Warren Buffett's Secretary Likely Makes Between $200,000 And $500,000/Year

Discussion in 'Economics' started by Tom B, Jan 25, 2012.

  1. Tom B

    Tom B

    Warren Buffett's Secretary Likely Makes Between $200,000 And $500,000/Year

    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.

    Bosanek’s prominent role in Obama’s “fairness” campaign piqued my curiosity, and I imagine the curiosity of others. How much does her boss pay this downtrodden woman? So far, no one has volunteered this information.

    We can get an approximate answer by consulting IRS data on tax rates by adjusted gross income, which would approximate her salary, assuming she does not have significant dividend, interest or capital-gains income (like her boss). I assume Buffet keeps her too busy for her to hold a second job. I also do not know if she is married and filing jointly. If so, it is deceptive for Obama to use her as an example. The higher rate may be due to her husband’s income. So I assume the tax rate Obama refers to is from her own earnings.

    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 a salary above two hundred thousand.

    We must wait for further details to learn how much more than $200,000 she earns. The tax tables tell us about average ranges. For all we know she earns closer to a half million each year, but that is pure speculation.

    I have nothing against Debbie Bosanke earning a half million or even more. Buffet is a major player in the world economy. His secretary deserves good compensation. At her income, however, she is scarcely the symbol of injustice that Obama wishes her to project.

    I imagine that there are any number of secretaries who would want her job and her place in the Congress gallery for the President’s State of the Union address.

  2. piezoe


    You'll have to have more information to make any sense at all of the reported disparity between buffet's rate and his secretary's.
  3. So wait...the secretary is the evil 1% too!!!
  4. Bob111


    you can try it yourself:


    i would appreciate,if i can see her tax report..the key (as usual) is(probably) to be in the deductible debt up to the hilt...RE to be precise. that's the only one that's left.
  5. The media/left always portrays people in a condescending fashion to prove a point. Reminds me of one of the debates in '04 when Kerry looked out at the audience and said, "none of you here look like you make over 200k a year."
    No one called him on it and commented on how patronizing that was...afterall, democrats CARE, republicans are EVIL.
  6. Bob111


    there is one more 1% category. read forbes: ARMY,with average salary of 87K. and 1.4 M (yes,1.4 MILLION solders(think about it for a second))active personnel(2nd after china(population x5 US))...keep in mind that for every solder(pretty much like on cruise ship) there is a government contractor to serve them)

  7. ashatet


    why did Buffet not turn into a saint like for the last 40 years with all his money, is beyond me. Every one has an agenda, even Buffet, the sooner you understand it, the better.