She may be worth $2.8 billion, according to Forbes, but don’t count TV megastar Oprah Winfrey in with other billionaires who feel they aren’t taxed enough.
In fact, according to statements she’s made in the past, Winfrey sounds like a farm state Republican, angry at writing checks to the Internal Revenue Service and especially miffed with the so-called death tax on the rich.
There are at least two examples that might have Democrats questioning her.
According to Grover Norquist, president of the tax watchdog Americans for Tax Reform, her past opposition to taxes would be a problem for liberals. He told Secrets, "Oprah Winfrey has spoken against the unfairness of the double taxation inherent in the Death Tax. She’s talked about how much it pains her to pay excessive taxes. That is the beginning of wisdom for any candidate for office. But this would be knocked out of her in any primary run by the Democrats."
The first example is from her "The Oprah Winfrey Show." During its heyday, she used to have a Manhattan tax lawyer to the famous come on and dish dirt on celebrities like Marilyn Monroe and Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis.
In August of 1997, during a talk with Herb Nass, that Winfrey took offense at the estate tax Onassis’ heirs got hit with and that faced her own heirs. According to a transcript unearthed by Americans for Tax Reform, this conversation followed a discussion about the Onassis estate and taxes it faced.
WINFREY: And isn't that estate tax 55 percent?
Mr. NASS: At that level of wealth, yes. Her—her estate...
WINFREY: Yes. I think it's so irritating that once I die, 55 percent of my money goes to the United States government.
Mr. NASS: Well, you should give it away while you're alive then.
WINFREY: That's what I'm trying to do. You know why that's irritating? Because you would have already paid nearly 50 percent.
Mr. NASS: Correct. It's really double tax.
WINFREY: You would have already pai—it's double tax.
Mr. NASS: You're taxed on your income and on your estate. Alternatively...
WINFREY: And therefore, when you leave like a house or you leave money to people, then they're taxed 55 percent, so you've got to leave them enough so that once they're taxed, they still have some money.
Mr. NASS: Correct. Correct.
WINFREY: That's why you always hear about people where their aunts left them houses or left them stuff and they can't keep the house because the taxes are so much.
Mr. NASS: Well, charity is one other alternative. Sometimes wealthy people set up charitable foundations, which is a vehicle for avoiding the estate tax.
WINFREY: You're talking to me.
Mr. NASS: I'm talking to you.
Then there was her interview in 2011 with Piers Morgan when she addressed the pain writing checks to the IRS for over $100,000.
"The most pain I feel — my accountants will tell you this — every time I write a check to the IRS. It's a ceremony. They come in — for years they came in with wine — now they come in with tequila."
Paul Bedard, the Washington Examiner's "Washington Secrets" columnist, can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org