Buffett donates fortune to charity, is accused of avoiding estate tax

A few days ago, super-investor Warren Buffett announced he would be donating the majority of his considerable assets to Bill Gates’ Foundation, and he’s been rightly commended in the media for his generosity.

But for some reason, the ordinarily smart-minded folks at the Tax Policy Foundation have a bone to pick with Buffett over his support for the estate tax:

Warren Buffett has famously campaigned to keep the federal estate tax, but he apparently will avoid the tax himself, despite owning the world’s second largest personal fortune. Advocates of estate tax repeal were cynical but not surprised by the announcement that Buffett would avoid the tax that he has helped protect. They have long contended that the largest fortunes usually escape the so-called death tax.

I’m dumbfounded that a blog which I’d previously held in high regard would go out of its way to make such ugly remarks about one of the most benevolent acts in recent history. I’m also confused as to why the author believes Buffett’s estate should be taxed on wealth that will never be property of an estate.

Buffett ain’t dead yet, so why would his (non-existent) estate be taxed on charitable donations? Talk about putting the cart before the horse.

I shouldn’t be so surprised. The blog strongly favors repealing the estate tax.

I’m ordinarily a staunch supporter of our neighbour to the south – I’m half-American myself – but the estate tax needs repealing like I need my root canal redone. Except that I actually do need my root canal redone. I guess that wasn’t a great analogy.