Billionaire Microsoft co-founder Bill Gates is worth an estimated $91.8 billion, and he pays billions in taxes to the federal government. But he says he should be paying even more.
"I need to pay higher taxes," he told CNN's Fareed Zakaria during a recent interview. "I've paid more taxes, over $10 billion, than anyone else, but the government should require people in my position to pay significantly higher taxes."
Gates' comments came on the heels of a criticism of 2017's GOP tax reform.
"It was not a progressive tax bill, it was a regressive tax bill," he told Zakaria. "People who are wealthier tend to get dramatically more benefits than the middle class or those who are poorer. It runs counter to the general trend you'd like to see, where the safety net is getting stronger and those at the top are paying higher taxes."
Fellow billionaire Warren Buffett agrees. "I don't think I need a tax cut," Buffett told CNBC regarding reform efforts.
Buffett, who's worth an estimated $87.2 billion, specifically spoke out about the estate tax, which is levied on assets transferred from one person to another at the time of death. He said eliminating it would be a "terrible mistake " because the current system in America vastly favors the rich.
In theory, he could leave billions each to his children and grandchildren, who wouldn't have to pay taxes to inherit it. "If they were lucky enough to come out of the right womb and have the right name, Buffett, they could build tombs for themselves like Egyptian pharaohs never dreamed of," he said.
"I sure don't think it's good for a society where there's a ton of inequality to start with. I think that's a terrible mistake," he added.
In the end, the estate tax wasn't fully repealed, but it was furthered scaled back.
Left to their own devices, Gates and Buffett use their funds to give back in other ways. In 2010, the duo partnered up on The Giving Pledge, through which ultra-wealthy individuals commit to giving away at least half of their wealth to charitable causes.
Alongside his wife, Gates also works full time on the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which spends more than $4 billion per year fighting disease, improving education, distributing vaccines and battling wealth inequality across the globe.
"Even before we got married, we talked about how we would eventually spend a lot of time on philanthropy," Gates wrote in the couple's 10th annual letter describing the foundation's charity work.
"We think that's a basic responsibility of anyone with a lot of money. Once you've taken care of yourself and your children, the best use of extra wealth is to give it back to society."
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