Mark Zuckerberg recently remarked that he’s “cool” with raising taxes on the rich – himself included. Gary Rivlin finds this disingenuous:
It’s a hollow gesture to say the federal government should raise the tax rate on the country’s top wage earners when the likes of Zuckerberg have most of their wealth tied up in stock. Many of the super-rich see virtually all their income as capital gains, and capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate—15 percent—than ordinary income. When Warren Buffett talks about paying a lower tax rate than his secretary, that’s because she sees most of her pay through a paycheck, while the bulk of his compensation comes in the form of capital gains and dividends. In 2006, for instance, Buffett paid 17.7 percent in taxes on the $46 million he booked that year, while his secretary lost 30 percent of her $60,000 salary to the government.
“It’s easy to say ‘Raise taxes’ when you know you’re not going to have to pay those taxes,” [Bruce] Bartlett says. “What I don’t hear is ‘Let’s raise the capital-gains tax.’”