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Jacoba Urist Headshot

Why Wait to Be Taxed?

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WARREN BUFFETT BOFA
AP

There's no question, Warren Buffett made big waves and has everyone from my lawyer-friends to parents on the playground buzzing about who should be taxed (more) and at what marginal rate.

In his recent op-ed, Buffett calls for increased taxation on the mega-rich -- rate hikes for those making one million dollars or more, and then another jump for folks over the ten million mark. His "tax me" cry certainly produced an avalanche of responses, ranging from the former CEO of American Express who asks the government to raise money more fairly and spend more wisely before it comes asking for more money to a piece questioning some of Buffett's key assumptions and word-choice.

But so far, I found the most curious reaction to Warren's column on Facebook of all places. A number of people have posted a link to the liberal group Moveon.org, asking taxpayers (and in my case, Facebook friends) to sign a petition to get 350,000 Americans to stand with Warren and tell Congress that they want the richest citizens to pay their fair share.

Why wait for the slow wheels of Congress? And why waste our time on this sort of petition?

First of all, Americans who feel under-taxed -- a pretty patriotic sentiment, even if I can't personally relate -- can simply write a check to the United States Government to make up the difference. Think about it like your college kids. The Treasury will always take an out-of-the-sky gift whenever you'd like to give it to them. People who feel they were taxed insufficiently last year, and who assume that, this year, once again, they won't be paying their fair share, can easily make a donation to the fisc for general government use and budgetary needs. The Treasury's gift account was established in 1843 for individuals wishing to express their patriotism, and now, almost 170 years later, conveniently accepts checks and money orders. Or how about a petition to get 350,000 under-taxed (or extremely generous) Americans to sign Warren's Giving Pledge, and join the world's richest families in donating half their fortunes to philanthropy?

My point is: Warren Buffett puts his money where his mouth is. While he calls for higher taxes, he also gives his money to charity in a big way. In fact, it makes good tax policy sense to at least consider what he's saying and, I believe, implement some of his recommendations. Though Warren, if you're listening, you can still write a check for whatever shortfall you and your friends feel so bad about.

As for Moveon.org and my Facebook friends, if you'd really like to stand by Warren Buffett, don't wait to be taxed. Let's get a new petition circulating, or go straight to Warren's Giving Pledge and promise half of your net worth, or better yet -- walk directly to your local post office and mail the government a check right after you're done reading this.

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