Friday, October 7, 2011


Here is an article from the Tax Foundation. They are trying to figure where the Oracle of Omaha get’s his numbers. LRK

Warren Buffett's much-discussed op-ed arguing that high-income earners aren't paying enough taxes makes the following claim:

"Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent."

To me, the effective rates he claims for other workers in his office seem too high to be realistic, and I can't figure out how he calculated them, even if you include all payroll (employee and employer) taxes. Even if you assume the scenario that leads to the highest possible tax burden (single filer, no deductions), a taxpayer would have to make at least $285,388 (in 2010) before his or her effective rate reaches 33 percent. 41 percent is impossible, as far as I can tell: the limit of total taxes over total income, as income approaches infinity, is 37.358%. That's the highest possible effective rate anyone could have paid in 2010, if you include income and all payroll taxes.

To demonstrate this, I've made a little calculator which shows the maximum possible effective rate for any income amount. Try it out on the Tax Foundation website.