... of secretaries:
Warren Buffet’s secretary, Debbie Bosanek, served as a stage prop for President Obama’s State of the Union speech. She was the President’s chief display of the alleged unfairness of our tax system – a little person paying a higher tax rate than her billionaire boss.
Insofar as Buffet (like Mitt Romney) earns income primarily from capital gains, which are taxed at 15 percent (and according to Obama need to be raised for reasons of fairness), we need to determine how much income a taxpayer like Bosanek must earn in order to pay an average tax rate above fifteen percent. This is easy to do.
The IRS publishes detailed tax tables by income level. The latest results are for 2009. They show that taxpayers earning an adjusted gross income between $100,000 and $200,000 pay an average rate of twelve percent. This is below Buffet’s rate; so she must earn more than that. Taxpayers earning adjusted gross incomes of $200,000 to $500,000, pay an average tax rate of nineteen percent. Therefore Buffet must pay Debbie Bosanke [sic] a salary above two hundred thousand.
Of course a marginal tax rate above 15% kicks in at about $44,000 of adjusted gross income, but there’s some strong evidence of a high salary:
Despite a heavy tax burden, Warren Buffett’s secretary last year was able to purchase a second home in Arizona, a residence complete with a swimming pool and a “professional PGA putting green,” according to real estate records.
Debra Bosanek, 55, and her husband Gerald bought the 2100-square-foot home in Surprise, a city outside Phoenix. The Bosaneks paid $144,000 for the four-bedroom, two-and-a-half bath property (the purchase was financed, in part, by a $115,200 mortgage).
The principal Bosanek residence is in Bellevue, Nebraska, several miles from Buffett’s corporate headquarters in Omaha. The couple’s 2568-square-foot home, built in 2000, also has four bedrooms and two-and-a-half baths. But the modest property, which Sarpy County assessors last year valued at $217,716, offers no outdoor amenities for swimmers or golfers.
Just your typical secretary with two four-bedroom homes ...
UPDATE: That’s one less home than Mitt Romney.