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Financial Literacy - Taxes
Kinky doesn't mess with taxes
The former gubernatorial candidate of Texas says taxes aren't too terribly interesting.
Taxes made easy

Interview: Kinky Friedman

As a taxpayer, do you resent taxes?

No. I never thought about them much. I'm not really a business or economics type of guy.

Texas, of course, does not have a state income tax.

No, and I don't think we need one either. I think we need to legalize casino gambling and do a few things like that.

Speaking of which, you recently won more than $40,000 playing a $5 slot machine in New Orleans. Was the taxman there to collect his share?

That was a great hit, $45,600. My eyes glaze over on that one. Yeah, Louisiana took something like $6,000 of the $45,000. They took a bit.

Did that bring you even for all your gambling over the years?

No, no. Not even close.

Warren Buffett recently testified before Congress against the repeal of the estate tax. He says rich people should pay higher taxes, not lower. What's your take?

I think he's right. He's paying lower taxes than his receptionist right now. And probably everybody in his company. (Editor's note: In a speech at Columbia University in September 2000, Buffett said, "I'm paying taxes at a lower rate than my secretary ... and frankly I think that's crazy.")

Most politicians love to campaign on taxes. Why don't you?

It's just a boring subject to me. I don't really like politics. In some places we should have taxes. We should have a higher gas tax; that way, we wouldn't need toll roads. I'm not totally against taxes; I'm just saying that quite often they never go where they're supposed to go anyway. All the tobacco taxes, for instance, have not gone to health programs.

A pack of cigarettes in New York City is now more than $6.

That's what they're good at, the politicians. They're not very good at resolving immigration or health care or anything like that.

Is it true you're considering another run for governor in 2010?

I'm thinking of running as a Democrat, yeah. I'm just thinking about it. I'm having fun with the media; I tell them I'm running in one town and in the next town I tell them I'm definitely not running. I'm meeting with some of the older Democrats, some of the cool ones. The reception has been very warm, so we just have to see.

-- Posted: Dec. 17, 2007
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