Warren Buffett: Tax the Rich!


Warren Buffett's cry of 'tax the rich!' is being heard across the Atlantic. Warren Buffett Watch highlighted his comments to CNBC's Brian Shactman the other night, in which he said the gap between the 15% tax rate for public partnerships and the 35% rate for public corporations seemed "illogical." (That's become one of the more contentious issues in Washington following Blackstone's big IPO.)

In his appearance at Hillary Clinton's fund-raiser later that same night, he spoke more generally, in effect complaining that he, and very rich people like him, should be paying a higher percentage of their income in taxes.

There's a well developed debate over that very question right now in Great Britain, so the newspapers there paid attention. The Times of London headlined, "Buffett Blasts System that Lets Him Pay Less Tax Than Secretary" (to be strictly accurate, he's complaining that he pays a lower tax rate than his secretary. His total tax bill, at roughly $8 million last year, is obviously much higher.)

The Times called Warren's comments "among the most significant yet in a debate raging on both sides of the Atlantic about growing income inequality and how the super-wealthy are taxed." A British hedge fund biggie complained recently that his country's tax rules allow the very wealthy to pay "less tax than a cleaning lady." The Guardian also ran a news story on Buffett's tax talk.

To hear what Buffett had to say on this question, check out the clip to the left. It's a little long (8 minutes) but it is fascinating to hear in detail how he surveyed the 17 people in his office on their tax rates, what he'd like to do with everyone on the Forbes 400 Richest Americans list and why he thinks capitalism won't collapse under the burden of a higher cap gains tax rate.

Questions? Comments? Email me at buffettwatch@cnbc.com