How the Wealthy View Taxes

This past week two very wealthy Americans took two very different stances on the issue of paying taxes.

Embroiled J.P Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon told NBC’s Meet the Press audience that he believed many on Wall Street shared his view that those who had done well in America, should do well by America.

I think most people on Wall Street would be happy to have the Bush tax cuts go away and pay higher capital gains if they thought it was part of a plan to fix everything. I do believe that…Matter of fact, I think you should appeal to people’s better nature. And say, “Listen, you’re–you’re well-paid. You benefited from this great country. We need you to give a little bit more for now, to help lift the country up.

We saw a very different point of view expressed by Eduardo Saverin, one of the co-founders of Facebook. Saverin was one of nearly 1,800 Americans to renounce their citizenship last year. It has been widely reported that Saverin took his extreme step to avoid paying taxes on an expected $4Billion in capital gains, when the social media giant becomes a public company this Friday.

Saverin arrived as an immigrant in the United States after he and other members of his family showed up on lists of kidnap targets in his native Brazil. His family was among the wealthiest in Brazil, and he invested some of this inherited wealth in his Harvard roommate’s novel idea for a way to connect Harvard students socially over the internet–and now the world.

Years later when Mark Zuckerberg tried to force Saverin out of the company, Saverin turned to the U.S. courts for justice, winning a 4% stake in Facebook. Blogger Farhad Manjoo notes that those who bring claims against billionaires seldom prevail in Brazilian courts. So without the United States, Saverin may well have been kidnapped, never have met Zuckerberg and had he tried to protect this kind of investment in Brazilian courts, would likely have been successfully cheated out of his share of the company.

Both of these wealthy Americans tend to overvalue their contributions to society but at least Jamie Dimon has the sense to know he does owe this country and its people a great debt of gratitude that can best be paid through paying his fair share so ‘we the people’ have the resources to invest in the future.