Tags: Foley | Berkshire | Buffett | taxes

FT's Foley: Berkshire Figures Way Out of Taxes, While Buffett Calls for Higher Taxes

By    |   Thursday, 05 March 2015 07:20 AM

Warren Buffett has continuously advocated higher taxes for the wealthy, but his Berkshire Hathaway has done a fabulous job at avoiding corporate taxes.

The company announced in its latest annual report that it has been able to defer $61.9 billion of taxes.

"This figure — about eight years' worth of taxes at Berkshire's current rate — is a reminder that Buffett understands how putting off the moment when taxes are due gives him more money today to invest elsewhere," writes Stephen Foley of the Financial Times.

And Berkshire has successfully managed its tax bill throughout Buffett's career, Foley says.

For example, Berkshire's energy unit garners tax credits for renewable power generation. It received $258 million of wind energy tax credits in 2014, and $913 million of solar power tax credits in 2012 and 2013.

Berkshire paid $4.9 billion in taxes last year, but will ultimately owe $7.9 billion for the period, Foley reports.

On the personal-tax front, Buffett has backed President Obama's efforts to raise taxes on the wealthy, saying it's unfair that he has a lower tax rate than his secretary does.

Meanwhile, individual taxpayers may benefit from budget cuts at the Internal Revenue Service that are forcing the agency to pull back on tax audits.

So, "if you don't already cheat on your taxes, it's an opportune time to start," writes Yahoo Finance columnist Rick Newman.

The probability of getting audited this year has dropped to an 11-year low, with just 0.86 percent of individual taxpayers likely suffer that fate this year, he reports. That's down from 1.11 percent in 2010. For those earning more than $1 million, the slide will likely be to 7.5 percent from 8.4 percent.

That's "a deeply disturbing drop in our individual audit rates," IRS Commissioner John Koskinen said in a speech last month.

To be sure, the IRS' budget cuts are a double-edged sword for taxpayers. Anyone seeking tax assistance from the IRS or awaiting a refund from the agency can expect delays.

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Warren Buffett has continuously advocated higher taxes for the wealthy, but his Berkshire Hathaway has done a fabulous job at avoiding corporate taxes.
Foley, Berkshire, Buffett, taxes
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2015-20-05
Thursday, 05 March 2015 07:20 AM
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