What’s that CNBC? You think you can successfully take on America's favorite billionaire? Think again.
CNBC is backing off claims made earlier this week by capital markets editor Gary Kaminsky that Warren Buffett is a hypocrite, after the Oracle of Omaha refuted Kaminsky's argument in an email to the network, the New York Post reports. At issue is Buffett's company's recent $1.2 billion stock buyback, in which Berkshire Hathaway bought about 9,200 shares from the estate of an unnamed shareholder, prompting Reuters to write that the move helped to “save substantially on taxes.”
Due to Buffett’s well-known support of raising taxes on the wealthy, CNBC’s Kaminsky took things a step further, calling it “hypocritical to the maximum level” and arguing the move was designed to dodge an expected increase in the capital gains tax next year. Buffett quickly hit back at Kaminsky, pointing out that capital gains taxes are imposed on the value of stock at the time it was inherited -- not on its current price -- so the “estate did not have a gain regardless of when the stock was sold.” (Buffett is a member of the progressive coalition Responsible Wealth, which just this week called for an increase in the estate tax, a tax on inherited assets.)
Kaminsky’s assertion that the “seller was better off by selling in 2012 than 2013,” Buffett added, was also “incorrect,” NYP reports. Buffett likewise refuted Kaminsky’s claim he “never” repurchases stock, citing shareholder letters as proof. Still, the move does come as some surprise, given that Buffett generally opposes buybacks at higher stock prices, according to The Street.
After Buffett's email, CNBC issued a correction on air. “We thank Mr. Buffett for watching and setting us straight,” CNBC anchor Melissa Lee said late Thursday.