Buffett Says Estate-Tax Repeal Would Benefit Richest

Nov. 14 (Bloomberg) — Warren Buffett called on Congress to maintain the estate tax, saying that plans to repeal the levy would benefit a handful of the richest American families and widen U.S. income disparity.

Buffett, the billionaire chairman of Omaha, Nebraska-based Berkshire Hathaway Inc., told the Senate Finance Committee that advocates of repeal were “dead wrong” to call the levy a “death tax.”

It would be more appropriate to call it a “death present,” said Buffett, 77, who is the third-richest person in the world, according to Forbes Magazine. “A meaningful estate tax is needed to prevent our democracy from becoming a dynastic plutocracy.”

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  1. No matter how bad things get for Buffett, he’ll always have a nice, fat wallet. Why’s he so frightened of everyone else having one too?

    My parents have a fairly sizable estate. Why should the government get any part of it just because they died? It’s Mom and Dad’s money, not George Bush’s, or Warren Buffett’s. The government didn’t earn that money, my parents did. They can do with it what they please now, and they can direct its disbursement after they die by the use of a will. It’s their right.

    A far better plan would be to eliminate the loopholes in the tax code so that Buffett and his ilk pay their “fair share” as they earn their money at the same rate as us poor working schlubs.

  2. Andy Frazer says:

    I’ve always been a big fan of Buffet, but I’m not sure where he’s coming from, here. He knows quite well that the truly wealthy all avoid the estate tax by restructuring their assets into trusts. Buffet did the same thing. His entire estate is getting split up between the Buffet Foundation, the Susan Thompson Buffet Foundation, and the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. He can also bequeath his appreciated home properties to his children so they’ll avoid the taxes on the appreciation.

    Instead it’s the upper middle class with home equity over $1M who get screwed by the death tax.

  3. The thing a lot of people don’t realize about the estate tax repeal is that it actively screwed the modestly affluent. How? Through the elimination of “stepped-up basis”. (i.e., when you sold something you got to calculate your gain against its worth when you inherited it, not its worth at purchase.)

    Say ma & pa left you $400,000 of stocks they’d spent $100,000 on 30 years ago. Under the old scheme, you pay no estate tax, because you’re under the limit, and no capital gains tax on sale, because of the stepped-up basis. Under the new no-estate-tax-for-everybody scheme someone in this same situation could end up owing almost $50,000 in taxes.

  4. O.K., I feel like an idiot, I hadn’t read the fine print of the repeal of stepped-up basis, there’s a loophole effectively giving stepped-up basis for estates under $1.3 million. I’d be perfectly happy if both my posts just disappeared ;-(

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think Buffet is right. If no one pays it why are they complaining about it. If the rich does what Buffet does with his(put it in a trust) that is good too.

  6. itchy says:

    My parents have a fairly sizable estate. Why should the government get any part of it just because they died? It’s Mom and Dad’s money, not George Bush’s, or Warren Buffett’s.

    Not yours, either. I should get it.

  7. Adam says:

    The problem with the Estate Tax isn’t it affecting the truly rich (Who will simply evade it, Buffett for example has much of his wealth stashed in Tax Havens), it’s that it is absolute murder on the small/medium business and farming families.

    It’s very easy for the net value of a family farm to exceed a million dollars, but the Estate Tax is interfering with keeping these farms in the families that have worked them. Since they don’t produce enough income short-term to cover the taxes (The value is almost always in land and infrastructure), they end up being sold at the death of the owner to big farming corporations because there’s no other way to cover the Estate Tax. Same goes for family business.

    This latest BS from Buffett is fairly typical of the sort of rich, liberal pontification coming from people who simply have no idea what it’s like to be a middle-class business owner or farmer in today’s tax climate. It’s Buffett and co who don’t have to worry about the estate tax, and who are effectively hereditary oligarchs. The Estate Tax only affects those who have assets in the low millions. Not rich, but either upper-middle class or family business types.

  8. Cassandra says:

    I simply don’t agree, but I was going leave everything I own to the IRS anyway…so,

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