Published September 19, 2012
WASHINGTON – Feel your taxes are too low? House Republicans have devised a new convenient way for those worried about government red ink to donate more to the Treasury.
And in a dig at President Barack Obama and his favorite billionaire, they have named the bill the Buffett Rule Act after investor Warren Buffett, who has said that he and other wealthy people don't pay enough in taxes.
The legislation, approved in the House on Wednesday and heading for an uncertain fate in the Senate, creates a checkbox on tax forms allowing taxpayers to make donations above their normal tax liability for debt reduction.
The original Obama-backed Buffett Rule bill, which failed in the Senate last April, would have required top earners to pay at least 30 percent of their income in taxes.
Obama "has used Warren Buffett as the poster-child for his class warfare scheme because Buffett complains that he doesn't pay enough in taxes," said bill sponsor Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La.
"The Buffett Rule Act is a common sense alternative to President Obama's divisive class warfare calls for higher taxes, and it allows Warren Buffett and others like him to voluntarily donate more of their money to pay down our national debt if that is what they're really interested in doing."
Rep. Sander Levin of Michigan, top Democrat on the Ways and Means Committee, said there was "nothing wrong with this bill except the label." The bill, he said, has "zero to do with the Buffett rule. It has everything to do with the absolute refusal of Republicans to face the basic issue," the level of taxes that the wealthy pay.
The chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich., said the bill offered a simple way for people concerned about the debt to contribute. Now, he said, people must either send a separate check or money order to the Bureau of Public Debt or go online to that website and use a credit card.
He cited Joint Committee of Taxation estimates that the bill would reduce the public debt by $135 million over 10 years.
Donations to pay down the national debt are tax deductible under current law.
The IRS already has a checkbox on its income tax form for making a $3 contribution to the presidential election campaign fund.