Bloomberg News

Buffett Refuses Freshman Republican’s Offer for Tax-Return Swap

October 12, 2011

Oct. 12 (Bloomberg) -- Warren Buffett, who is pushing for higher taxes on the wealthy, refused the request of a Republican congressman to swap tax returns and reiterated his pledge to publish the form if other billionaires would do the same.

“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 in a letter yesterday to Rep. Tim Huelskamp of Kansas. “I stand ready and willing -- indeed eager -- to participate,” he said in the letter, which was e-mailed to Bloomberg today by an assistant.

Buffett, 81, has drawn criticism from Republicans since teaming with President Barack Obama this year to push tax increases. The chairman of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. has said his tax rate is the lowest of the people who work in his office. Huelskamp, who offered his return in exchange for Buffett’s in an Oct. 5 letter, wouldn’t advance the tax-policy discussion by releasing his form, the billionaire said.

“Unfortunately, publishing your tax return or that of other members of Congress would cast no new light on my claim that the ultra-rich in many cases are paying less in total taxes -- income and payroll taxes paid by them or on their behalf -- to the federal government than many of the middle class,” Buffett said in the letter. “Thanks for your letter. I’m glad you are looking into tax inequities.”

Huelskamp’s letter was forwarded to Bloomberg by Buffett’s assistant, Debbie Bosanek. CNNMoney reported on the letters earlier.

Buffett said in the letter he had adjusted gross income of $62.9 million last year. He told Charlie Rose in an Aug. 16 interview that the figure was “about $62 million.”

--With assistance from Maryellen Tighe and Charles Mead in New York. Editors: Dan Reichl, Dan Kraut

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Frye in New York at afrye@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Dan Kraut at dkraut2@bloomberg.net


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