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Billionaire Buffett: Tax the rich

Billionaire investor Warren Buffett has called for "mega-rich" Americans to pay more taxes.

Mr Buffett said in a New York Times opinion piece that he would immediately raise rates on households with taxable income of more than one million dollars, and he would add an additional increase for those making 10 million dollars or more.

He also recommends that the 12 members of Congress charged with devising a deficit-cutting plan leave rates for 99.7% of taxpayers unchanged.

"My friends and I have been coddled long enough by a billionaire-friendly Congress," Mr Buffett wrote. "It's time for our government to get serious about shared sacrifice."

Mr Buffett noted that the mega-rich pay income taxes at a rate of 15% on most investment income but practically nothing in payroll taxes. The middle class, meanwhile, typically falls into the 15% and 25% income tax brackets and is hit with heavy payroll taxes. He said Washington legislators "feel compelled to protect us, much as if we were spotted owls or some other endangered species."

Mr Buffett said he knows many of the mega-rich well, and most would not mind paying more in taxes, especially when so many fellow citizens are suffering. He also said he has yet to see anyone shy away from investments because of tax rates on potential gains, even when rates were much higher in the mid-1970s, 1980s and 1990s.

"People invest to make money, and potential taxes have never scared them off," he said.

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