If you want to see Berkshire Hathaway’s corporate income tax bill, here’s a tip from Warren Buffett: Buy an airplane ticket. Berkshire Hathaway
paid $32 billion in corporate taxes over the decade ending in 2021, according to Buffett’s annual shareholder letter released Saturday.
That’s a big-sounding sum, but Buffett, Berkshire’s CEO and chairman, knows a picture is worth a thousand words. Or 32 billion in this case. So the “Sage of Omaha” has a visualization exercise to make a point about tax policy, who pays and how much they pay. First, he wrote, stack $1 million in $100 bills. “You will have a stack that reaches your chest.” Next, stack $1 billion in $100 bills “— this is getting exciting! — and the stack reaches about 3⁄4 of a mile into the sky.” For the final trick, pile $32 billion in $100 bills. “Now the stack grows to more than 21 miles in height, about three times the level at which commercial airplanes usually cruise,” Buffett wrote. “When it comes to federal taxes, individuals who own Berkshire can unequivocally state ‘I gave at the office,’ he added. It’s one part of Buffett’s latest annual shareholder letter, which also touched on topics including the “secret sauce” in Berkshire’s portfolio, the wisdom of his long-time partner Charlie Munger, and the lack of wisdom of stock buyback critics. While …