Business
Warren Buffett (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)
             Warren Buffett (AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite, File)   

GOP introduces its own ‘Buffett Rule’: Streamline donating cash to government

Photo of Caroline May
Caroline May
Political Reporter

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett revealed Wednesday that he made $62,855,038 last year, paying $6,923,494 in income taxes (or about 17 percent of his $39,814,784 taxable income) and $15,300 in payroll taxes.

With Buffett concerned that he does not pay enough in taxes, congressional Republicans have introduced legislation to allow Buffett — and others who believe they are under-taxed — the easy option of voluntarily donating to the U.S. Treasury on their tax forms.

South Dakota Senator John Thune and Lousiana Rep. Steve Scalise have introduced companion legislation in the Senate.

Dubbed “The Buffett Rule Act of 2011,” the names of the bills take a mocking swipe at President Barack Obama’s own proposed “Buffet Rule,” which conversely would close tax code loopholes to ensure that Warren Buffett and those like him no longer pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries.

According to Thune, there is nothing stopping Buffett from paying more in taxes, and his legislation would streamline that capability.

“If individuals like Warren Buffett or President Obama are inclined to donate their own personal money towards paying down the federal government’s debt, they ought to have that right to do so voluntarily,” said Thune.

“This bill would make it easier for those wealthy individuals who feel they are currently under-taxed to pay more to the U.S. Treasury, above and beyond their current obligations, without raising taxes on America’s job creators.”

Last week in an interview with The Daily Caller Rep. Scalise explained that playing the “class warfare” card is unnecessary when people can give as much money as they want to the government.

“The president is running around the country saying that he wants to raise taxes on our nation’s small businesses, and families that are struggling, and he is using Warren Buffett as the poster child, because Warren Buffett said he doesn’t pay enough in taxes,” Scalise said.

“Rather than engaging in this class warfare game, what I want to do is say, ‘Look, if Warren Buffett and anybody else feels like they are not sending enough money to Washington, give them that option to do it voluntarily, but don’t go and change the tax laws to put an increased burden on others who are struggling to get by.’”

The bills have been commended by anti-tax crusader Grover Norquist, who sent Buffett a letter in late September urging the billionaire to use the U.S. Treasury’s option to contribute more money to the government.

“As it turns out, you don’t need to wait for President Obama to sign legislation raising taxes on you,” Norquist wrote. “You can open up your checkbook right now, write a check payable to the United States Treasury, and drop it in the nearest mailbox (or just hand it to your ‘secretary’). Problem solved.”

If passed, starting with the 2011 tax year, the “Buffett Rule Act” would require the Internal Revenue Service to include a line option on tax forms to donate money to Treasury to pay down the deficit.

Follow Caroline on Twitter