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Hollywood and Taxes: A Test of “Limousine” Liberalism?

President Obama’s introduction of the “Buffett rule” — that the millionaires and billionaires should be paying taxes at the same rate as everyone else — has certainly jump started class-conscious debate. But his proposal also poses a test of whether well-heeled, Democratic entertainment figures are on board to be taxed more.

Earlier this week Mark Cuban wrote a blog post in which he called paying taxes “the most patriotic thing you can do.”

He writes, “So be Patriotic. Go out there and get rich. Get so obnoxiously rich that when that tax bill comes , your first thought will be to choke on how big a check you have to write. Your 2nd thought will be “what a great problem to have”, and your 3rd should be a recognition that in paying your taxes you are helping to support millions of Americans that are not as fortunate as you.

“In these times of “The Great Recession” we shouldn’t be trying to shift the benefits of wealth behind some curtain. We should be celebrating and encouraging people to make as much money as they can. Profits equal tax money. While some people might find it distasteful to pay taxes. I don’t. I find it Patriotic.”

While others share Cuban’s sentiment, more concerning to charities is a White House proposal to reduce the amount that the rich can deduct for philanthropic contributions. The proposal has been around for some time but was reintroduced in the American Jobs Act. Ron Howard, in Washington to promote the Boys and Girls Clubs of America, told the Daily Caller that the lesser deduction would not discourage him from giving.

“I remember on ‘The Andy Griffith Show’ when income taxes for the upper level were as much as 90%, and that is the era we look back to with great nostalgia and it was a time of tremendous growth,” Howard said on MSNBC. “So I am not adverse to paying some taxes to help the country grow and help the economy grow….I’m with Warren Buffett on this one.”

Missing in this is the impact of state taxes, and California targets upper incomes more than at the federal level. The Los Angeles Times’ George Skelton points out that Californians may not want to rush to support the Buffett rule — as it has been in place in Sacramento for some time — as it has unintended consequences.

He writes, “Soaking the rich — relying heavily on them for income taxes — has resulted in a precarious revenue roller coaster ride. It’s either boom or bust in Sacramento, depending on how the wealthy are faring in the stock market and their other investments.”

 

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