Talking Taxes: Warren Buffett, His Secretary, and the Grocer (Jornal De Negotios, Portugal)
Warren Buffett’s complaint about his secretary paying more in taxes than he does is having a global ripple effect. According to columnist Helena Garrido of Portugal’s Jornal De Negotios, the debate on tax fairness in the United States should be food for thought in Portugal, where the economy is in a tailspin and thanks to widespread tax evasion and tax avoidance, tax revenue has plummeted.
The question that small enterprises raise about the recent tax control initiative is always the same: what about the others? Why have tax administrators limited the tax planning that larger enterprises have to deal with? In an environment of austerity, it is a problem that concerns most Western societies: the lack of equity.
In the United States, where the debate about tax fairness is red hot, tax inequality is in the public square. Even before this major crisis hit in 2007, it was reported that Warren Buffett pays lower taxes than his secretary, whom Barack Obama has transformed into a symbol of fiscal inequality. Last week, the most serious Republican presidential candidate, Mitt Romney, was obliged to disclose his tax returns, which showed that his effective tax rate was 13.9 percent in 2010 – on an income of $42 million.
What would we discover if we found out how much in taxes larger fortunes in Portugal pay?
Of course the battle against tax evasion must be a cause of the whole of society. Each of us must be aware that for every person who fails to pay their taxes, there is someone else who has to pay double. But for that, one would need to know that the tax authorities treat everyone the same and have effective weapons at their disposal.
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