Bill Gates needs to practice what he preaches


When one of the two richest people on the planet says that he is undertaxed, it makes for intriguing, self-righteous headlines.

Bill Gates of Microsoft fame is worth an estimated $90 billion (plus or minus a few billion) and has long been an advocate for higher tax rates for ultra-rich people like himself.

He and his wife operate the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, which has some $41.3 billion in assets, per KPMG’s Dec. 31, 2016 audit.

Much of the money is the result of Gates’ and Warren Buffett’s pledges to leave half their fortunes or more to the foundation — and their donations are legal and tax deductible.

While I respect Gates the businessman tremendously, his position on taxes and his political jabbing don’t exactly wash with his actions.

The thing with megabillionaire founders of public companies is that their wealth comes in the form of their stock holdings, not their salary and income. So Gates, Buffett and Amazon’s Jeff Bezos incur tax bills on their real wealth “holdings” only when they sell shares into the market.

The tax on their salaries, which are usually quite small, is irrelevant when you have $50 billion-plus of net worth.

Charity is one of the great things about America, but does Bill Gates deserve a US tax deduction if his foundation is giving aid to people in need overseas? Not really.

So my feelings are mixed. Kudos to Gates for doing good on many fronts around the world.

Bill, as I am sure you know, you can always pay more taxes to the US Treasury Department.

And here’s exactly how you can:

If you want to make a voluntary contribution to the US government, you can do so by sending a separate payment to the Treasury via the Bureau of the Fiscal Service with the stipulation that it be used to “reduce the debt held by the public.”

You may deduct (as a charitable donation) a gift to the government to reduce the debt.

Then it can be a personal choice.