The Bill Gates Income Tax

Inquiring minds are reading WSJ’s fine article, “Bill Gates Income Tax“.

If Washington’s most famous billionaires are really worried about their state’s finances, they’d write personal checks to the government and leave everyone else alone.

Framed on a wall in my office is a personal letter to me from Bill Gates the elder. “I am a fan of progressive taxation,” he wrote. “I would say our country has prospered from using such a system–even at 70% rates to say nothing of 90%.”

It’s one thing to believe in bad policy. It’s quite another to push it on others. But Mr. Gates Sr.–an accomplished lawyer, now retired–and his illustrious son are now trying to have their way with the people of the state of Washington.

In the past decade, the nine states with the highest personal income tax rates have seen gross state product increase by 59.8%, personal income grow by 51%, and population increase by 6.1%. The nine states with no personal income tax have seen gross state product increase by 86.3%, personal income grow by 64.1%, and population increase by 15.5%.

It’s striking how the high-tax states have underperformed relative to those with no income tax. Especially noteworthy is how well Washington has performed compared to states with no income tax.

Over the past 50 years, 11 states have introduced state income taxes exactly as Messrs. Gates and their allies are proposing–and the consequences have been devastating.


3 Responses

  1. Bill Gates is the liar who, a few years ago, told Congress that there was a shortage of US tech workers. There was no such shortage; he simply wanted the h-1b program so that he could hire tech workers more cheaply from overseas.

    CNBC finally admitted that the computer programming field is shrinking, thanks in part to offshoring and outsourcing. Too bad for anybody who has spent decades accumulating skills and expertise in this area. Too bad for the US if we are ever in a war that will require us to have our own tech expertise, rather than relying on foreign (and potentially enemy) sources.

    I have blogged about these topics recently:

    Just Say No to Student Loans for High Tech Education

    UNDERemployment and the Greater Depression of 2010

  2. Bill Gates advocates for higher taxes and avoids taxes by giving to his tax exempt foundations which he then runs like his little fiefdoms.

  3. It’s easy to favor a 90% income tax, especially when you’ve got $40 or $50 billion socked away, and your annual income is a mere $10 or $20 million. A 90% tax still leaves you with $1 or $2 million a year – and $40 billion in stocks and bonds.

    I’m all for Buffet and Gates accumulating wealth. They worked for it. Buffet, at least, seems ready to do a Carnegie: give it all away.

    But let the rest of us have our own preferences.

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