Skip to comments.Your Fair Share
Posted on 09/22/2012 4:14:03 AM PDT by Kaslin
Barack Obama doesn't think the rich are paying their fair share of income taxes. So what is their fair share?
I posed this question to Fox News commentator Juan Williams in Dallas the other day. "The top 10 percent of income earners are paying 71 percent of all income taxes," I said. "Isn't that enough?" Although Juan was trying to defend the Obama position, he didn't have an answer.
Then I turned the question around. "The bottom one-half of the population is paying zero, or close to zero, income taxes. What's their fair share?" He didn't have an answer to that question either.
Perhaps you have an answer. The median household income in the United States is $50,054, according to the latest Census Bureau report. People earning up to this amount are contributing almost nothing to the operations of the federal government, even though the government is spending one out of every four dollars in our economy.
When you couple that with the fact that nearly half the population is receiving at least one entitlement benefit, we have a dangerous political situation on our hand. If roughly half the population is receiving and not paying, they have an obvious self interest in seeing taxes and spending go higher and higher. This could be a ticket to national bankruptcy.
So back to the original question. What portion of the federal burden should each of us pay? Actually, I have an answer. It's called the Biblical tithe.
One of the reasons why tax rates are so high is that about half of all the income earned in our economy is not taxed at all. This income escapes taxation, courtesy of the standard deduction and tons of other deductions, credits and loopholes in the tax code. What if we wiped out all of these escape routes and taxed all income at one low rate? Then we would all be paying a tax rate of about 10%.
If we want to replace the corporate income tax as part of reform, our rate would have to rise to 11%. But with these low rates the economy would be more efficient. It would grow faster. More income would be reported. Taking that into consideration, it looks like an across-the-board rate of 10 percent is all we would need to replace the personal and corporate income taxes we are now paying. As Dick Armey used to say, most of us could fill out our tax returns on a post card!
Ah, but we're not done yet. There is the not so small issue of the payroll tax, which currently stands at 15.3 percent. Although we are told that workers who pay this tax are contributing to their Social Security and Medicare benefits, in fact all the money is spent the very minute it comes in the door. If each of us were saving for our own retirement, we would need to put aside only half that much. Instead workers are paying 15.3 percent of every paycheck not for themselves, but for someone else's benefits.
Moreover, unlike the income tax, the payroll tax is actually very regressive. That's because we only pay it on the first $110,000 of income. All income above that level gets off scot free. If we integrate the income and payroll tax, we're now looking at about a 20 percent tax on all income. That's a double tithe. And we're not done yet.
There are three other things to consider.
First, as I wrote in a previous post, it's in everyone's self-interest to have a tax system that makes the economy larger, rather than smaller. When people save and invest they are benefitting the rest of us. When they consume, they are benefitting themselves. That's why it makes sense to only tax that part of people's income that they consume. Practically this means that people would pay the flat tax on all income, minus the dollars they invest.
Second, we have a huge imbalance in our federal finances and it is probably unrealistic to think that the problem can be solved without some increase in the tax burden.
Finally, there is the whole question of whether this type of reform unduly benefits the wealthy at the expense of low and moderate income families. To deal with this objection, some flat tax advocates (Dick Armey, Steve Forbes, etc.) include a generous standard deduction for everyone. Advocates of a national sales tax include a generous rebate for everyone. Sometime back, my colleague Larry Kotlikoff and I decided that this approach gives away too much money to people who don't need it (e.g., Warren Buffett) while leaving important social goals unmet.
As an alternative, we proposed a generous rebate to the bottom third of taxpayers to solve other social problems. For example, to get one-half the rebate, low-income families would have to produce proof of health insurance. This would encourage millions of people who qualify to enroll in Medicaid or in their employer's health plan. Barring that, families could apply the tax rebate to health insurance they purchase on their own. We propose making the other half contingent on proof of a pension, an IRA, a 401(k) or some other savings account.
So instead of national health insurance and more government spending on the elderly, we would use our flat-tax proposal to urge people to solve these problems on their own.
We called our proposal a "progressive flat tax." The reason: under our flat tax the rich would bear more of the tax burden than they currently do.
So where does that leave us? With a flat tax rate of about 28%. Interestingly this is the rate Ronald Reagan left us with as part of tax reform in 1988.
Juan, by Obama's standards you are a wealthy man. How much
higher should income taxes be raised for your income bracket?
Juan Williams is Fox News token black, he didn’t have to be smart to get that job, Just black.Just as they got Jerry Rivers to represent the Hispanics.
The reason the OASDI bite on income above $110,000 goes away is because there is no increase in retirement pay above the maximum, which is about $2400/month. They refuse to pay anything more even though one's contributions would be more. Additionally, there is no income limit for the other part of "payroll taxes" for Medicare.
Old Age, Survivor and Disability Insurance (OASDI) - what most people call Social Security is technically a Contribution to a 'plan' not a tax. It is 6.2% of your salary; Medicare is also defined as a contribution and is 1.45% of your salary, and there is no limit.
Both are specified in the Federal Insurance Contributions Act (FICA). So, it is speciously misleading to include them in an argument about 'taxes' merely because the media is too stupid to know the difference between insurance contributions and taxes.
It’s like the liberal response to Mitt Romney’s charitable (generous at that) donations. The only thing liberals know for sure is, that money donated could be “better” spent by the government. That’s is their criticism, I kid you not.
This is actually inaccurate for a person earning an income. That person pays social security and med, so at a minimum, they are paying just under 13%, iirc, since they've not maxed out on social security.
Should social security be a retirement fund owned by the individual? Yes, it should be.
Is it? No, not according the SCOTUS ruling it is not. The Fed is entirely within its authority to use that money for general fund purposes, and they do.
So, ANY income-earner is contribuing (even Romney) to social security and med in addition to any federal income tax.
Non income earners are now, and have forever been, a problem for societies to grapple with. Some are legitimately infirm or incapable. Others are players who game the system.
That latter group is the one that should be castigated, not those who are trying their best to earn a living and support themselves and their families in Obama's economy.
> “What if we wiped out all of these escape routes and taxed all income at one low rate? Then we would all be paying a tax rate of about 10%.”
Answer: Under the 16th Amendment, a flat tax of 10% would be amended and legislated back to the tax insanity we have today.
Under the 16th Amendment, a flat tax will never stay flat.
The United States has had many flat taxes in its history and these flat taxes have always been legislated into complex tax codes.
The only true tax reform that is in line with that conceived by the Founders is here:
IIRC, capital gains are not subject to FICA. So if you have investment “income” only, you do not pay ss and medicare.
Deep Fried Jambalaya and Fried Bacon Cinnamon roll.
Yall come down to Dallas Sept 28 - Oct 21 for the Texas State Fair.
I disagree with you on this. I believe FICA contributions are counted as revenues in Federal budget accounting, either directly or as "loans" to the general treasury. If I remember correctly, this practice began in the late 1960s in order to mask the enormous cost of the Vietnam War. This means FICA "insurance contributions" are really no different than taxes.
What I've specified are the facts according to the FICA law. The practice of diverting insurance payments meant for the insurance fund to use as general revenue is actually stealing by Congress. It does not make it legal.
Every time we as citizens accept this ignored stealing by calling these stolen payments "taxes" we diminish the argument of 1/2 of us not paying income taxes, and we add further constructive approval of the process.
Our GOVERNMENT lies to us and steals from us. On the one hand we are supposed to contribute insurance payments to a mythical ether called a "lock box" and on the other they take the money for general use before it is even put in the "lock box".
Further allowing them to confuse us with calling the payments 'taxes' of some sort just hides the fact they allow 1/2 of the people in this country to pay no "taxes."
Exodus 30:11 Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying: 12 When you take the census of the children of Israel for their number, then every man shall give a ransom for himself to the Lord, when you number them, that there may be no plague among them when you number them. 13 This is what everyone among those who are numbered shall give: half a shekel according to the shekel of the sanctuary (a shekel is twenty gerahs). The half-shekel shall be an offering to the Lord. 14 Everyone included among those who are numbered, from twenty years old and above, shall give an offering to the Lord. 15 The rich shall not give more and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when you give an offering to the Lord, to make atonement for yourselves.
I say that any tax that charges some more than others is too progressive. Everybody should pay the same amount, not just the same rate.
Seriously, though, this should be the middle point between progressive and regressive taxation. Any tax scheme that takes more from some than others is progressive. A flat tax is a regressive tax.
Last line should be: A flat tax is a PROGRESSIVE tax.