44% of Americans not Paying Income Taxes?

Several writers on WB have brought up this "fact" of current American demographics. The intent of this statistic is to prove that the wealthy are footing the bill to keep government going.

 

I can't verify whether this is true or not; maybe other American WB contributors can speak to its truthfulness. But I'll just give a Canadian example. 

 

The threshold to pay income tax in Canada is about $12,000 a year. Any income over that is taxed at 25%. This means someone making $13,000 pays $250 in taxes and someone making $20,000 a year pays $2,000 in taxes.

 

Most of the people under this $12,000 threshold are young people going to school. They are just working part-time or during the summer. It is kind of hard to justify taxing this economic group, for they just don't have that much money to give to government. $12,000 might keep a single person in food and shelter, but it is not a good life.

 

If a Canadian worker finds a fulltime job at minimum wage, they earn around $22,000 a year, which means $2,500 for their taxes. They would be regarded as a taxpayer.

 

If Canada and US are fairly similar countries, than that 44% figure suggests that many, many American workers are far below the threshold to pay taxes.

 

If this 44% figure is indeed correct, then the seeds for a serious revolution have been sown.

 

 

 

 

Comments

Stone-Eater Added Dec 23, 2017 - 4:18pm
Dave
 
Concerning Europe:
 
Why should the little guy have a bad conscience when he sees a possibility to NOT pay taxes when today's idols are neocon crooks hiding their fortunes in the Bahamas or other tax paradises ?
 
People are still as they ever were: They look up to so-called riches and proms as ideals.
 
And even when the riches pay the most of taxes to make governments running: What do THEY do in return for the population ? Shove the cash back to the enterprises by privatizing everything from Universities to schools in order to get THEIR profit philosophy across and let infrastructure and the public sector rot.
 
Ever been to Belgium ? That looks like third world made in Europe. Just an example....
Thomas Napers Added Dec 23, 2017 - 5:09pm
As seen by the first chart in this link, 47% of Americans pay no income taxes. While it may appear the Canadian tax system is friendlier to the rich, you have to keep in mind that the really wealthy make most of their money in the form of capital gains and the Canadian capital gains tax is 50%, while America’s is only 23.8%. 
opher goodwin Added Dec 23, 2017 - 6:31pm
Dave - it sure makes you wonder how people are surviving on such low salaries. It illustrates to me how the whole economy has gone haywire. We have a small number earning astronomical sums and a large number earning peanuts and struggling like mad. With globalisation and automation this is going to get worse. Something has to change or we will have a revolution.
Dino Manalis Added Dec 23, 2017 - 7:11pm
Tax cuts will hopefully help, but everyone should pay something to the federal government, that's fair.
Riley Brown Added Dec 24, 2017 - 12:03am
David your number is correct, almost half of Americans don't pay Federal taxes, and a significant portion actually get money sent to them if they file taxes and their "reported income is low".  It doesn't even matter if it's low because they refuse to work most of the year and live off government subsidizes.
 
In fact most of the tax comes from the most affluent people which sounds brilliantly fair to all those who pay nothing, but comes with serious side effects, especially when the rich bastards who pay for almost everything, have a bad year.  When that happens the government gets very little tax from anyone, and oi course they quickly try to take even more from those rich bastards to make up the difference.  It seems not to matter how much the rich pay, everyone who is subsidized thinks they should be paying even more.
 
Tax cutting is equally crazy because the public always demands cuts to taxes give at least as much of a benefit to the poor as the rich.  Tell me how do you give someone who doesn't pay taxes more of a tax break than someone who pays half their income in taxes. 
 
Oh it's not a trick question, our politicians have already solved that, they just give the poor back even more money, even thought they never paid any taxes to begin with. 
 
You can't make this stuff up, and it's all true.
A. Jones Added Dec 24, 2017 - 12:19am
I can't verify whether this is true or not;
 
Why can't you verify it?
Dave Volek Added Dec 24, 2017 - 12:34am
 
If you go the link Thomas provided, you see a different story. 22% (of that 44%) are retirees. Their pensions are able to provide the basics of life, but their income is still below the threshold to pay income taxes. I doubt this group is going on cruise ships or driving Cadillacs.
 
So that leaves another 22%. The article says many of these people are working. While they are below the threshold for income tax, they are still required to pay their "payroll" taxes (the article explains that most of it goes to health care insurance). In Canada, this "health care insurance" would be lumped in with income taxes.
 
And the article also mentions that a lot of young people don't pay income tax either. Add in the few percentage points for long-term welfare recipients (most of whom who could not hold down a job), that 44% is now fairly rational.
 
But notice the connotation when the blanket statement is made: 44% of Americans don't pay income taxes!
 
 
 
Dave Volek Added Dec 24, 2017 - 12:40am
Here's another interesting tidbit with the link Thomas provided:
 
What research has shown, however, is that most EITC recipients only get the credit for two consecutive years or less. Many of them soon move up the income ladder and start paying taxes back into the system. One paper found that, over their lifetime, these EITC recipients pay more in taxes than they receive in benefits:
 
Let's just repeat one more sentence:
 
Many of them soon move up the income ladder and start paying taxes back into the system.
 
I have stated several times on WB that most Canadians who use social security use it as a short-term measure to get them through a rough patch in life. This article says the American experience is the same!
 
What do you right-wing contributors have to say about that?
 
 
Dave Volek Added Dec 24, 2017 - 12:41am
Stone
The effects of corruption at the top of the pyramid help those on the bottom justify there corrupt activities. This is why we need a system of governance where truly honest people can become elected.
 
 
Dave Volek Added Dec 24, 2017 - 12:51am
Riley
 
You are buying into the rhetoric that an evil 44% of the country is not paying taxes.
 
Please study the link provided by Thomas. This tax/benefit social engineering program have been approved as an anti-poverty measure approved by both parties and probably many state governments. The people receiving these benefits are not in a great position to be paying a lot of taxes.
 
If they are forced to pay a "fair" tax, their families will suffer. These families don't take their kids to pro sport events, monster truck rallies, or vacations to Disneyland. They struggle getting school fees paid for music or basketball. There is not a lot of middle class luxury in these families--even with the benefits or low taxes.
 
If they are forced to pay a "fair" tax, the American government won't be getting that much additional revenue. Why put all these people through more misery to make some rich people feel better?
A. Jones Added Dec 24, 2017 - 1:04am
https://taxfoundation.org/summary-latest-federal-income-tax-data-2016-update/
 
 
Table 1: Summary of Federal Income Tax Data, 2014
Share of Total Income Taxes Paid:
 
Top 1% paid 39.48% of all income tax revenue;
Top 5% paid 59.97% of all income tax revenue;
Top 10% paid 70.88% of all income tax revenue;
Top 25% paid 86.78% of all income tax revenue;
Top 50% paid 97.25% of all income tax revenue.
 
Bottom 50% paid 2.75% of all income tax revenue.
 
— The share of income earned by the top 1 percent of taxpayers rose to 20.6 percent in 2014.  Their share of federal individual income taxes also rose, to 39.5 percent.
 
— The top 1% paid a greater share of individual income taxes (39.5%) than the bottom 90% combined (29.1%).
 
All data at the Tax Foundation are from IRS.gov.
Dave Volek Added Dec 24, 2017 - 1:12am
A. Jones
So what is your point? The bottom 50% don't have enough income to contribute a lot to the tax revenue. Let them choose between rent and food! That's your answer.
 
I have my suspicion of this group and the data. It seems like a right-wing lobby group to reduce tax policy for the rich.
 
A. Jones Added Dec 24, 2017 - 1:17am
http://business.financialpost.com/opinion/how-much-of-a-fair-share-do-canadas-top-earners-pay-you-might-be-surprised
 
"According to Statistics Canada data, in 2013 the top 10 per cent earned 35 per cent of Canada’s total income yet paid 54 per cent of federal and provincial income taxes."
A. Jones Added Dec 24, 2017 - 1:23am
So what is your point?
 
I have two interrelated points:
 
1) Nothing is easier than to verify these kinds of statistics. "I can't verify it" is the excuse of someone in denial.
 
2) The rich (top 5% of income earners) foot close to 60% of all income tax revenue. The remaining 95% pay of income earners pay the remaining 40% (with those at the bottom paying no income tax at all).
 
Unless you have some other, specific number in mind, most people would say that paying 60% of all income tax is a "fair share" of the total.
A. Jones Added Dec 24, 2017 - 1:26am
It seems like a right-wing lobby group to reduce tax policy for the rich.
 
The data come from the IRS. Maybe the IRS is also right-wing lobby group. Could be. You never know.
 
opher goodwin Added Dec 24, 2017 - 4:10am
Dave - the right don't have a lot to say. They don't see this as a bunch of poor people working hard to try to get through on low wages/income in an uncaring system; they prefer to see it as a bunch of scroungers living off the State.
The gig economy has put millions on the breadline, scurrying around trying to make ends meet.
The truth of the matter is that that 5% are sitting pretty on enormous  incomes gained through exploiting, scamming and privilege while a good 50% are struggling to pay the rent or put food on the table.
George N Romey Added Dec 24, 2017 - 7:36am
Opher your right. Just look at the guys running Uber-which by the way loses billions but when your in the club people through money at you. It started with the dot com hysteria. Come up with something neat, get cheap labor and get yourself in the rich man’s club,
opher goodwin Added Dec 24, 2017 - 9:01am
George - it stinks. But never mind - right now we celebrate life and forget the shit outside the door!! Family and friends - spread the love. That's what counts.
opher goodwin Added Dec 24, 2017 - 12:30pm
Nicholas - to explain that to you we'd have to have the figures for the income of that top 5%.
Eight men own as much as the poorest 50%
Eight men now control as much wealth as the world's poorest 3.6 billion people, according to a new report from Oxfam International.
 
When the discrepancy is that high the amount those guys pay in taxes (assuming they are not tax evading like Trump) is not a lot.
opher goodwin Added Dec 24, 2017 - 3:17pm
Nicholas - I hear you sounding off but I do not hear you addressing the basic problem - Eight men own as much as the poorest 50%
Eight men now control as much wealth as the world's poorest 3.6 billion people, according to a new report from Oxfam International.
You can shout all you like about envy but that is certainly not the issue with me. I do not envy the superrich. Indeed I feel sorry for their addiction. I am well off. I had a good career and have a good pension. It is not me wishing for more; it is me pointing out the inequality. It is so extreme as to be obscene.
I suggest you go out tomorrow and find the families living under the flyovers and explain to them why you think it is OK that Eight men own as much as the poorest 50%. Eight men now control as much wealth as the world's poorest 3.6 billion people, according to a new report from Oxfam International. That they deserve to be where they are and that the rich should not be taxed more.
You live in the richest country in the world but that wealth is being funnelled up to the top 5%. And you think that is right. I think it is wrong.
The 1% constitute 1.5 million people, including movie stars, producers, doctors, lawyers, sports stars, junk yard owners, maybe some members of your own family, etc.
Most of them (& me) got there through sacrifice, education, good financial decisions, talent and hard work. Unlike y’all bunch of whiney losers.
They got there through privilege, luck and ruthless exploitation. They think they are worth it. I think they are immoral. Nobody, no matter how talented, deserves rewards at that level.
I had a great career and got to the top through talent. I now have another career - writing - and will get to the top through talent. But I do not want the sort of rewards or lifestyle those creeps have. I think they are immoral. When I get there I will use my money to do good.
Selfishness, greed and inequality is what is destroying the USA and UK.
I predict a big retribution.
Katharine Otto Added Dec 24, 2017 - 6:35pm
Dave,
All taxes are regressive.  The focus on paying taxes instead of profligate government spending is misplaced.  Why should anyone pay taxes to a government out of control on spending?  
opher goodwin Added Dec 24, 2017 - 6:55pm
Katharine - then address the problem of government spending and hold them accountable. But have 8 people owning half the world is simply immoral.
Dave Volek Added Dec 24, 2017 - 7:35pm
Katherine
"All taxes are regressive" is a platitude with no substance.
 
Back in medieval times, we put bridges across rivers to join the two cities into one city. When the two cities were connected, it became cheaper to move goods across the river--and a whole cascade of economic opportunities for both sides of the river erupted.
 
The bridges were usually financed by government. In effect, the government made an investment into its infrastructure to improve commerce. If these governments had modern taxation systems, they would have earned revenues than it cost to build the bridge.
 
Today we have a system of interlinking highways, railroads, ports, airports etc. mostly financed by government from tax revenue. Government get more money back in taxes that were put into these projects. 
 
Today we put a lot of money into primary education so that our six-year olds will become more productive workers 12 years later. Even low level jobs need a certain level of literacy and numeracy skills. The investment in education for all is an investment that has proven to pay social dividends.
 
Today, most western countries have public health care. This keeps minimum-wage workers in reasonable health so that they are still employable for business. If businesses were to pay these workers enough money to cover their own health care costs, many would have to shut down.
 
Today (and unfortunately) we have a social class that is on long term social assistance. Most cannot work. Some are abusing the system. But when people cannot afford to feed themselves, they often take to petty crime to make ends meet. So paying someone $1000 a month is better than sending them to jail at about $100,000 a year.
 
If all these progressive causes are actually regressive, then society should be going downhill, right?
 
I don't know about you Katherine, buy my life in 2017 is a lot better than my life in 1967, when my family belonged to the working poor. I don't want to go back to that golden age. And the more I understand it, most of us are better off.
 
And taxes paid for all those investments.
 
 
Dave Volek Added Dec 24, 2017 - 7:46pm
Thomas
 
Arab Spring was about the increase in the price of food. The poor people of those affected countries used to be able to afford to feed themselves, but the increase in food prices drove them to the streets. They had no choice because they saw starvation in their future. This forced a change of government.
 
But I don't think you get it. You could have convinced them that slowly starving was not such a bad thing.
 
A. Jones Added Dec 24, 2017 - 9:58pm
8 people owning half the world is simply immoral.
 
So how many people ought to own half the world if not 8?
 
Cite a specific number.
Riley Brown Added Dec 25, 2017 - 12:51am
 Dave Volek I too was skeptical that so many Americans don't pay Federal tax but it turned out to be supper easy to see why.  There are many free online tax services for people who don't have complicated taxes and I ran a few numbers.  What I found shocked me.
 
I can't remember the exact amount, but when my hypothetical family made less than something like $45,000 a year they didn't have to pay ANY Federal taxes, and the lower their reported income was the more money they got sent to them for free, just for filing. 
 
Then I noticed that the break even point was only a little less than the AVERAGE family income for the US.
 
In the US every year we increase taxes on the rich so we can be kinder to the middle class and poor, and we've been doing for so long that the rich now pay the vast majority of the taxes and the poor nothing at all. 
Riley Brown Added Dec 25, 2017 - 12:56am
 A. Jones just because a few people own a lot of money doesn't mean they consume it.
 
Bill Gates has plenty and can't take any of it with him when he dies so he spends and gives away his fortune just like every other rich person.  Most family fortunes are spent within 2 generations, it all goes back to the little people.
 
Even huge endowments don't really do much for the rich people like Getty and Hilton, they do employ armies of people for generations.  Once again the money goes back to the little people.
 
I like to live well and no poor people ever created a job for me, none can afford to pay me what I like to be paid, and if I ever wanted to buy a relatively new used car, I'd look in rich neighborhoods.
A. Jones Added Dec 25, 2017 - 1:10am
World population by end-of-year 2017 is estimated at 7.6 billion.
 
Apparently, in order for Opher Goodwin to sleep soundly at night in the knowledge that ownership of the world is "moral", it would require that each person in the world own 1/7,600,000,000th of it.
 
Let's see how this works out in terms of area:
 
The total surface area of the earth is about 197 million square miles.
 
197,000,000 / 7,600,000,000 = .026 square miles per person.
 
That, of course, includes the surface area of the oceans.
 
The land area is about 30% of the total area = approx. 59,000,000 square miles.
 
59,000,000 / 7,600,000,000 = 0.008 square miles per person.
 
According to Opher Goodwin, in order for the world to be a moral place to live, each person in the world ought to own 1/8,000th of a square mile. 
 
1 mile = 5,280 feet;
1 square mile = 5,280 x 5,280 = approx. 28,000,000 square feet.
 
1/8000th of square mile = approx. 28,000,000 sq. ft. / 8,000 = approx. 3,500 square feet. That's a plot of land 70 feet long by 50 feet wide.
 
RESOLVED:
 
According to Opher Goodwin, the earth will only be a moral place to live if each person on it owned a plot of land 70 feet long by 50 feet wide.
opher goodwin Added Dec 25, 2017 - 5:06am
A.Jones - Ha Ha. Senseless stupidity as usual. You seek to defend the indefensible. Reflects on your own morality I think.
George N Romey Added Dec 25, 2017 - 8:36am
When we were a much more equal society in the 50s and 60s this was less of an issue but taxes have always been an issue. Also our society was built upon a much more equal society and it’s why we can no longer support it without massive debt. The middle class world has been held up by debt.
Dave Volek Added Dec 25, 2017 - 10:27am
Riley et al
 
If the 44% is such a deplorable figure, I haven't heard any kind of solution as to how to fix it. Reading between the lines, I have to conclude that you people want to either tax the poor or just cut out all social programs. This will put a lot of people in destitution--and you people seem to be OK with that. And if the poor start taking to the street in protests, just put them in jail. And when the jails get full, just shoot them.
 
If government expenditures are to be the solution, I have offered a list on this thread:
 
1. Infrastructure
2. Primary Education
3. Public Health Care*
4. Social Assistance
 
 
Do we stop building and maintaining roads and sewers and electrical grids?
Do we stop educating children of the lower 50% because there is no way they can afford to send their kids to school?
Do we stop allowing the lower 50% access to health services because they just can't afford it?
Do we cut out all forms of social assistance, including pensions of people who spent their entire lives in the working poor class? 
 
You people don't like this 44%. What is your solution to this "injustice"?
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
opher goodwin Added Dec 25, 2017 - 11:25am
Dave - I too wait the answer to your question. The truth is I don't think they care.
Bill H. Added Dec 25, 2017 - 12:59pm
It is forgotten that many on top pay very little, if any tax.
Over $70 to $100 billion dollars is lost each year due to tax loopholes.
As an example, more than $21 trillion dollars is stashed in offshore tax havens such as the Cayman Islands which is home to more than 85,000 companies, which exceeds their own population.
Equity swapping is another trick that allows two parties to exchange the gain and loss assets without actually transferring ownership.
These days, about 80% of Fortune 100 CEO's have "deferred compensation plans" that allow their earnings to continue growing tax-deferred for +10 years.
Another trick is to use a method called "trust freezing" to avoid paying estate taxes and trading common stock for preferred stock, put some of it into a trust, then live off of the dividends.
Corporations reinvesting profits derived from offshore operations do not have to pay taxes on this money as long as it stays offshore.
I suspect the latest tax plan will end up being a real incentive to keep jobs overseas, rather than stimulate bringing offshore-stashed profits back to the US.
Dave Volek Added Dec 25, 2017 - 1:37pm
Bill H.
 
There are all sorts of accounting tricks to move money around. One business colleague of mine had a company that specialized in municipal water systems for smaller towns. He had two front companies: one dealt with new facility construction and the other for maintenance of existing facilities. He had three shell companies backing the two front companies. He was always moving money around these five companies to pay the least tax. His accountants had devised elaborate formulas to tell him when and how much money to move.
 
Of course, the libertarian thinkers will say that high tax rates drove the man to create these five companies. But I think he would still have done it even if the tax rate was 5%. He was almost more motivated into not giving money to the government than keeping it for himself.
 
Opher
 
The irony is that many wealthy people depend on the working poor to work for them and to provide services for their recreational activities. The rich are very much dependent on the working poor, yet the rich demand that poor pay equivalent taxes.
 
From what I've seen on WB, I don't think my questions will be answered.
 
 
opher goodwin Added Dec 25, 2017 - 1:51pm
Dave - depend on is too kind a word in my opinion Dave - use is the word I'd deploy.
George N Romey Added Dec 25, 2017 - 4:38pm
Some people should spend time in a 3rd world country to realize what life is like for all when there is massive poor. Forget beautiful safe parks and beaches. Forget a modern, clean safe mass transit system. Ask people in São Paulo about the traffic. Ask people in Rio about risk of kidnap of teenagers.
 
Few people like paying taxes. The rich have the means to do so if they wish.
A. Jones Added Dec 25, 2017 - 5:46pm
You seek to defend the indefensible.
 
You claimed it was "immoral" for only 8 people to own half the world. I asked you to state how many people ought to own half the world to make everything "moral" by your lights, and you ducked the question . . . just as you duck every question that demands a quantitative answer.
 
Reflects on your own morality I think.
 
Perhaps. But my post above reflects on your own thinking skills. You're a dunce.
 
Which brings me to a correction of the above calculation. You did comment on ownership of HALF the world, not the whole world. So instead of owning a plot of land 3500 sq. feet, 7.6 billion people will each own a plot of land half that area, or 1750 sq. feet. The square root of 1750 is about 42.
 
So I stand corrected. Opher Goodwin claims that the world (actually, half the world) will be moral if each of 7.6 billion people owns a plot of land about 42 feet by 42 feet.
 
Cozy.
 
A. Jones Added Dec 25, 2017 - 5:48pm
yet the rich demand that poor pay equivalent taxes.
 
The poor pay the equivalent price for a gallon of milk as do the rich. That's unfair, right? Shouldn't the price of a gallon of milk adjust to the income of each consumer? If not, why not?
A. Jones Added Dec 25, 2017 - 6:03pm
The rich have the means to do so if they wish.
 
According to IRS data, the rich already pay most of the income tax. 
 
Your position is pretty clear even if you won't say so openly:  you want the rich to pay 100% of the income tax and to support everyone else.
opher goodwin Added Dec 25, 2017 - 7:18pm
A.Jones - the way your mind works is really strange. How many people's wealth would be the equivalent of 3.6 billion  human beings. I don't know. But I know for sure that it is not eight.
I'm am surprised that anyone can be so fatuous as to ask daft questions and not understand the immorality of the situation. A lack of empathy and compassion I suppose.
I do not want a world of total equality; I want a world of equality of opportunity and a hierarchy where the top strata live within the bounds of reason and not with ludicrously immoral incomes. As I have previously stated - 200 times the income of the poorest worker sounds reasonable to me.
George N Romey Added Dec 25, 2017 - 8:16pm
Opher they’ve been sold on this idea that all the super rich are worth what they have. Increasingly it’s generational. They were just lucky enough to come sliding out of the right vagina.
A. Jones Added Dec 25, 2017 - 8:22pm
I do not want a world of total equality; I want a world of equality of opportunity
 
That's a difference without a distinction. There can never be "equality of opportunity." There can only be freedom of opportunity, i.e., abolish politically-implemented barriers to entry into a particular field (academics, sports, business, media, etc.). But "equality of opportunity"? Doesn't exist, never existed, will never exist, and doesn't even make sense. Different people have different backgrounds, educations, talents, perceptions, ambitions, etc. Since there's no way to equalize those among people, there's no way to equalize the opportunities each might leverage. But freedom of opportunity is achievable.
 
Everyone has the freedom of opportunity to apply to MIT. Not everyone has the equality of opportunity to be accepted. That's reality. Get over it.
 
and a hierarchy where the top strata live within the bounds of reason
 
So you're OK with a hierarchy as long as it's a hierarchy you approve of.  Got it. Anyway, the rich already live within the bounds of reason. It's you and the left who don't live within the bounds of reason. You don't get to decide how others ought to live or what their compensation ought to be. Wanting to do so marks you as an envious loser with the ambition of a tin-pot tyrant.
 
Perhaps you could self-publish another eBook on Amazon about that topic. I'm sure Dave Voleck would like it.
Katharine Otto Added Dec 25, 2017 - 8:48pm
Dave,
It would take a book to answer all the points you make.  Maybe saying all taxes are regressive is too simplistic, but we in the US pay taxes to four levels of government, if we live in a city.  Education consumes most of the local, and state governments, as well as a good portion of the federal government budgets, yet we have high school graduates who can barely read and write.  I think we could get a much better bang for our bucks if we spent on fundamentals like the three R's, but taught well.
 
Spending on infrastructure is another bugaboo.  Most infrastructure spending is on highways, for the private automobile, which is a de facto huge subsidy for the automobile-oil-real estate industry.  Public transportation and passenger rail have been squeezed out of the mindset, for lack of user-friendly routes and schedules, except in the largest cities.  Yet, lack of transportation is a huge reason people can't get jobs.  The "working poor"  often cannot afford cars, unless they live in them, so they are limited in where they can work.
 
I still say the government(s) are out of control with their spending.  As far as health is concerned, insurance and pharmaceuticals drive costs. 
 
I'm not opposed to government.  In fact, I would like to see a government that is administrative and does its own work instead of hiring private contractors to do it.  I believe government has an obligation to keep drainage ditches maintained so cities don't flood, to serve public health needs to prevent epidemics, and to  provide for basic education, and public transportation, services that benefit rich and poor alike. 
 
I even like some of the things FDR did, such as the CCC to provide employment and re-forestation.  Re-forestation would  be a great way to slow down global warming.  I think the government should take better care of its war veterans instead of creating more maimed and mutilated veterans with our incessant wars. 
 
I can't speak about returning to the past, because the past was prelude today.  While you think things are better, I believe we are on the verge of economic and social collapse, partly because our priorities are so out of whack.   
opher goodwin Added Dec 26, 2017 - 5:48am
A.Jones - a good education for all, a removal of prejudice and discrimination (race, gender, class, religion, culture, creed), and end to the 'old boy' network and privilege. That would be a good start.
A meritocracy would not only be good for individuals it would be good for the country too. Right now we have the wealthy buying their positions, using nepotism to place their offspring and weighting the game in their favour.
Getting rid of all that would produce equal opportunities. It is not impossible. All you are doing is supporting an abominable and highly unfair situation - as if there is nothing that can be done about it and it is perfectly reasonable.
It isn't reasonable and we do not have to put up with it.
opher goodwin Added Dec 26, 2017 - 5:53am
A. Jones - BTW - Yes. Isn't it obvious to anyone with a gnat's brain? We are all in favour of the things we approve of. We are not in favour of things we do not approve of.
What a daft thing to say. Or was it sneeringly intended as a put-down? In which case it was pathetic.
I believe in fairness and justice. I am opposed to the massive inequality that is dividing the world. It is immoral and highly destructive.
A. Jones Added Dec 26, 2017 - 10:03am
a good education for all, a removal of prejudice and discrimination (race, gender, class, religion, culture, creed), and end to the 'old boy' network and privilege. That would be a good start.
 
Better:
 
1) Freedom of choice in education for all (because different people have different ideas regarding what a "good education" is. A true liberal respects the right of people to make those choices and act on them. That's why you're not a true liberal.
 
2) Abolition of all legislation that favors one group over all other groups.
 
Those are achievable goals.
 
Abolishing prejudice and discrimination on the level of the individual is, of course, a fantasy. We can't all be Albert Schweitzer. The main thing is to prevent prejudice and discrimination from being mandated by government just to placate some other group, or help government achieve some kooky agenda of social engineering. Abolishing affirmative action — which is discrimination based on race — would be a good start.
A. Jones Added Dec 26, 2017 - 10:10am
I believe in fairness and justice.
 
You believe only in your subjective notions of fairness and justice and discount other people's ideas of fairness and justice. All tin-pot tyrants  have the same moral narcissism and cognitive processes as you display in your posts, and they all claimed to believe in "fairness and justice."
 
Nothing new there.
A. Jones Added Dec 26, 2017 - 10:12am
Re-forestation would  be a great way to slow down global warming.
 
The earth is already being reforested (known as the "greening of the earth"). Look it up.
 
Global cooling will be the problem going forward, not global warming. Your reading is more than 10 years out of date.
Stephen Hunter Added Dec 29, 2017 - 11:43am
Dave, you raise some excellent points. All the general public knows is that taxes are being cut, not realizing what that means for them. The Trump base for example will no doubt be disappointed when they find out. They think the fact that most of the tax cuts go to the ultra wealthy, is just "fake news". 
opher goodwin Added Dec 29, 2017 - 11:57am
A.Jones - OK I'll go along with some of that. I don't mind some choice in education within approved variations and with full inspection to prevent indoctrination or too narrowing of the curriculum.
I would also remove all legislation that favours one group over another and support legislation that insists on equal practices at interviews.
opher goodwin Added Dec 29, 2017 - 11:59am
A.Jones - there is indeed a greening due to CO2 levels but regrown rainforest lacks the diversity and does not provide the habitats necessary for rich communities. At present pristine rainforest is still being destroyed at alarming rates and animals and plants are being made extinct. Once they're gone they can't be brought back.
opher goodwin Added Dec 29, 2017 - 12:00pm
A.Jones - both warming and cooling will create major problems for us. At present we are warming up and that is going to be a nightmare for many people.
Stephen Hunter Added Dec 29, 2017 - 12:05pm
I agree Opher. We may even see some major cooling in some areas, however the overall planet's temp continues to rise, which causes sea levels to rise, which inevitably will cause major coastal problems around the globe. (already is)
opher goodwin Added Dec 29, 2017 - 12:15pm
Stephen - yes - many of the low lying islands are already experiencing problems and a large number of the world's cities are on the coast. It is going to be very difficult - and that's apart from the storms, hurricanes, droughts, floods and forest fires.
Mike Haluska Added Dec 29, 2017 - 10:53pm
Bill H - your asinine statement:
 
"It is forgotten that many on top pay very little, if any tax."
 
is pure class warfare mythology, as demonstrated by IRS data (not "Breitbart").  First of all there is a distinction which "progressives" can't seem to comprehend - there is a huge difference between INCOME and WEALTH.  Income Tax is a tax on, you guessed it, INCOME.  Many wealthy people have relatively small taxable income compared to their wealth/net worth.  They pay additional billions in various property taxes and inheritance taxes on their assets, which you "progressives" never consider.
 
So, if you think that the top 25% paying 87% of the tax burden while the bottom 47% PAY NOTHING is "unfair" . . .  I TOTALLY AGREE WITH YOU!      
A. Jones Added Dec 30, 2017 - 1:24am
as demonstrated by IRS data
 
But according to Volek, the IRS is a right-wing lobby group.
opher goodwin Added Dec 30, 2017 - 7:14am
Mike - not class warfare - fact. Tax evasion is rife. Your own President bragged about it.
Stephen Hunter Added Dec 30, 2017 - 8:29am
So Mike, answer me this; why should Walmart get to hire workers at wages so low, that the government ends up subsidizing a portion of their full time working people's income with Food Stamps? You gotta admit that just ain't right? 
To me there are so many angles around the tax thing that only the ultra wealthy have the resources to hire the lawyers required to keep them just on the right side of the law. So we end up with only a few families controlling the economic destiny of the world. We CANNOT have that! 
George N Romey Added Dec 30, 2017 - 8:54am
Opher you hit upon it. There are so many loopholes in the tax system that the super rich already have the means to a lower tax rate. At best maybe they need to hire fewer tax attorneys to find and exploit loopholes.
Bill Kamps Added Dec 30, 2017 - 9:44am
Dave, while some 47% of people pay no Income Tax, they all pay the FICA tax, which is a very regressive tax.  This covers Social Security, and payments to fund Medicare.  This tax is the same percent for all workers, and is capped at around $125K of income.  Meaning that someone making $250K of income is paying half the tax rate of someone making $50K of income.   Obviously someone making $500K in income is paying only a fraction of the percent of someone making $50K. 
 
Most people, not just the super rich, dont pay the full tax rate because of deductions.  The tax "loopholes" that George refers to are of course deductions when he makes benefit of them.  We all take take deductions, and yes the code is very complicated and the rich pay enough taxes that it is worth their while to find all the possible deductions, and even to structure their businesses to minimize their tax bill.  Who wouldnt do the same if they could? It is legal.
 
Unfortunately the recent tax bill will make these loopholes more complicated, such that the rich like Trump and other politicians can afford to take advantage of them, while most of us cant afford the cost of deciphering the tax code, and getting the deduction.
 
There are also a myriad of other taxes that the poor pay.  Sales tax, another regressive tax, property tax should they own a home, etc.  Most all of our taxes except the Income Tax are pretty regressive. The tax rate on a small home is the same rate as the tax rate on a huge home, for example. 
 
 
George N Romey Added Dec 30, 2017 - 10:46am
As I've said before the bulk of the tax burden doesn't go to the super rich, most of who get a substantial part of their income from passive sources and therefore a lower rate.  Those carrying the tax burden are typically high five figures to the near rich, which is very subjective but for argument's sake probably around the $500K mark.  These are usually small business owners and mid level professionals (or what's left of mid level professionals). While one could describe their lives as comfortable they by no means are they living in a manner we think of as "rich", particularly those towards the low six figure end.
 
Moreover, many of these people in order to get these jobs must live in more urban, expensive areas.  I doubt Dunedin, FL, population 36,000,
has a huge number of opportunities for the professional class.  My highest grossing year was in 2009 when I made a little less than $150K.  I lived in NYC and had no family.  I certainly lived well but constantly was forced to economize.
 
Finally, yes most Americans take deductions.  However, it doesn't take a lot of research to understand the super rich with a complicated and diverse means of making a living are able to hire tax attorneys to find loopholes not available to Joe Plant Manager or Sally Human Resources Director.
 
 
Stephen Hunter Added Dec 30, 2017 - 11:14am
Good point George, if you do the math it is those around that 500K level who pay the most % wise. and funny thing is, many of this group agree with paying their fair share. Seems to only be the super rich whose mandate is the expansion of wealth at any cost- that seems to be their only reason for living; how can i defer more taxes??? 
Mike Haluska Added Dec 30, 2017 - 1:52pm
Stephen - your question:
 
"why should Walmart get to hire workers at wages so low, that the government ends up subsidizing a portion of their full time working people's income with Food Stamps? You gotta admit that just ain't right?"
 
is puzzling.  Did someone put a gun to Walmart employees and order them to work at Walmart?  Lots of places pay a LOT less than Walmart - what do you propose be done with them?  As far as the Food Stamp program, I think it is NOT a valid function of government to act as a charity. 
Mike Haluska Added Dec 30, 2017 - 2:05pm
George and Stephen - let's just cut to the chase. 
 
What is the "fair" percentage of taxes that people making over $500,000/year should pay?  What is your "justification" (other than old fashioned envy - the flip side of greed) for making those with higher income pay a higher percentage?  
 
Did it ever occur to you two that maybe those people actually earned their money?  If someone becomes wealthy because he worked hard and invented something that benefits all mankind should he be "rewarded" by having most of his earnings stripped away from him?  If this was the case, how many people would sacrifice, struggle and risk their life savings and security just to have the reward stripped away from them in the interests of "fairness"????
 
Here's my advice to the both of you - GROW THE FRAKK UP!  Spend more time advancing your own interests and less time worrying about how to confiscate from others who earned their wealth honestly.  Otherwise relocate to another country that celebrates this nonsense and enjoy your new life where everyone is "equal" . . .  equally miserable, that is!  Because that is the ultimate fate of every society that implements the ideology you advocate.
opher goodwin Added Dec 30, 2017 - 4:10pm
Mike - you sound like a happy guy!
Perhaps you're not being taxed enough?
Dave Volek Added Dec 30, 2017 - 7:42pm
Bill
 
From the article Thomas linked to, it was obviously that most working Americans had some kind of mandatory deduction for their medical insurance. From my Canadian perspective, this would constitute an "income tax"--and it seems most working Americans are paying income taxes parallel to Canadian workers.
 
The frightening thing is how the 44% (or 47% or whatever) are being portrayed as loafers, free loaders, and scam artists for not contributing income tax. It almost seems it would be better for America if the bottom 50% were not there.
 
Many wealthier Americans are failing to see the contribution to the economy the working poor provide. Just imagine the cost of private and public goods if everyone got $50,000 a year. That would cut into the "profits" of wealthy people a lot more than income taxes.  
 
Dave Volek Added Dec 30, 2017 - 7:58pm
Mike
I consider a fair tax rate being similar to determining a fair price for a product or service. If it costs a factory $100 to produce a widget, it could sell it for $110 and make a profit. Or it could sell it for $200 and make more profit. Of course, if the price is too high, the factory risks losing sales. But 50 units at $200 is more profitable than 100 units at $110.  But that's not up to you and me: the factory determines its selling price, and probably has an MBA or two figuring the best price.
 
In a like manner, the government sets the tax rate. If it sets them too high, high-income earners drop out of the productive economy--and the economy loses their talents. So the government tries to determine a rate that maximizes its revenues, yet keep the high-income earners in the game.
 
There is good evidence that high-income earners drop out when they are taxed at an 80% marginal tax rate. And there is good evidence that high-income earners stay in the productive economy when they are taxed at 50%. So most western governments are playing a game of keeping the marginal tax rates somewhere between 50% and 80%.
 
Looking at the tax rates in this way takes out the emotion of what is fair and not fair.
 
And we could even argue that 5% may be unfair--which negligible income tax revenue. 
 
As we have discussed before, I believe in lowering income and corporate taxes in favor of raising VATs. But the world is a long ways to reaching this state.
 
 
 
 
 
A. Jones Added Dec 31, 2017 - 4:03am
I believe in lowering income and corporate taxes in favor of raising VATs.
 
The U.S. cannot raise its VAT because it doesn't have a VAT. Thank God for that. VATs are horrible and have many downsides, the least of which is that they're hidden. If a government is going to burden its citizens with taxes, the citizens should at least know when and where they're being taxed.
 
And how strange that you're constantly thinking of ways to "fund" bigger government rather than thinking of ways to reduce the size and scope of government. After all, the smaller the government's size and scope, the less tax revenue is needed to fund it.
Dave Volek Added Dec 31, 2017 - 6:24pm
A. Jones
Canada's 5% VAT is quite open. It's on almost every sales receipt for consumer products and business invoices. But I guess you more than I. 
 
I'll just bring back these five questions I posed earlier to which I received no response:
 
Do we stop building and maintaining roads and sewers and electrical grids?
Do we stop educating children of the lower 50% because there is no way they can afford to send their kids to school?
Do we stop allowing the lower 50% access to health services because they just can't afford it?
Do we cut out all forms of social assistance, including pensions of people who spent their entire lives in the working poor class? 
 
 
 
A. Jones Added Jan 1, 2018 - 2:03pm
1. Do we stop building and maintaining roads and sewers and electrical grids?
 
Not at all. Privatize them. Private firms are great at maintaining their own capital investments (because they, and their stockholders, have "skin in the game." The public sector experiences nothing but constant short-falls when it comes to roads, sewers, and power.
 
2. Do we stop educating children of the lower 50% because there is no way they can afford to send their kids to school?
 
Not at all. Privatize educational services and allow the parents of the 50% below the median income level choose what sort of education they would like their children to have. After all: the children are theirs, not the state's. Under the current system of public education, children below the 50% median income level are getting short-changed by being dumped into public schools that provide little education but which use fat public funds to pay school administrators, guidance counselors, psychologists, etc. To protect such children's "fragile" self-esteem, they are then promoted to the next grade even if they haven't demonstrated proficiency in their current grade. It makes liberals "feel good about themselves" but it creates a growing population of functional illiterates who can only read at the 4th grade level, cannot write grammatically at all, and are perpetually on some public hand-out system. I conclude from the satisfied smiles on liberals' faces that this is the desired result: a population that is completely dependent on their handouts, and which will therefore vote in very predictable ways.
 
3. Do we stop allowing the lower 50% access to health services because they just can't afford it?
 
Not at all. Structure the market for health care in exactly the same as we have structured the markets for telecom, Internet, smart devices, and ordinary consumer goods at places like Was-Mart: privatize it and encourage competition and innovation to drive prices down as it drives choices and quality up. We certainly don't want a shitty health care system like the one in Canada where people are 100% insured but where only a much smaller percentage actually get the ACCESS to quality healthcare that such insurance coverage promises them. "Access to Health Insurance" does not equal "Access to health care." Canadians are lucky, however: those who cannot get access to quality health care easily cross their southern border and come to the United States.
 
4. Do we cut out all forms of social assistance, including pensions of people who spent their entire lives in the working poor class? 
 
How is a private pension an example of "social assistance"?
 
Most social assistance can more efficiently (and humanely) be done via private charities. And a leviathan program like Social Security should be privatized, as they've done in Chile.
 
If you knew something about economics, you'd know that the main problem is how to increase productivity, not how to make access to the fruits of productivity easier increasing demand. Increasing productivity automatically increases the fruits of productivity (i.e., more stuff); increases in the fruits of productivity automatically increase demand (because supply and demand are the same thing, at root); and therefore access to things people want and need becomes easier — all of it automatically, without government's help.
 
In fact, that's actually the problem right there. Under conditions of laissez faire and privatization, government officials mainly become superfluous. A society just doesn't need them. That must instill feelings of extreme terror in public officials ("The public doesn't need me!").
A. Jones Added Jan 1, 2018 - 2:47pm
Canada's 5% VAT is quite open
 
It's not just a 5% VAT. It's a GST (Goods and Services Tax) plus an HST ("Harmonized Sales Tax"), or a PST ("Provincial Sales Tax") making the following totals (in boldface):
 
Alberta: 5% (GST only);
British Columbia: 12% (GST 5% + PST 7%);
Manitoba: 13% (GST 5% + PST 8%);
New Brunswick: 15% (HST only);
Newfoundland & Labrador: 15% (HST only);
Northwest Territories: 5% (GST only);
Nova Scotia: 15% (HST only);
Nunavut: 5% (GST only);
Ontario: 13% (HST only);
Prince Edward Island: 15% (HST only);
Quebec: 14.975% (GST 5% + QST 9.975%);
Saskatchewan: 10% (GST 5% + PST 5%);
Yukon: 5% (GST only).
 
The average consumption tax in Canada, therefore, is about 11%.
 
Both Canada and the UK have lost many billions of dollars and pounds on VAT fraud schemes such as "Carousel" schemes (or "Missing Trader Fraud"). Contrary to government and liberal propaganda, a VAT is not "easier to enforce", nor does it encourage compliance. In fact, all countries with VATs have thriving underground economies that sprang up for the sole purpose of evading the VAT. How's that for "compliance" and "ease of enforcement"?
 
In fact, there are companies, especially in the EU, that specialize in writing out fake VAT invoices.
 
Ultimately, a VAT is simply a national (or federal-level) sales tax levied on end-user consumers, whether the consumer is a business or an individual. Like any flat tax, such as a sales tax, it's regressive (which is why Canada and other countries need more bureaucracies to offer exemptions to certain families on certain goods). Like any tax, however, a VAT will always have distortionary effects on production.
 
"A VAT forces businesses to bear heavy compliance costs in order to serve as tax collectors for government.  Exempting certain goods, such as necessities like food, exacerbates this problem, as firms have to segregate records according to tax status and submit multiple separate forms to the government.  Moreover, most countries with VATs not only exempt certain goods, but also apply different tax rates to different products.  In some countries, there are as many as six separate tax rates.  Such complexity disproportionately hurts the small businesses on which many families depend and which create the most jobs.  Canada's VAT is estimated to have driven one-fourth of small businesses into the underground economy within two years of its adoption in 1991."
 
Slaying Leviathan: The Moral Case for Tax Reform
 

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