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Buffett-owned firm seeking Mass. tax break

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns Richline Group Inc.

Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway owns Richline Group Inc.

Billionaire Warren Buffett may be an outspoken advocate for higher taxes on wealthy Americans like himself. But his companies are not shy about trying to pay less in taxes.

Richline Group Inc., a subsidiary of Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway Inc., has requested tax breaks from the state in order to invest in an Attleboro jewelry manufacturing plant. Richline has promised to create 100 new jobs and spend $3.6 million to upgrade the plant if it gets a little financial lift from the state.

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The Massachusetts Economic Assistance Coordinating Council will vote on the request from Richline and nearly 20 other companies at its Wednesday meeting. The amount of the tax credits will be released at the meeting.

Buffett, one of the wealthiest people in the world, has grabbed headlines in recent years for his political position on taxes, as much as his financial acumen. A proposal by President Obama to create a minimum 30 percent tax rate for people who earn more than a $1 million a year was famously dubbed the Buffett Rule.

But that doesn’t mean that Berkshire Hathaway companies will refuse government incentives when they are available. Mark Hanna, a spokesman for Richline, declined to comment on the company’s request for tax credits or Buffett’s personal taxes.

Richline’s investments will modernize the plant and add jobs to an operation that only recently was cutting them, according to documents filed with the state. Richline bought the Attleboro plant last year from British-based Cookson Group, which was battered by the recession and skyrocketing gold prices and laid off workers in Attleboro, once a jewelry hub.

Richline has expanded the plant’s product line from components for jewelry makers to include finished jewelry, such as earrings, for retailers, Hanna said.

“Attleboro is the center of all of our manufacturing,” Hanna said.

Deirdre Fernandes can be reached at deirdre.fernandes@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @fernandesglobe.
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