Taxes

Some millionaires say, 'Tax me, please!'

Dec. 8, 2010 at 6:25 PM ET

While Republicans are trading high-fives in Washington over a deal that would preserve tax cuts for even the very wealthiest Americans, not all the nation's millionaires and billionaires are cheering.

Certainly plenty of upscale earners on Wall Street and elsewhere are quietly celebrating the promised extension of Bush-era income tax cuts along with a planned reduction in estate taxes, compared with pre-Bush levels. In Greenwich and Palo Alto there might even be a few extra baubles under the Christmas tree this year.

But there are also more than a few outliers -- millionaires who are saying, in effect, "Tax me!"

A new group called Patriotic Millionaires for Fiscal Strength has released a list of hundreds of high earners who say they want to see tax cuts for the wealthy expire as scheduled Dec. 31.

"My view is that in hard times it is important for Americans to come together and unite over the idea that medical care ought to be a basic right of citizenship," said Eric Schoenberg, identified as a "private investor" who also teaches at Columbia Business School. "It’s only fair for those of us who have benefited the most from this system to contribute the most.”

Of course it is not completely unheard-of for certain progressively minded millionaires to favor higher taxes. Bill Gates Sr., the father of the Microsoft Corp. founder and chairman, long has championed higher estate taxes. This year he also backed a failed effort to impose a state income tax on high earners in Washington State.

And CNN's billionaire founder Ted Turner said Wednesday that he was not happy with the plan to extend the tax cuts.

But speaking on msnbc's "Morning Joe," he said he does not pay much in taxes anymore because he has given away so much of his wealth.

"I'm one of the few examples of a very wealthy person that's given himself almost to the edge of poverty," he said. "I've got a few million left."

Turner might have been speaking with a bit of hyperbole. Forbes magazine still ranks Turner among the nation's 400 richest individuals with his 2 million acres of land and a net worth of $1.9 billion, down from $6.2 billion a decade ago.

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