I am the grandson of Holocaust survivors, raised by a single-mother, a graduate of the New York City public schools. I founded a company out of a tiny office – and through many hours of hard work today employ over 110 people and own one of the largest independently owned US PR firms. As a NYC resident, I pay over 50% taxes – 35% federal, 8.25 percent New York State taxes, and 4 percent local taxes. Add in Medicare, social security, payroll, workers compensation, commercial rent taxes, payroll tax, and who knows what other tax and it is more than 50 percent. I spend many, many hours with my accountant – and there is no way around these outrageous tax bills.
There is something so un-American in forcing me to hand over more than half a year’s pay to the government. Meanwhile, uber-rich like Buffet have a special way with the system, whereby, as he claims, he pays about 17 percent of his income to the government in taxes. Buffett makes most of his money from dividends and capital gains – at the 15 percent tax rate. For a simpleton like me it seems a deviation from the concept of all money being green. And he has the gall to proclaim that the wealthy need to pay more taxes (which Obama defines as over $200k annually).
Headlines this week featured Buffett’s plans to provide financing for Burger King’s purchase of Canadian chain Tim Horton’s, which would allow Burger King to pay Canadian tax rates. While it is wholly natural for capitalists to take advantage of loopholes to maximize profit, there is an issue when he does it with his foot on the neck of hard-working entrepreneurial Americans. It’s hypocritical to weasel out of American taxes.
Tax codes are broken when Buffett’s $46 billion net worth will largely escape all federal taxation. Some years ago, the billionaire signed a letter, calling for a “strong estate tax” because it is “right morally and economically” and “promotes democracy by slowing the concentration of wealth and power.” He uses tax laws to dodge taxes – yet, my heirs will pay another 50% taxes after my death on monies which have already been taxed. Even if I was to move overseas, and give up my American citizenship, I’d have to pay “exit fees” in taxes. In the same breath, multi-billion-dollar corporations are able to evade the law. Rather warped.
I live in a city where there is a city council that is openly anti-business, a “progressive” mayor (and governor), and our 2014 State Business Tax Climate Index placed New York 50th (out of 50 States) as a result of high income, corporate, sales, and property taxes. And we should pay more while Mr. Buffett weasels his way into Canada?
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