Battle for the Warren Buffett Rule

Published: Friday, Sept. 21 2012 4:07 p.m. MDT

FILE - In this Nov. 21, 2011 file photo, U.S. billionaire investor Warren Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway, speaks during a news conference in Iwaki City, Japan.

Shuji Kajiyama, File, Associated Press

Enlarge photo»

For Warren Buffett and others who believe they should pay more taxes, U.S. House Republicans are offering a straightforward solution. The House passed a bill Wednesday that would allow taxpayers to voluntarily contribute to the U.S. Treasury to reduce the national debt. Designated by Republicans as the Buffett Rule Act, the legislation garnered bipartisan support, passing by a simple voice vote.

As Bloomberg Businessweek points out, current law already allows for such voluntary contributions. However, Republicans consider the process for doing so overly complicated. Under this bill, taxpayers could make debt-reduction donations by simply checking a box on IRS filing forms that would read: “By checking here, I signify that in addition to my tax liability (if any), I would like to donate the included payment to be used exclusively for the purpose of paying down the national debt.”

Rep. Steve Scalise (R-La.), the bill’s sponsor, commented on the proposal, saying, “If Warren Buffett and others like him truly feel they're not paying enough in taxes, they can use the Buffett Rule Act to put their money where their mouth is and voluntarily send in more to pay down the national debt.”

In April of this year, the Democrats’ own Buffett Rule, the Paying a Fair Share Act, received 51 votes in the Senate but failed to proceed to debate and final passage because of a Republican filibuster. That measure would have ensured a minimum effective tax rate of 30 percent on all households making more than $1 million per year. Billionaire investor Warren Buffett’s name is used in association with the legislation due to his comment that he should not be taxed at a lower rate than his secretary.

The nonpartisan Joint Committee on Taxation estimates the Republican bill would reduce the national debt by about $14 million per year over the next ten years. Estimated revenue generated by the proposed Paying a Fair Share Act, averages nearly $4.7 billion per year for the same period.

Additional Sources: www.washingtontimes.com/blog/inside-politics/2012/sep/19/house-passes-new-buffett-rule/

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