DON'T WEEP FOR WEILL

As tax time approaches, I'm sure that your greatest worry is about the tax burden being shouldered by America's richest people. Indeed, the Bushites and right-wing media pundits keep trying to tell us plebeians that the poor rich people – the multimillionaire class – are the ones most deserving of tax cuts, because they pay the most to the IRS.

As tax time approaches, I’m sure that your greatest worry is about the tax burden being shouldered by America’s richest people. Indeed, the Bushites and right-wing media pundits keep trying to tell us plebeians that the poor rich people – the multimillionaire class – are the ones most deserving of tax cuts, because they pay the most to the IRS.

So, as a service to you middle-class slobs who’re undoubtedly wracked with guilt over the financial elites having to pay so much while you pay so little, let me assuage your pain with the real-life story of Sanford Weill, the billionaire.

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Sandy (as his associates call him) is the chairman of Citigroup, the giant bank and Wall Street brokerage. He had a good year in 2005, hauling home $23.2 million in salary, bonus, and whatnot. Yes, you weep, but now he has to pay a load of taxes on that. Tut-tut, my friends, weep not for Sandy, for that sum includes a pile of cash to cover his tax bill. Yes, all of the stockholders, including you working stiffs with just a few Citigroup shares in your 401(K)s, had to chip in to pay this rich man’s taxes!

Meanwhile, the billionaire banker enjoyed a number of special perks that shareholders also covered. For example, Weill’s personal use of the corporation’s jets came to $524,000 last year, and he had $62,000 in medical and dental bills – all paid for with company money. Also, stockholders paid $85,000 so Sandy could get “personal financial planning advice.”

Well, you wail, those luxuries are nice, but don’t you know that he has to pay taxes on them, too? True enough, but, once again, cry for the shareholders, not for Sandy. Citigroup has even paid the taxes on this billionaire’s benefits. In other words, Weill got a perk on his perks.

This is Jim Hightower saying… So when you hear the Bushites appeal for more tax relief for the richest of the rich – remember the cautionary tale of Sandy Weill.

Sources:
“Citigroup Paid Income Tax On Its Chairman’s Salary,” The New York Times, March 2, 2006.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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