* Buffett made public plea for higher taxes in August
* "Buffett Rule" modeled on his suggestions
By Ben Berkowitz
Oct 12 Warren Buffett paid $6.9 million in
federal income taxes in 2010, the billionaire investor said in
a letter to a Kansas congressman that adds fuel to the debate
over his proposal for higher taxes on the rich.
The figure represent 17.4 percent of his $39.8 million in
taxable income, a percentage he has repeatedly said is too low
compared to what his own staff pays.
Buffett caused an uproar in August when he said the wealthy
should be subject to a higher rate of tax. The White House has
co-opted his call into a "Buffett Rule" that would raise levies
on the richest people.
Following Buffett's suggestion, Republican congressman Tim
Huelskamp of Kansas sent the "Oracle of Omaha" a letter in late
September calling on him to release his tax returns.
Huelskamp sent Buffett a second letter reiterating the
request earlier this month, and promising to release his own
returns if Buffett would as well.
Buffett, the chief executive of the conglomerate Berkshire
Hathaway , responded in kind on Tuesday, according to a
copy of the letter his assistant provided to Reuters on
Buffett reiterated what he saw as the inequality of his
paying a rate in the teens when most people who work for him
end up paying a rate in the 30 percent range.
But what he told Huelskamp he also wanted was for other
ultra-wealthy Americans to release their own returns -- in
full, rather than the limited data Buffett himself shared.
"If you could get other ultra rich Americans to publish
their returns along with mine, that would be very useful to the
tax dialogue and intelligent reform," Buffett said. "I stand
ready and willing - indeed eager - to participate in this
Buffett went on to suggest a method to get reticent moguls
to release their returns, among them Rupert Murdoch, whom he
has repeatedly challenged on the subject.
"Having the 'favored 400' make their tax returns public -
even if only code letters were attached to the various returns
- would be a big step in informing legislators and the public
of what needs to be done," Buffett wrote.
A spokeswoman for Huelskamp said he would issue a statement
later on Wednesday.