He starts with his own example:
Last year my federal tax bill — the income tax I paid, as well as payroll taxes paid by me and on my behalf — was $6,938,744. That sounds like a lot of money. But what I paid was only 17.4 percent of my taxable income — and that’s actually a lower percentage than was paid by any of the other 20 people in our office. Their tax burdens ranged from 33 percent to 41 percent and averaged 36 percent.
He continues by refusing the notion that higher taxes make people invest less or even differently:
Back in the 1980s and 1990s, tax rates for the rich were far higher, and my percentage rate was in the middle of the pack. According to a theory I sometimes hear, I should have thrown a fit and refused to invest because of the elevated tax rates on capital gains and dividends.
I didn’t refuse, nor did others. I have worked with investors for 60 years and I have yet to see anyone — not even when capital gains rates were 39.9 percent in 1976-77 — shy away from a sensible investment because of the tax rate on the potential gain.
He closes by telling his reader that the super-rich are mostly quite willing to pay higher taxes:
I know well many of the mega-rich and, by and large, they are very decent people. They love America and appreciate the opportunity this country has given them. Many have joined the Giving Pledge, promising to give most of their wealth to philanthropy. Most wouldn’t mind being told to pay more in taxes as well, particularly when so many of their fellow citizens are truly suffering.
If that were an MMORPG, people would comment that nobody keeps him from giving money to the government if he wants to. Just like nobody keeps you from walking instead of teleporting, from looking for a group instead of using LFD or from refusing epics if you want them to be rare to you. Luckily real life is still a bit more serious than MMORPGs (not much).
On taxing capital gains: many people argue that capital gains should not be taxed or that it's good that they are taxed at 15% in the US, because the money has already been taxed before. Mr. Buffett disagrees, and so do I. While the money one invests has already been taxed, the capital gains, the interest or dividend one gains, has not been taxed. And it should be taxed like any other income, because that's exactly what it is.
Investors work hard to find out where to invest the money. In return they earn capital gains. Other people work hard to repair bridges. In return they earn income. There are differences, but none that justify a different tax rate.
On taxes and jobs: an investor is constantly on the lookout for good opportunities. He invests in the best opportunities he can find. If all these opportunities look X% less profitable, this doesn't change his behavior. Keep X reasonable, please. Of course 100% or 99% might change his behavior, but if X = 0%, 15% or X = 50% this really doesn't change his behavior.
And this is true for almost all income taxes. Only very few people would work less if you tax them more. In fact, some people would work more, because they had to, to keep their standard of living. Most taxpayers, especially wealthy people, don't work for money in the first place. They work for prestige and to prevent boredom. They use the money they earn to compare themselves to others, just like everybody else. If everybody pays the same tax rate, the results of this comparison remain unchanged.