Paying for Gates' Guilt

I really do think some rich people feel guilty being rich.

They can't fathom their good fortune, so it's as if they want to give away their good fortune. Not all their good fortune -- I said they were guilty, not stupid -- but a lot of their fortune.

The thing is, really rich folks kind of think they're like all rich folks; even just kind of rich folks.

They think that they're all swimming in the same obscenely profitable Petre dish, so they can all dish out a little more to the government. After all, what's a few bucks when you have millions of bucks, right?

Well, that's where they are wrong.

The guy worth a couple hundred million smackers is very different from the guy with a couple hundred thousand. Yet next year, both will be taxed at the same raised top rate: 39.6 percent. And both will pay the nearly 4 percent Medicare surtax on passive income -- like dividends and capital gains -- and the extra nearly 1 percent tab in Medicare payroll taxes. Easy for the couple hundred millionaire. I don't know about the couple hundred thousand-aire.

Now I don't know where Bill Gates' dad falls, but I suspect he doesn't even count in thousands.

What I do know is Bill Gates Sr. is leading a push for a state income tax on wealthier folks in Washington State. "Wealthy," in this case, defined by those couples making more than $400,000 a year and individuals about $200,000.

I'm told such folks account for three percent of earners in Washington, so I would imagine a lot of the other 97 percent of folks wouldn't much mind, as long as it ain't them.

Still, they've tried state income taxes before in that lovely state, to no avail. Mr. Gates might have better luck. I'm told he has deep pockets, and knows another fellow with even deeper pockets.

No matter; I could save him the trouble. If Mr. Gates feels guilty being rich and wants to pay more, then pay more -- send extra to Washington State tax authorities. He should urge his other rich pals to do the same, then add it all up.

His son makes software for this kind of stuff. Easier to... spread the sheet.

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