Mr Buffett said that he was taxed at 17.7 per cent on the $46 million he made last year, without trying to avoid paying higher taxes, while his secretary, who earned $60,000, was taxed at 30 per cent. Mr Buffett told his audience, which included John Mack, the chairman of Morgan Stanley, and Alan Patricof, the founder of the US branch of Apax Partners, that US government policy had accentuated a disparity of wealth that hurt the economy by stifling opportunity and motivation.
The comments are among the most [significant] yet in a debate raging on both sides of the Atlantic about growing income inequality and how the super-wealthy are taxed. They echo those made this month by Nicholas Ferguson, one of the leading figures in Britain’s private equity industry, when he criticised tax rates that left its multimillionaire venture capitalists “paying less tax than a cleaning lady”.
Last week senior members of the US Senate proposed to increase the rate of tax that private equity and hedge fund staff pay on their share of the profits, known as carried interest, from the 15 per cent capital gains rate to about 35 per cent.