Monday, November 15, 2010

WHO REALLY PAYS TAXES (and other thoughts about our crybaby elites)

David Fiderer has an interesting article at that helps outline how America's wealthiest class have been getting away with murder when it comes to understanding who pays their fair share in America. If you listen to Fox News and Republican commentators, you know that they regularly lament the fact that the poorest Americans pay no taxes, and like to suggest that they're getting a free ride in America ... as if we should all aspire to be as lucky as the poor.

Nothing could be further from the truth.


Among the numbers we should be paying attention to include not just simple income taxes paid but total income earned (their slice of the pie) and "other" taxes paid on income, like social security and medicare taxes. If we include these factors we find that:

* The top .10% of income earners (i.e. the super wealthy), whose average annual wages of $7.4 million adds up to about $1 trillion in national income, paid approximately 21.6% of America's total income tax. The bottom 50% of Americans, whose average annual income of $15,287 also adds up to about $1 trillion in national income, paid approximately 15.4% of America's total income tax.

While 21.6% is definitely more than 15.4% which tax bracket would you prefer to be in?

* The Bush tax cuts treated both groups - the super wealthy .10% and the bottom 50% - about the same. This means that both groups saw a percentage tax reduction of just over 30%. For America's super wealthy, those making $7.4 million per year, their tax reduction meant they got an additional $500,000 back each year. For those making an average of $15,287 per year, their tax reduction for the year was about $186, or 50 cents a day.

So, which tax bracket would you prefer to be in?
* As an aside, but closely related, we should also consider the impact of what I like to call the Paris Hilton Multi-Million Dollar Inheritance Act. Think about this one. Courtesy of George W. Bush and his Republican-led Congress, the children of the super wealthy won't pay estate taxes on the unearned million/billion dollar incomes windfalls they will receive this year when a rich patron dies. I'll leave the details of this story for another day.
Still, I have to ask, which tax bracket would you prefer to be in? Better yet, would you be complaining and whining like today's super wealthy?

We need to include social security taxes paid when we look at national tax burdens because, in real simple terms, social security taxes have been producing financial surpluses for the social security program for years, and will continue to do so long into the future. The burden for funding social security surpluses falls squarely on America's middle class, who pay a disproportionate share of their income into social security.

Critical here is understanding that we don't save these surpluses. Nor do we invest them. We don't put them in a "lock box" either. Every president has been using social security surpluses to shore up our annual budget deficits, which include funding our national tax cuts for the rich appetite.

In fact, Ronald Reagan effectively doubled social security taxes to help fund his tax cuts for the rich program and to pay for his record setting budget deficits. Yet, most Americans still think he was a tax cutting crusader.

At the end of the day, if we can use social security taxes to help pay the bills today we should count them as part of the total income taxes paid. It's really that simple.

- Mark

1 comment:

Bobbie said...

I just googled "Who pays taxes" but under Google IMAGES ... check out all the graphs that come up ... hundreds of them that say the same thing. The top 20% earners in America pay 85% of the tax burden. So the cartoon above has no truth whatsoever...