NEW YORK, Aug. 15 (UPI) — Billionaire investor Warren Buffett said Congress has for too long spared the wealthiest Americans from paying their fair share in U.S. taxes.
“I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them,” Buffett, known as the Oracle of Omaha, said in an opinion piece published in The New York Times Monday.
“Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering,” Buffett said.
Buffett indicated he was astonished that Congress, year after year, panders to the nation’s wealthiest citizens.
“Stop coddling the super-rich” was the headline above the article, in which Buffett said tax breaks “and other blessings are showered upon us by legislators in Washington who feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species.”
“It’s nice to have friends in high places,” Buffett wrote, with a touch of sarcasm.
Buffet said the top 400 richest American taxpayers earned taxable incomes that totaled $16.9 billion in 1992 and paid federal taxes at a rate of 29.2 percent.
By 2008, however, the 400 richest in the country earned a taxable sum of $90.9 billion “but the rate paid had fallen to 21.5 percent.”
In his own office, Buffett, the chairman and chief executive of Berkshire Hathaway and one of the richest men in the world, said he paid a tax rate lower than 20 of his staff members.
“We mega-rich continue to get our extraordinary tax breaks,” he wrote.
Buffett challenged the 12-member committee in Washington charged with putting together a $1.5 trillion austerity package to raise revenues collected from the wealthiest Americans.
“It’s time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice,” he wrote.