smart man indeed, what you have can be taken via taxation, votes, or by force but inmo it will be taken at some point.

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its rough though because Home Depot and Walmart pay the max tax rate, and if you change the rate you may actually lose money overall

 

 

This is why (IMO) the corporate and dividend taxes would make more sense if replaced with a system like what Australia has where an income taxed at the corporate level can be paid out with an attached credit to be offset against personal income.  They call it something like "franked dividends".

 

Example:

Take a corporation which payed 28% tax on that income in the United States and an individual personal tax rate of 35%.  The individual needs to pay 7% tax on the dividend -- he gets a credit for the part already paid at the corporate level.

 

Thus, shareholders of all companies are on the same level.  If the corporation already paid taxes in the US, they get credit on the personal level. 

 

Benefit #1: 

The shareholder does not get any credit for corporate earnings that were taxed overseas.  Thus it creates a disincentive to moving your taxable operations offshore.

 

Benefit #2:

The company is not incentivized to make uneconomic tax writeoffs and such -- it gets them nowhere as it only bumps up the eventual tax to be paid on the personal individual level.

 

 

The Republicans ought to embrace it because it eliminates double taxation, and the Democrats ought to embrace it because it helps keep jobs onshore and ensures that the tax gets paid eventually even if the business operators are particularly clever at lowering their corporate tax rates.

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I do believe Norquist does believe income should only be taxed once or if possible not at all  ;D....

Personally I dont care what happens with this cliff, my only hope is that he loses his strangle hold on an entire political party. How one loser like him managed to take over the republican party says more about the party than him inmo. As he says though, this isnt his first rodeo, so time will tell.

 

Taxes on mostly the rich and upper middle would go up, loopholes would be closed, and Corporate tax rates would come down but not too much. Corporate loopholes would also be closed. AMT would be eliminated entirely and replaced with the BMT - Buffett Minimum Tax at 30% and 35%.

 

I am for spending cuts, and think the real bug bear is defense spending, its a very low return investment. Next I would prefer a public option to cut the % of GDP that healthcare gets (one of the highest in the world), finally I would fix up entitlements by cutting and means testing benefits.

 

I would also be hated by 100% of the country, managing to piss off just about every special interest group in existence.

Taxation is at its lowest point in modern times, spending at its highest. Sounds like everyone is winning but the federal balance sheet  ;D.

 

My irritation is people talk about cuts, but never want to cut defense. It makes them appear a bit dis-ingeniousness.

 

Great post. Could not agree more with you.

 

I really have a tough time understanding how anyone can say we would need to spend more on defense when we already spend more than the next 15 countries combined.

 

Vinod

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Thanks Eric, will look at the post in more detail tonight, I am still trying to get my arms around this franking.

 

Whats funny is I am probably one of the few members of the board who is seriously double taxed. All my income is subject to both US and AUS taxes. I get the worst of both worlds, and have really thought about the best way to structure my holdings due to it....

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Guest rimm_never_sleeps

Rimm,

 

I don't know what others' arguments are and that someone else you referred to is not posting here. So let us stick to the merits/flaws in the argument presented w/o name calling.

 

Anyhow, the main point made is still valid: an investor in a corporation still pays (indirectly) corporate income taxes. So, he/she is not paying zero taxes even if there is no dividend income or capital gains. By the way, I have been a shareholder of Berkshire for more than 10 years, and I deeply admire & respect Buffett. I happen to disagree on some (but not all) aspects of his arguments. In general I favor a more balanced taxation/spending approach with tax increases being part of the solution. I also think current lower dividend/cap gains taxes get a bad rap (when compared to ordinary rates) as if those are the only taxes an investor pays.

 

I realize that reasonable people may disagree.

 

Rich people do a lot more than collect dividends. they buy and sell stocks, bonds, gold and other commodities, options, currencies, vacation homes, town houses, paintings, and private businesses. There is no double taxation here.

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