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House passes Republican take on 'Buffett Rule'

September 19, 2012|By Danielle Ryan

WASHINGTON -- The House on Wednesday afternoon passed by voice vote the Republican version of the Buffett Rule.

The bill, which probably won't be picked up by the Senate until after the November elections, would allow Americans to check a box on their tax forms and voluntarily donate money, in addition to their normal tax liabilities, to pay down the national debt.

The original Buffett Rule, supported by President Obama, failed in the Senate in April. That bill would have required those making $1 million or more annually to pay at least 30% in taxes. It was named after billionaire Warren Buffett, who famously complained that his secretary paid a higher tax rate than he did.

Democrats were angered by what Rep. Sander M. Levin (D-Mich.) called “legislative mislabeling."

“There’s nothing wrong with this bill except the label,” Levin said. “This bill has nothing, zero, to do with the Buffett Rule”.

The Republican version of the bill was sponsored by Rep. Steve Scalise of Louisiana, who called it a "common-sense alternative to President Obama's divisive class warfare calls for higher taxes".

“If Warren Buffett and others like him truly feel they're not paying enough in taxes, they can use the Buffett Rule Act to put their money where their mouth is and voluntarily send in more to pay down the national debt, rather than changing the entire tax code to inflict more job-killing tax hikes on hard-working Americans,” Scalise said.

Under current law, Americans can contribute to paying down the national debt, but “like all things with the IRS, it isn’t easy,” Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) said on the House floor Wednesday. Republicans say the bill would make the process much easier.

The check box created by the Buffett Rule Act would read: “By checking here, I signify that in addition to my tax liability (if any), I would like to donate the included payment to be used exclusively for the purpose of paying down the national debt.”

danielle.ryan@latimes.com

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