Monday, February 27, 2012

Buffett Hints That Berkshire Hathaway Tax Return Could Be Historic

Berkshire Hathaway Chairman Warren Buffett praised his employees and hinted that his company’s tax return might be big enough to warrant inclusion in the Guinness Book of World Records.

In his annual letter (PDF) to shareholders, Buffett singled out the 23 employees at Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate office, who he said deal with “a multitude of SEC [U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission] and other regulatory requirements and files a 17,839-page Federal income tax return — hello, Guinness! — as well as state and foreign returns.”
(To be fair, Buffett could be saying that dealing with such a massive return could drive a CPA to drink.)

While that is a hefty document, the return pales in comparison to the 57,000-page return filed by General Electric in 2011. That return — which, printed out and stacked, would have been 19 feet high — came under fire when it was revealed that the company didn’t pay taxes on $14 billion in profits.
Buffett, for his part, has also generated controversy for his New York Times editorial calling for taxpayers making over $1 million and $10 million per year should be taxed at higher rates. Proposed higher taxes for millionaires have become known as the "Buffett Rule," and Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) proposed a law earlier this month that would institute a minimum 30 percent federal tax rate for taxpayers with income over $2 million, including capital gains and dividends.
Without compromising client confidentiality, have you dealt with or heard about any other mind-boggling tax returns?

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