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Many members of Congress could pay more taxes if Buffett Rule is enacted

I hear all the time from readers that members of Congress should have to personally deal with the same rules that they subject us to by their legislative actions.

I totally agree.

And while you can't really make people do their own taxes -- more than three-quarters of filers use a tax professional -- I'd love for all Representatives and Senators to fill out their own returns for just one tax season.

They can use tax software; a lot of us do that, too.

But I still want them, not an accountant or spouse or assistant, to plug in the numbers and see some of the confusion that their tax bills have wrought.

Of course that won't ever happen. But a tax geek can dream.

Dream on, Buffett Rule fans: And dreaming brings me to the millionaires' tax.

This proposal, which was presented as the Buffett Rule in President Obama's tax reform/jobs creation/deficit reduction bill, has morphed at last check into a hike of the 35 percent income tax rate to 41.6 percent for the next decade on income from salaries, capitals gains, interest and dividends that exceeds $1 million.

The prez, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and anyone else who thinks this tax increase has any chance of passing, even with enactment pushed past the 2012 election, is totally dreaming.

Still, how much tax that wealthier Americans pay or don't pay continues to fascinate us.

Possible higher taxes for some lawmakers: So does the idea of how it might effect those serving in Washington, D.C., as well as those who want to work there.

The ABC News blog The Note says that the millionaires' tax would mean higher IRS bills for Obama, along with some of the candidates for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination.

Mitt Romney is the wealthiest GOP candidate, bringing in between $9.6 million to $40 million in 2010, according to campaign disclosure forms. He obviously would face a bigger tax bill.

ABC News calculations also indicate that Herman Cain would be a millionaire tax target, since disclosure forms show a large portion of his income comes from less-taxed capital gains.

Although Newt Gingrich makes a pretty penny (between $2.6 million and $2.7 million) it's less clear just how much more he might face under the proposed bill.

The same goes for Jon Huntsman, whose reported income came from investments, but it was unclear whether the bulk of it would fall into the higher-taxed ordinary dividend category or the lower-taxed capital gains.

And despite the Texas braggadocio, Lone Star State Gov. Rick Perry is well down the ranks in income earnings. State public disclosure forms for the former GOP front-runner show Perry earned an estimated $156,000 to $235,000 in 2010, with most of that from his salary as governor.

Richest Representatives, Senators: Another Texan, however, might owe much more according to the latest Roll Call list of the 50 richest members of Congress.

Rep. Michael McCaul, a Republican whose district stretches from Austin to Houston, is worth just over $294 million.

That's almost 25 times more than McCaul was worth when he first appeared on Roll Call's annual survey in 2005. Back then, his net worth was a mere $12 million.

In 2011 his financial disclosure data reveals enough moolah to make him the wealthiest member of Congress, at least on paper.

The rest of the top five richest Representatives and Senators are:

  • Rep. Darrell Issa (R-Calif.) with $220 million,
  • Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) with $193 million,
  • Sen. Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) with $82 million, and
  • Sen. Mark Warner (D-Va.) with $76 million.

The 50th and final spot on this year's Congressional wealth list is held by another Texas Republican, Rep. Randy Neugebauer. He's worth just $6.21 million.

The Capitol Hill newspaper comes up with the lawmakers' net worth numbers by adding the minimum value of total assets reported by each on their annual financial disclosures and subtracting their minimum liabilities.

There's no way to precisely what type of tax treatment might apply to the money held by members of Congress. But it's probably a safe bet that most of them would end up owing much more if the Buffett Rule became law.

And that's just one more reason why its enactment is just a dream.

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