Warren Buffett, the legendary investor who changed the debate about US tax reform in 2011 with a call for the rich to pay more, is now calling for minimum tax rates for millionaires.
In a New York Times editorial printed yesterday, Mr Buffett suggested Congress move immediately to implement minimum taxes of 30 per cent on incomes of $1 million to $10m and 35 per cent above that.
“A plain and simple rule like that will block the efforts of lobbyists, lawyers and contribution-hungry legislators to keep the ultra-rich paying rates well below those incurred by people with income just a tiny fraction of ours,” Mr Buffett wrote.
“Only a minimum tax on very high incomes will prevent the stated tax rate from being eviscerated by these warriors for the wealthy,” he added.
The new push is in keeping with the one he made in the same newspaper in August 2011, in which he decried the “coddling” of the super-rich. He used himself and his secretary as an example, noting that her tax rate was much higher than his even though her income was just a tiny fraction of what he made.
“Warren Buffett’s secretary” became a political meme following that editorial, and the said secretary, Debbie Bosanek, was ultimately a guest of president Barack Obama at this year’s State of the Union address.
The 2011 editorial spurred Mr Obama to seek the implementation of what he called the “Buffett Rule,” which set a 30 per cent tax rate on millionaires. Opponents said it would stifle spending by the job-creating well-to-do.
Mr Buffett, whom Forbes ranks as the world’s third-richest person, is the chief executive officer of Berkshire Hathaway, the ice-cream-to-insurance conglomerate.