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Only the little people pay taxes

It has been over three years since Warren Buffett pointed out that he pays a smaller percentage of his income in taxes than his employees. In fact, his receptionist payed almost twice the percentage he pays, even though he doesn’t even take advantage of tax shelters that are available to the rich.

It isn’t like the rich don’t appreciate this. Some of you may remember billionaire real estate baroness Leona Helmsley, who was prosecuted for fraud and tax evasion by then District Attorney Rudy Giuliani. During her trial, one of her maids famously quoted Helmsley as saying “We don’t pay taxes. The little people do.”

So it is somewhat fitting that a study of the Helmsley Building shows that the rich residents of that building also pay a far smaller percentage of their income than “the little people”. The residents averaged over a million dollars in income in 2007, and yet they paid less than 15% of this in federal taxes. On the other hand, the workers in that building — janitors and security guards — who earned on average a paltry $30,000 dollars a year, paid as much as a quarter of that in federal taxes. Can you even survive in New York City on $23,000 a year?

And it isn’t just rich individuals that are making out like bandits. Corporations are using tax loopholes to avoid paying any taxes at all.

For example, in 2009 Bank of America didn’t pay a single dollar in federal income taxes, while at the same time paying their top executives salaries as high as $30 million. Another bank, Citigroup, recently reported zero taxes owed for the third quarter of 2010.

And it isn’t just banks. Boeing hasn’t paid any federal taxes since 2008. Exxon-Mobil does pay taxes but somehow manages using offshore subsidiaries in the Caribbean to not pay any of them in the US. That’s right, no US taxes, even though in 2009 they passed Wal-mart in the Fortune 500 and paid their CEO over $29 million in salary. Likewise, General Electric paid no federal taxes in 2009, and neither did Wells Fargo.

So, given this situation, why was it so absolutely important to extend Bush’s tax cuts for the rich? We had those tax cuts for 10 years — did they help the economy? Did they trickle down and create new jobs? Is our economy booming like they promised us?

And now, we are being asked to believe that in order to balance our budget, we have to cut salaries for teachers and firefighters? Seriously? How stupid do they think we are?



  1. Alvin B. wrote:

    Apparently, we’re really effing stupid. There are still plenty of people out there buying the lie that lower taxes for the rich means somehow they’ll personally elevate out of the lower and middle classes themselves.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 6:49 am | Permalink
  2. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK- your no tax rant is alittle too simplistic. I agree with your assessment, but the corps are less to blame then our politicians. Here is an article which explains Exxon more in depth.

    I know it’s maddening, but the tax code dictates how, no matter what your desire. For instance, the IRS says I must depreciate my income properties. I don’t want to because I’d rather pay the tax now then later. However if I don’t depreciate now they will treat my assets as if I did later. End result is I must show a paper loss, which reduces my current taxes. In theory they will get the tax later when I sell (or leave as inheritance). We seem to only want to complicate the tax code more, instead of less. I think the key is to simplify both personal and business tax codes.

    Coincidiently – GE paid no tax in 2009, and now their CEO is advising the president and Geithner on economic policy.

    The info thats missing, and which I don’t believe we can get all of is how much tax revenue is collected “because” of these companies. By that I mean sales tax, income tax of employees (including the CEO’s) energy tax, etc.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 6:52 am | Permalink
  3. Jason Ray wrote:

    Well, IK, you know how stupid the average American is – keep in mind that 50% are stupider than that. At that assumes we’re talking about the median average – if it’s the mean average, it may be more than 50% 🙂

    Seriously, though, it is criminal to talk about slashing public safety and educaiotn services while allowing the richest individuals and the most profitable companies to get away without paying their fair share. I do think that the share should be fair (I don’t think we should return to the 90% tax rate for the top earners) but let’s face it, people with huge incomes and companies with huge profits can afford it.

    Obviously the Republicans think they can target the below average Americans to sell their wares, and it’s sad that they are so effective at it.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 6:53 am | Permalink
  4. C.S.Strowbridge wrote:

    “I agree with your assessment, but the corps are less to blame then our politicians.”

    And who do you think is buying the politicians?

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:45 am | Permalink
  5. ebdoug wrote:

    IK, this is not too simplistic. I’ve been doing taxes for 28 years, 7000 tax returns. Makes me sick when someone who make 12K pays Federal tax, while I with my tax breaks on dividends and 20K pay none. As all of you know, I’ve been angry for ten years now.

    The answer to the economic problems in this country is increased Federal Taxes, plain and simple. As I said on the 2010 returns taxes went down for those over 250K and up for those under.

    And why do the Bush/Cheney/Rove/Limbaugh/Bachmann/Palin/Beck try to brainwash the little people? That too is simplistic. They have no social conscience. Social conscience is called “socialism” for short. No one would be commenting on these pages if you didn’t have a social conscience. That too is simplistic.

    Wealth redistribution works. If you read books about Buffett, you realize he earned money for fun. Like people play golf or tennis or bridge. You play because you are good at it. He had no interest in actually spending it, except for his fleet of jets to get to meetings faster. There is a reason he received the “Medal of Freedom”. If you watch West Wing Week, the week of the presentations and get to the very end, you will see a very funny bit involving Buffett.

    Consisder this: Minimum wage in Red State Oklahoma is $2. Think about it.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 9:16 am | Permalink
  6. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    Those of you who are number crunchers: what ismight be the conservative plan for maintaining a 15% unemployment rate with no benefits and no increased taxes to support governmental services after they raid the SS fund? Any scenarios out there other than anarchy?

    I remember seeing a televised play in the late 60’s positing that people at age 65 would have a big birthday party and then be voluntarily carted off for euthanization. At the time, I thought it was science fiction — now I’m not so sure!

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 11:36 am | Permalink
  7. Jason Ray wrote:

    @Patricia: I don’t think conservatives want a permanent 15% unemployment rate. They would be much happier with a 1% unemployment rate and 14% more making minimum wage and paying their taxes – it would add to the economy without generating enough income to be given to Democrats 🙂

    I respect the basic conservative position that the government shouldn’t be taking “my money, generated by my labor”, and to give to someone else who isn’t working as hard. I think they are dead wrong it how they apply it, but I respect the position.

    The challenge is that basic conservative selfishness and self-interest fails to account for the fact none of us live in a vacuum. My life, and the lives of my children, ARE impacted by what is happening in the society as a whole, and if we have 20% unemployment and millions starving in the streets 9and without health care) it would be really bad for us all. Not to mention that many well-off people think “it could never happen to me” but in reality, there will always be someone higher in the food chain than you who can make even MORE money getting rid of you and replacing you with someone cheaper and more desperate.

    I have no interest in turning America into a socialist country (I don’t think it would actually work anyway) but I do think we have a shared responsibility to make a society that works and that means having a social safety net and the appropriate education, incentives, and opportunities to generate new wealth. In the end, generating NEW wealth is what keeps the ship afloat – because, as David Gerrold so aptly put it, “Entropy has us outnumbered.”

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 12:24 pm | Permalink
  8. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Jason, I agree. The other day I read a comment on a site from a conservative talking about how he put his children through private school, making a point about how he was miffed to pay taxes for public schools he doesn’t use.

    But then he went a step further to claim that he raised his children without the use of the “nanny government.” This is a claim that many conservatives buy into and it is unbelievably absurd. Did they build their own roads to drive around on? Did they personally inspect the toys and food their children use?


    – the government sucks at everything I don’t like
    – anything the government does that I like, I ignore
    – therefore, the government sucks at everything

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  9. Sammy wrote:

    @Jason, they most certainly do NOT want the other 14% making minimum wage. Everyone knows conservatives believe there should BE no minimum wage.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  10. Sammy wrote:

    @1032: summary = brilliant

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Permalink
  11. Bert wrote:

    We could simplify corporate taxes as:

    The government gets the exact same compensation as the CEO.

    I wonder how that would do?

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  12. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    For the record, I am not trying to encourage socialism, conservitism, etc., but would like to know if there is any serious (non-ideological) assessments of where the current crop of financial fixes might lead us.
    One of the great failures (i.e. unintended consequences) of liberalism was to de-emphasize personal responsibility. I cannot see, though, how the completely opposite tack can be of any use either. As you say, JR:
    “I do think we have a shared responsibility to make a society that works and that means having a social safety net and the appropriate education, incentives, and opportunities to generate new wealth.”
    As I’m thinking out loud here, perhaps the real question is: is anyone looking into the unintended consequences of current economic strategies?
    Thanks for the insights, commenters. 🙂

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Permalink
  13. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I agree with Jason. 1032 I don’t equate nanny business to the building of roads. I guess I would equate it more with personal business like telling me what I can eat or drink for instance. 1032- I do agree with you on the number of people who complain about everything.
    Sammy – I’m conservative, but not republican. Not all conservatives are evil just like not all liberals are looney. I certainly don’t want to do away with min wage.
    Patricia – who is raiding SS? I have heard of the IOU’s to SS but could never find anything to substantiate that assumption.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 2:42 pm | Permalink
  14. Name wrote:

    @Ebdoug: I do believe you need to do some further research before you post anything. Yes, Oklahoma does have a minimum wage of $2.00. If and only if you work for a company which employs less than 10 people and the total gross in sales is less than $100,000. Just a little tidbit you left out there. Think about it.

    As for your assessment about redistribution of wealth… Sure, in theory it sounds cool, very “Robin Hoodish” less the stealing (well some taxes could be considered as such). I get your money, he gets mine, everyone is equal and happy. Right.

    So when the lazy heap of a neighbor that lives a few blocks down the street who works part time (if at all), parties, doesn’t pay taxes because he is paid under the table is considered equal as you; the hard working, church going family man. You favor this? Are you in favor of your health insurance being the same as his? He pays 10 bucks you pay 40. It’s fair, it’s redistribution baby!. After all, you have a better job, work harder and earned the right (No, sorry that’s called free-market sorry). You bust your butt and he plays video games.

    I’ll make a bet with you right now. I’ll bet you that you will not go down the street, find someone who isn’t as fortunate as yourself and give them half of your paycheck. It doesn’t matter if they’ve earned it, just give it to them. If you don’t I’ll come to your house, take it from you and then give it to them (Sorry, not give. Wrong word, redistribute!).

    Still favoring redistribution now? I’m actually starting to favor it too. I want to do nothing all day, play video games, get food stamps, collect my unemployment check and send my kids to public school (aka day care) to which I don’t contribute nearly as much as the other parents. Why would I want to work hard at anything if I can be lazy and let someone else work hard and I get their money anyways? Think about it.

    Perhaps if we live in a society where everyone worked equally, earned equally and contributed equally then sure that type of system works flawlessly. However, in the dog eat dog world, the lazy ones fall and the ones who step up and do something get the cake. It’s fair, its simple and it’s honest. Hasn’t your folks ever said to you “If you want something, you need to earn it”. Redistribution spits in the face of that and says no, it’s not fair he earns more money and has a better job and a better life, so he should pay more on your behalf.

    Fairness is an even tax for everyone. Fairness is if you want the best, go out and fucking earn it. If you want insurance, buy it. You want better for you and your family, get off your ass and do something about it. If you can’t afford something, you either don’t need it or aren’t working hard enough for it. These are principles that every citizen should adhere. This creates a strong population. It creates pride and honor in people. It creates wealth. Handouts and freebies create stagnant, lazy and dependent people. Which is exactly what politicians want. Every politician. Left, Right, Liberal, Conservative, Independent it doesn’t matter. If a population becomes dependent on a system, the people will keep voting in the same idiots that initiated it, because that’s all they (politicians) want. More power, more office, more money, more, more more.

    Redistribution is fucking evil. It even goes against the very laws of nature, the strong survive and weak die. Sure it sounds rough, even mean, but if you can’t buck up and earn it you don’t deserve it. I sure as shit wouldn’t go out and ask strangers for money because “I don’t want to work as hard as you and screw you! You make tons of money, give me some! It’s not fair you have a bunch and I don’t you need to play fair”

    Think about it.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 2:54 pm | Permalink
  15. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I can’t decide if NAME is joking or not.

    “Still favoring redistribution now? I’m actually starting to favor it too. I want to do nothing all day, play video games, get food stamps, collect my unemployment check and send my kids to public school (aka day care) to which I don’t contribute nearly as much as the other parents. Why would I want to work hard at anything if I can be lazy and let someone else work hard and I get their money anyways? Think about it.”

    This is a stupid argument that is often repeated. Some rich people make similar complaints about how great poor people have it, yet I know none who have burned down their house and given everything away just to have the honor of going on welfare and living in government housing.

    In other words, if it was that great, masses of people would be making voluntary moves into squalor. They aren’t. Because it sucks.

    “Fairness is an even tax for everyone.” Our country would not survive if everyone was required to make the same tax payment. The bottom doesn’t earn enough. You are probably mistakenly talking about the flat tax because you have been trained to like it without considering it. The flat tax is not measurably more fair than a progressive tax and is still in all real senses a progressive tax. The rich still pay the lion’s share of the taxes because they earn the lion’s share of the $$$. You can’t get around the math.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Permalink
  16. ebdoug wrote:

    Name, I stay home all day, live off my dividends, don’t pay the same amount of taxes on equal income that the people who get out of bed and commute to work. Not only does the company (mostly GE and Exxon) not pay taxes but I don’t pay taxes either on the dividends and capital gain (some but not my fair share. That’s fair? You are thinking of the little man. But what about the big men like Warren Buffet who also thinks he isn’t paying his fair share.
    Nothing wrong at all in staying home all day doing nothing if it is not at the expense of others. If you want to do without that is your choice.
    Happens I paid all my own health insurance and medicines until I hit 65. 13k a year.
    Read about Larry Mellon in wikipedia and HAS. Then think of his brother who spent his whole life running around on the Watermellon, playing and spending his dividends from Gulf oil destroying the marshes in Louisiana.
    I’m doing my very small part for mankind by inviting my exclients here with a lap top to do their own return “teaching them to fish” instead of paying the big bucks at H&R Block and Liberty tax. And yes, I help those who don’t work. I take in homeless cats who find their way to my door.
    I’m a 40K person with no debt, but the 250K people voted 46% Obama knowing their taxes were going up and knowing it was good for the country. 120 billion a year extra coming into our country once Obama lets the tax cuts to the rich expire in two years. 2 billion a week to be in our false war in Iraq. Somehow we have to repay that money and get our Infrastructure back.
    And yes, the Republicans are back on their Privitize social security tact again. I heard it on the news this morning. We have the best social security of any country, the most sound. The Republicans want to steal our funds.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 3:18 pm | Permalink
  17. Name wrote:

    I’m not joking. I am quite serious. Of course it is an often repeated argument because it stays relevant. There are too many people living off the tit of other taxpayers. Of course no one chooses it, but many of those people aren’t choosing better options. It’s easy and takes little effort. Effort is going out and breaking a sweat and making things happen for yourself. No one should be given anything without having earned it. I cannot see why anyone would disagree with that.

    As for flat tax rates, you fail to forget the point of the article. The rich in this country do many clever things to write off taxes and just plain get around them. Companies do it too. Yes, flat tax is similar to progressive rates. You make 30K a year, you pay x amount, you make 300K a year, x amount. X should remain as constant as possible. The wealthy in this country pay an exorbitant on income taxes. Just this past week I myself paid almost $700 in taxes. I’m not by any means rich, but if rates were more constant, rather than my tax rate going up 3% as I earn myself into a new bracket, think what I would do with an extra $x.xx a month, say rather than 700 it was 400. I would buy stuff with it. That 300 extra is a car payment for me, health insurance and utilities, a new tv or if I save it I can refurnish my bat cave, whatever! The government gets it’s share. The economy gets it’s share. Now multiply that (lets make it $100 instead) by however many working Americans each week pumped into the economy, on top of what they would spend normally. Isn’t that what we are trying to do here? Spend more money into the economy? Buy stuff, put people to work making product? Selling goods and services? Isn’t that how you fix an economy? Spending money? (Not printing money and spending it, that makes it worse because that money doesn’t really exist now does it?)

    Also, I believe you are forgetting that the wealthy in this country are, 9 of 10 times, employers. What would you do if your company had an extra whatever amount at the end of the year? Hire someone? Buy equipment? New store? Pay off debts?

    Our country would survive. It would be fine. IF and ONLY IF the government stopped spending on programs and useless other garbage. Free needles to junkies. Yoga instructions on your parking ticket (dead serious. Where but Cambridge, MA). Brand new road signs because someone complained about the font size. Useless junk. Maybe instead of hiring an assistant for your assistant, you could send that 60K to new school equipment, hospitals, filling in potholes so our cars aren’t rattled to death going to the supermarket.

    You can get around the math. You need to cut the fat. Get rid of stuff that the government wastes money on. There are hundreds of programs which just don’t need to be. The only reason they are there is usually because someone donated something to a campaign and in turn, the whomever created a program which pays 200K a year to study carpet particles in a simulated vacuum on Jupiter left nipple or some stupid nonsense like that.

    Last but not least, you need to redefine your sense of sarcasm. Perhaps I’ll mark it next time so you know when to read it sarcastically. (read that last bit sarcastically).

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 4:02 pm | Permalink
  18. Name wrote:

    Response to EB. Of course companies are also at fault. HUGE FAULT. Allowing them to ship jobs across seas is a huge mistake. So is raising their taxes, which really made them want to do it in the first place now didn’t it? Cheap labor and tax rates in India! Lets let ALL of our customer service come from there!

    So the companies jumped ship. That’s wrong.

    You take in cats? That’s sweet of you really, but a cat’s dependence is MUCH lower than that of a humans. Try supporting some lazy bum who just doesn’t feel like working and would rather collect than do hard labor. Or the out of work Business man who collects 800 a month in welfare because working at McDonald’s is “below him”. He will wait for that other 120K job thank you very much.

    Why work for minimum wage at Burger King when welfare pays you 4 times as much?

    And as a Vet of Iraq, what’s false about it? I really don’t wish to start a huge, long, off topic about war but you’ve piqued my interest.

    Also, stop blaming bush. Yeah, he sucked, but its over with. If you ask me, obama and his administration need to grow a pair and say OK, these are the cards I’ve been dealt, I’m the new president, let’s take responsibility and fix it. Not blame everything on the previous president. Or start most speeches with “We’ve inherited this debt”. How about “We have this debt, here’s how I think we can fix it” That sounds more like a president to me. Not the blame game.

    The non-capital letters on those names are intentional.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 4:15 pm | Permalink
  19. Name wrote:

    Not to Hog the board here, but I also wanted to add in my past post EBDOUG, you don’t take wikipedia seriously all the time right? That just because it’s on the internet, doesn’t make it true?

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 4:23 pm | Permalink
  20. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Guy, the reason everyone loves (insert fantastical name) tax here is because they think it will cause them to pay less in taxes. Day 1 lesson 1 of Econ 101 is there is no free lunch. It is not possible to generate revenue by restructuring the tax code. If you are saving money on your taxes, it is because someone else is paying more. Flat tax, fair tax, unicorn tax, you name it. They are all sold to people with poor reasoning skills using faulty logic.

    The flat tax as you admit is progressive. This causes it, by nature, to be a redistribution of wealth because government services are not provided on a progressive scale. Redistribution, which you, of course, previously claimed to be evil. Actually, I quote, “fucking evil.”

    Your “poor people have it great” argument is not relevant because it is not true. You can be just as poor as they are. Just burn down your house and give everything away. Then you can wallow in luxury also. Go ahead. I dare you. Nobody does it because being poor sucks. Being rich is great. That people seriously believe the opposite is proof positive of the influence of the rich in this country.

    Those are 3 indisputable facts. I will not argue them with you anymore.

    We would be fine if we cut spending? Sure. Unfortunately the selfish-brain will not allow you to agree to cuts that affect you. “Everyone will feel the pain but me.” An ignorant motto. Additionally, you don’t need to cut taxes to cut spending. The 2 are unrelated. Enacting a tax plan which will only work if spending cuts are done, and that will cause us to shoulder even more debt if not seems rather stupid.

    Finally, let me close by saying, you don’t need a fair tax to reduce government revenue. You can simply reduce the tax rate. Unfortunately, the entire “reduce the tax rate” philosophy is a poor argument as well, because there is no accepted bottom value. It is just always “less than I am taxed right now,” inevitably ending up at 0% and a failed government.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 4:31 pm | Permalink
  21. Name wrote:

    Obviously I’m not getting anywhere with my argument. Perhaps in my haste to respond, I’m sending a mixed signal or something. I’m not saying being poor is awesome. Nowhere have I claimed such. Nor will I. I have friends who have fallen on rough times. I’m sure you do as well. I’m not saying burn all you own and live off the government. Nor will I.

    Yes, people are in these situations. Rather than getting out, it is easier for some to stay. Be it education, be it laziness or lack of will power. If you give a man a fish… you know the rest. I’ll go on to explain it though, so you understand and not retort with “being poor is awesome” or some nonsense. If you give money away to those who don’t earn it, they will want more. Why would they work for it (money) if the government is giving it away? Yes, you and your employer pay into welfare (only whilst you are working though) and some of that IS yours. But when people stay on welfare, what you’ve paid in is now gone. Now you are taking money from other people. That is a no no.


    Government Services can be one of two things. Needed or not. Military is needed. FDA, needed. Random programs designed to give a friend of some politician a job, not needed. There are plenty of programs like this that should not be. I can’t be clearer on that point. If you take a calculator and punch in the number these programs cost followed by a + sign and do it for every program that is unnecessary and a waste of tax money you get a BIG number. Try it, its fun.

    As for tax cuts. They have to be fair. Of course. Where in my previous post did I say everyone else but me? And yes cutting taxes and spending are different. That’s why we must do both. Cut taxes, spend less. Much like when you were in college and you lived off a VERY tight budget. You bought what you needed (at the best price you can find) and stopped buying things you don’t realllllly need right now, like new clothes or something. Anyways, your “everyone but me” argument is invalid because of one simple word I use over and over. Fair. Not he gets 10% and Sally Joe gets 15%. That’s not fair.

    Your closing paragraph is also wrong. Hate to say it, but there is a bottom rate. We should be there or even one notch above it. The government has what they need to run essential programs, the people have what they need. Everyone is getting a fair deal.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 4:58 pm | Permalink
  22. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    Then someone else wrote: “I’m actually starting to favor it too” using your screen name.

    “Why would they work for it (money) if the government is giving it away?” I’m assuming that you work for your own money so I feel confident you can answer your own question.

    “Government Services can be one of two things. Needed or not.” Needed by who? The problem when identifying government waste is that the only thing we can all agree on is that it exists. We can rarely agree on what it actually is. You claim “you can’t be clearer on that point,” but who cares about you specifically? The Republicans recently began attacking the Department of Education along with their longstanding foe the EPA. Needed? Unneeded? More absurdly, you talk about needed and unneeded programs and then complain about waste. Is your assertion that there is no waste within needed programs? Nonsense. You laughably give a free pass to the military which is likely the largest target for spending and waste out there. But I wouldn’t expect anything different.

    You keep bringing up fair, but fair is subjective. If the progressive tax system we currently have is unfair because it is progressive, then the flat tax is unfair because it is also progressive. You say it is unfair that he gets 10% and Sally Joe gets 15%. If I charged the guy in front of you $1000 for a TV and then charged you $5000 for the same TV, would you think that was fair? Of course not. But hold on, I just charged you a percentage of your income! So it must be fair. Right? Seriously, pull off the blinders for 5 minutes and actually *think* about the tax system.

    I know it is “everyone else but you” because if the flat tax was demonstrably more fair than any other system but caused your personal taxes to quadruple, you wouldn’t be in favor of it. That is how it goes, selfish-brain. I’ve had flat tax and fair tax discussions with plenty of people, and exactly 0 of them thought it would increase their tax rate. But, it has to increase someone’s. And it will; it shifts the burden to the poor.

    Please tell me what the bottom rate is and, more importantly, how you arrived at it. I am 100% confident that you could never tell me a bottom rate that was calculated using any serious method. Prove me wrong like you say I am.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 5:36 pm | Permalink
  23. PatriotSGT wrote:

    @ Name and 1032 –
    There is truth to both your arguments. If there is no reason/desire for someone to have to change their status in life, they likely won’t. The welfare reforms in the 90’s did alot to remedy the gross abuses of the past. But, we do need a social safety net, thats what makes us civilized. The question then becomes who, what, how much and how long.

    Waste fraud and abuse (WFA) occurs in every program, dept, and orifice of government. We always hear politicians say we’ll save X dollars by trimming WFA, but we rarely hear about it again, we just add another program to the deficit. The bigger the Department, the likelihood of greater WFA. I can tell you first hand the military is penny wise and dollar foolish. They’ll charge some private $15 for a lost canteen, and then replace his perfectly good $1500 IBA (Individual Body Armor) with a newer model that cost $2500 6 months after he got the first one. Then they “dispose” of the first.

    The tax code needs to be simplified. Period. Made fair for all. I don’t know exactly what that looks like, but I know it’s not what we have now.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 6:22 pm | Permalink
  24. Name wrote:

    The “I’m starting to favor it” was me. And I was being sarcastic. I don’t favor it. The notion of doing nothing and getting money anyhow is what I was being sarcastic about.

    You are confusing goods and services with income taxes. Lets say they are 10%. If you are lower middle class and make 30K a year, 10% of 30K. If you are upper class and make 300K 10% is the same chunk of cash that it is from 30K. You are splitting your income into tenths, you get 9, government gets 1. Yes, it is a lot of money. But it is the same tax rate. A fair tax rate. If you get a raise and go from 30K to 80K, you still pay 10%. It’s a lot more money, but still the same sized chunk you were paying before.

    Ok, how about this. What is the tax rate on lower, middle and upper class? Average figures, Single Status. You can look this up real easy.

    0K-8K – 10%
    8K-34K 15%
    34K-82K 20%
    82K-170K 28%
    170K-370K 33%

    Federal Tax Brackets for 2010.

    So as you earn more, your taxable income goes up. A lot. Over 3 times as much.
    8K @ 10% = $800
    300K @ 33% = $74,000

    Using a flat tax of (sticking to 10% for simple math)
    8K @ 10% = $800
    300K @ 10% = $30,000

    Your TV example doesn’t hold water because two people aren’t paying on one income, one gets a smaller fee the other a larger fee for the same thing. You are paying a percent of *your* income. Both people are paying 10% of their taxable income to the Federal Government. Fair because they are both paying one tenth of their income. Middle and Upper classes benefit and Lower class is ultimately unaffected, but will benefit in the long run.

    If I’ve something wrong here on Federal Taxes and rates on taxable income, please point it out to me.

    Again, that 10% is just a random figure for Federal Taxes. Not including State Taxes (if you have any) Medicare or SS.

    Even if the tax brackets were lowered 10% for mid to upper class and kept that progressive rate. Not ideal, but people would be thrilled. Wouldn’t you be thrilled if you got a 10% raise this year? Because you were paying 33% and now you are paying 23%. Wouldn’t you go buy a car? Put it towards a mortgage?

    The only way this can work successfully however, is if the government learns to do with less. To do that, they need to lose programs that are wasting money. Cut back on buying new jets for the Air Force and repair the ones we have. Cut back on flying the president to vacations every 5 months in foreign countries when most citizens can’t afford a vacation of their own. Show some responsibility with their spending. Spend wisely and precisely. Like most Americans have been doing the past several years. Cutting back and spending less. I know it doesn’t scale as precisely as that in economics, but the principles are the same! If people have more to spend (less taxes) they buy stuff they need. Maybe go on a vacation. Buying stuff puts people to work. Going places puts people to work. The more people work, the more they have to spend.

    As for the bottom rate, it would be what the government needs in revenue to properly run essential services. Perhaps a buffer zone around that to eat away on some of our national debt. If the government needs 500 Billion a year to run, give it 500 Billion. If you give it more, it will use it… and not wisely as we all hope.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 6:29 pm | Permalink
  25. Josh wrote:

    Yes, you are wrong on the federal tax rate. The federal income tax has brackets. People in the 33% bracket NEVER EVER PAY 33% in income tax because of how brackets work and deductions. The top x% of people pay LESS percent wise than most people because of things like long term capital gains taxes being less % wise than income tax. The super rich get a large amount of their income from investments that are taxed at a lower rate. To back my facts you should read this,

    Your opinions are based upon falsehoods, not facts.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:15 pm | Permalink
  26. ebdoug wrote:

    There is no way someone on an 8K income can afford $800. My son with his 300K income happily pays about $125000 fEderal and state after his deductions and thinks he is overpaid at his job. (He designs and builds the computer programs we all use. He gets more income than that but worked 1/2 time in 2010.
    You are forgetting the necessities of life that the 8K is using his money for: food/lodging/clothing. He is using every penny of that 8K. He has nothing left. On the other had paying out 30K on a 300K income leaves lots left to reinvest, taking the money out of circulation.
    NAME: You did not “PAY” $700 out of your paycheck. You had $700 taken out for federal/state/social security/medicare. (retirement perhaps?) Now when you do your 2011 tax return and get a refund, that is money back from the $700 you put in. If you get a refund on your 2010 return, you can divide that by the number of paychecks you get and claim a dependent to have less taken out, getting no refund on your 2011 return.
    I hate to get refunds. Too cheap to lend the government my money interest free. I’d much rather pay in on April 15th.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:16 pm | Permalink
  27. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    OMG! PTSGT: “Raiding” SS is indeed an assumption on my part, and intended as such to present a scenario. However, the impetus to shut SS down or eliminate it has certainly been bandied around for years and might be interpreteted as a “raid.” I was hoping for some ideas — that’s what I take from this web site. Thank you EBD and 1032!

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:19 pm | Permalink
  28. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    “Your TV example doesn’t hold water because two people aren’t paying on one income, one gets a smaller fee the other a larger fee for the same thing. You are paying a percent of *your* income. Both people are paying 10% of their taxable income to the Federal Government. Fair because they are both paying one tenth of their income.”

    So in one instance it is unfair because two people are required to pay different rates for the same thing by paying a percentage of their income. And in the other instance it is fair because they are both required to pay different rates for the same thing by paying a percentage of their income.

    Solid argument.

    This no longer merits discussion.

    “As for the bottom rate, it would be what the government needs in revenue to properly run essential services.”

    That’s not a number; that is nothing. It does not exist except in your mind, if that.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:21 pm | Permalink
  29. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    EBDOUG: “You are forgetting the necessities of life that the 8K is using his money for: food/lodging/clothing.”

    Exactly! It is very telling of us as a society that we are furious that someone struggling to feed their family won’t give money that someone who is deciding whether or not to buy their 4th helicopter makes 1/8th of a second after they wake up.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:29 pm | Permalink
  30. Name wrote:

    @ Josh: I know that the rich almost never actually pay what they are “supposed” to pay. That’s why they are rich. There are loopholes and methods for getting tax breaks which aren’t as available to 90% of the rest of Americans. The figures I put on the post are roundabout figures. Nothing is ever as cut and dry as that. My question was going out not to deductions and write offs, but the basic principle which is tax brackets and what someone would be paying (Yes PAYING EBDOUG, anything coming out of my paycheck I consider paying, because it’s not going towards other bills or goods or anything else I purchase).

    Also to 1032: I believe you need to take an English class once again. I don’t know how you are confusing what I’ve written up there, but you are incorrect about your TV analogy. *Think* about it, buying a TV and tax brackets aren’t even close to being similar and charges on the two are not even the same sport, let alone ballpark. You aren’t buying a TV based on your income. You ARE however, paying taxes based on your income. More you make, more you pay. That would also be true for flat taxes, tax raises, cuts and any other alteration the government can make to taxes. More you make, more you pay. TV costs what a TV costs, it was and remains a terrible analogy.

    As for the bottom rate, yes, it is a number you dolt. I don’t know what that number is, but it can be calculated and it sure as hell isn’t “nothing”. Let’s see, what does the government need to run? x amount of dollars, so the taxpayers need split x amount and whatever tax rate it takes to get X amount is the bottom rate for tax payers.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:52 pm | Permalink
  31. Name wrote:

    Also to EBDOUG: The tax bracket for someone who makes less than $8,000 per year is 10%. Look it up. The Federal Government doesn’t give two hoots about your lodging, food and clothing, they want their 10%. If you disagree with that, try not paying your taxes next year and you will find out how much they don’t care. 800 dollars is tough when you only make 8,000. That’s why they call it being poor.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 7:59 pm | Permalink
  32. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    I’m quite aware that no store (or at least none that I’ve heard of) charges you for goods based on percentages of your income. If that is your problem with the analogy, then I’d suggest that my reading comprehension didn’t bring us to this impasse.

    The imaginary number you speak of can’t be calculated, which is why you can’t produce it. More accurately, it is why no one can produce it.

    I could say that we have this number right now: it is whatever tax money was collected last year. You would no doubt argue that it is too much because it involves waste. Whenever we hit your imaginary number, you would consider the case closed. However, I could continue to make your argument…that it is too much because it involves waste. It will always involve waste because a government is a real world entity, not a math equation.

    This is a race to the bottom: 0%. It is based on theoretical imaginings of people who ironically generally feel like they have the most bestest facts ever.

    At this point I feel that I have sufficiently explained all my positions and why you’ve arrived at yours incorrectly. Good day sir.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 8:56 pm | Permalink
  33. Iron Knee wrote:

    I am laughing my ass off here. Oh, those evil poor people who sit at home all day long playing video games and spending your hard earned money.

    Sometimes I think the rich and greedy of our society are just projecting. The reason they worry about the poor sitting at home playing video games is because that’s what they do all day long!

    I remember back many years ago when the conservatives were screaming about just this (as they always do) and they did a big study of medicare fraud, and lo and behold the biggest amount of fraud against medicare was being done by doctors and insurance companies, not by any poor folk.

    I’m just saying.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 8:57 pm | Permalink
  34. TENTHIRTYTWO wrote:

    IK: that’s because after living on the taxpayer’s teat for so many years, they could easily afford to turn off their plasma TV, hop in their Ferrari and go to medical school and/or receive a degree to work for an insurance company.

    The poor have infiltrated all levels of our society! 🙂

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 9:03 pm | Permalink
  35. ebdoug wrote:

    NAME: Wrong again. The person earning 8K has a personal exemption, a standard deduction and if between 23 and 65 gets earned income credit for going to work and not being a drain on society. Pays no Federal tax and gets a Federal refund on that 8K of $816 in earned income credit after paying out $612 in social security and medicare. So we actually reward people to work. He didn’t quite lose 10% to his future retirement, but we paid him back to work. Gosh that’s so unfair under your system. Imagine being paid to get off the dole and getting a job.

    Monday, February 28, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Permalink
  36. Name wrote:

    Oh for Fucks sake. Ok ALL I’m saying, cut taxes, cut spending. That is all. I tried using a few hypothetical examples, but everyone is hellbent on taking them way to literally and or misinterpreting them to.

    You really argue against less government and government intervention and more money in the people’s pocket? That all I’m trying to say. Damn, people.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 12:56 am | Permalink
  37. Iron Knee wrote:

    You don’t get it, do you Name? If you really want “less government and government intervention” then you should move to Somalia, where there is no government and no government intervention.

    Otherwise, the only rational conclusion is that there needs to be a balance. We need some government, but how much? What is the proper role of government? What things are the things that the government can and should do?

    Spouting platitudes of “government is the problem” make for good sound bites, but in the end you just end up playing the fool and being a tool (like the tea party) for special interests and the powerful.

    That’s all I’m trying to say. Damn indeed. Don’t you ever grow tired of being manipulated by Fox News?

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 9:58 am | Permalink
  38. Patricia Andrews wrote:

    IK — I see lots of comments oon newsfeeds from such as NAME — long on sound bites and short on logic. You should be very proud that they send the intellectual heavy hitters like NAME to this site and this comment is intended to be “condemnation by faint praise” for the likes of NAME!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 12:26 pm | Permalink
  39. PatriotSGT wrote:

    IK your comment in #37
    “Otherwise, the only rational conclusion is that there needs to be a balance. We need some government, but how much? What is the proper role of government? What things are the things that the government can and should do?”

    is the most sensible thing I’ve read in this whole thread from either side. Just a little critique; thats how we need to start the conversations, not finish them. If we open up saying we understand the problem and opinions of both sides then both sides (like our politicians) won’t get stuck on stupid and mired in the hard to negotiate details. REading this thread is like watching an inmovable object collide with an unstoppable force, nothing good can come from it, except increased aspirin sales.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 3:35 pm | Permalink
  40. ebdoug wrote:

    PatriotSGT: You have often said that each person needs to pay $10 to the government. After I wrote the post on the 8K person, I realized each working person does. Social security and Medicare. That $612 the person paid in. Now not every one lives to collect on that money. Also those that do are staying off welfare in their aged life and living off SS they contributed. Usually get back considerable more than they put in.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 4:59 pm | Permalink
  41. PatriotSGT wrote:

    You are correct Ebdoug and I agree, thanks for bringing that up. Total tax (SS, MC, Income st&fed, Property) is often not calculated in the equation to raise/lower taxes. My “total” tax bill is close to 30k year of which I get about 6k back. This of course does not include all the use taxes like gas, non-food, local environmental, regulatory (ie registrations, phone and cable taxes). If I add all those it probably goes up by another 3-5k. I claim married and 1 on my pay, but have 6 total dependants including my wife and I and our AGI is well below 100k.

    Now one part of your assessment may need adjusting, if you take their total tax bill and compare it to the refund sometimes (not likely with single people) they may get more refund then they paid in. Which means they are getting a refund of part/all of the SS or MC contribution. In your experience, is my analysis off, have you seen that scenario?

    As to the collectors of SS benefits, they do get more then they pay in and thats part of the problem with SS solvency. Originally, there was like 30people paying in to every 1 receiving benefits. Those numbers have been getting closer as the years go by and (if i’m not mistaken) by 2030 the ratio will be 3 to 1. At that point it will be unsustainable. Extending the retirement age will stretch the sustainability to about 2050, but the same problem will occur again. There needs to be another fix, whether its increasing SS tax and disallowing refunds that would refund part/all of the SS or some other plan. I’m not an accountant or finance whiz, just using my common sense and business approach. Unfortunately, our politicians are likely to kick the can down the road for another 20 years.

    Wow, sorry that was a long response. 🙂

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 7:35 pm | Permalink
  42. vegas wrote:

    @NAME, What’s all this junk about people on welfare laying around and earning more than minimum wage? That is such a huge, glaring falsehood I’m surprised you were even able to type it properly. First of all, you can’t even get welfare if you don’t have kids. There are other programs of course, for the disabled or sick. Those on welfare are not allowed to be on it indefinitely, there is a cut-off. This is what a young, single working mom is eligible for… food stamps, health care (sub-par care at best) and daycare vouchers for your working hours. Working part time (because there is nothing else available (remember it needs to be on the busline) for minimum wage she nets about $600 a month. That’s to cover rent, diapers, clothes, school fees, household and toiletry items, transportation fees etc for her and her child.
    HOO BOY, that’s livin’ large.

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 8:53 pm | Permalink
  43. Effisland wrote:

    Can I just say, I love this site?! This thread too, as much as I can feel the heatwaves of passion emanating from my screen.

    For what its worth, my 2 cents. I’m Canadian (reminder) and I recall on visiting the states as a child and marvelling on how everything was so cheaper than in Canada. Why was this?, I asked. They pay less taxes, was the reply. Hmm.

    Coming from a country Pat Robertson once called Soviet Canuckistan (and not in a nice way)I feel somewhat of an authority on socialism as it is our nome de plume as it were. After crossing the indiscernible US/Canada border back into Canada it is quite obvious that alas, we too have ‘social’ problems here too. People live in poverty, there are homeless (the term is used so often it often elicits little notice) and egad, lazy people do exist! Fortunately we do not own many guns, otherwise these lazy people would be summarily shot.

    I guess my only point would be that if you guys down there would start taxing goods and services a bit more then you would be forced to raised the minimum wage (I think it should at least be more than the Indian minimum wage if you insist on referring to your country as ‘home of the free’ – unless you really did mean that, in terms of proving free labour to companies with less than 100 employees, as if that makes a difference – and as much as I think about it I still can’t understand what about that wage makes any sense.

    In fact, in BC (British Columbia, north of Washington, which is north of California…) they have recently introduced the Harmonized Sales Tax, which integrated federal and provincial taxes for all goods and services 12% added onto everything. I’m sure there are exemptions for things, like childrens clothing etc and other socially reprehensible items. Taxes on cigarettes and alcohol and gasoline are as high as they ever were – which is also why we like coming across the border on what is colloquially referred to as a ‘booze run’ to buy back our Canadian whiskey for 1/3 of the price (and they lie about it so we don’t pay duty).

    I hope you guys get your shit together because all this infighting and bickering and slow disintegration of the fabric of your society is quite sad.

    For the record, roads might be considered a ‘social good’. So unless your car is currently on blocks you might want to reconsider the whole ‘socialism’ thing. Just a thought, you don’t need to think about it!!

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 10:44 pm | Permalink
  44. BTN wrote:

    Sorry, NAME, but I’m jumping on the bandwagon.

    “Ok ALL I’m saying, cut taxes, cut spending.” This is NOT what you are saying. The whole arguement has to do with WHOSE taxes are cut and WHICH spending gets cut.

    Also, what EBDOUG was repetedly saying is that “fair” is ill-defined and relative.

    Person A
    Lives alone in a house. Has a well, but no sewer system. No job.

    Person B
    Single parent, has 4 kids in school. Takes the bus to work.

    Who uses more governement resources? Who should pay more tax?

    Does it change if Person A owns a company and pulls $500k in income while Person B earns $30k?

    Is it fair that Person A’s asset’s increase in value along with inflation while Person B has no assets and just pays more for gas and food? Doesn’t inflation just act as a regressive tax? If so, shouldn’t the rich pay a higher percentage to balance that out?

    Tuesday, March 1, 2011 at 11:55 pm | Permalink
  45. Spike wrote:

    Name, just wondering what God had to do with all of this. Unless of course you are refering to the huge tax breaks organised religion is afforded, and good luck to them. Then again it could be all the good social work they do that the government now expects of them so they don’t have to pay for it themselves. And just quietly, fear is not a good state of mind to be living in

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 7:28 am | Permalink
  46. RK wrote:


    ” in BC (British Columbia, north of Washington, which is north of California”

    Hey! You forgot OREGON!!
    We count, too, you know!

    Wednesday, March 2, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Permalink
  47. Name wrote:


    I love how you make assumptions on programing I watch and protesters to whom I subscribe. What is the basis on your conclusion exactly?

    You don’t have one, you made an assumption. Which makes you an ass.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 9:09 am | Permalink
  48. Sammy wrote:

    The basis for IK’s assumption was that your argument was coincidentally the same that 98% of Fox commentators and “news”casters spout. Easy conclusion to jump to.

    By the way, I have never seen IK NOT admit an error when he’s been called on one…which most certainly makes him NOT an ass.

    Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 11:20 am | Permalink
  49. Iron Knee wrote:

    LOL Name. I never said you watched Fox News. You don’t have to watch it in order to be manipulated by it.

    Even progressives who would never be caught dead watching Fox News allow their dialog to be framed by right-wing talking points coming from Fox. For example, the whole deficit thing. Now, I happen to agree that the deficit is a problem, but it is not the only problem. And where was the Tea Party when the Republicans were spending money like drunken sailors on stupid wars and Medicare Part D? Why aren’t they screaming about billions of dollars in subsidies to big oil companies that the oil companies even say they don’t need? Every single member of the Congressional Tea Party caucus just voted to continue those subsidies; shouldn’t Fox News be making a big deal out of this? I mean, if you actually want to reduce the deficit, wouldn’t that be a great place to start?

    I also find it hilarious that you didn’t actually deny that you watch Fox News (even though I didn’t actually accuse you of watching it). So it looks like it is you who is making assumptions!

    Thursday, March 3, 2011 at 12:41 pm | Permalink
  50. ALVIS JENKINS wrote:

    Ignorant people pay income taxes! That’s right, ignorant people who have never took it upon themselves to read the law and understand that the income tax does not exist. Subtitle A of Title 26 U.S.C. provides NO LIABILITY for the tax. You must be liable to owe the tax. That means that No ONE owes this tax, not even the President of the U.S. or even a foreigner working in the USA. Bt if you love giving your hard earned federal reserve notes away to the IRS, then continue in ignorance and deprive yourself of what rigtfully belongs to you. April 15th is the new April Fools Day.

    Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 9:38 am | Permalink
  51. Iron Knee wrote:

    Sorry Alvis, you are misinformed. See

    Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 10:19 am | Permalink
  52. ALVIS JENKINS wrote:

    Income tax evasion is non existant. However under color of law the IRS works to make you believe otherwise. All federal indictments of anyone who has failed to pay income taxes they do not owe, is criminal on the part of the IRS along with the DOJ. When federal judges tell the accused in federal court, that he/she is the law and that you had better not bring up the Constitution as a defense, you can know who is the real criminals. However in the first place the federal indictment is false because a private citizen not engaged in a trade or business with the United States has not committed a federal crime in a federal revenue district. Thus the federal indictment has no subject matter jurisdiction over the private citizen. The federal courts preside with statutory law and the Constitution has no effect. Only Article III Courts prevail with the Constitution as the controlling law.
    Knowledge is power!

    Sunday, March 13, 2011 at 10:31 am | Permalink
  53. Bonnie wrote:

    You know, I never believed that story of the maid.

    Just because the maid claimed her boss said, “only the little people pay taxes” doesn’t mean Helmsley said it.

    I think they all disliked her and were ready to vilify Hemsley, because she was a strict boss and wanted things her way…as was her right.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 6:25 pm | Permalink
  54. Iron Knee wrote:

    Unfortunately, wanting things her own way included wanting to not pay income taxes — she was convicted of federal income tax evasion, and other crimes. That was not her right.

    That she was mean is beyond dispute. She died with almost no friends and estranged from her family. She left her dog a $12 million trust fund.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 6:37 pm | Permalink
  55. JOHN wrote:

    um Exxon paid 10 billion in taxes to the US, and GE who has government pals paid nothing. So I think his facts are off, but even if they are not, the soulution is obvious make everyone pay taxes, a national sales tax, or an income flat tax. And go pick up an economics book, captialism lite (what we have in the US) has a GDP of 8 to 12 trillion, what is the GDP of major socialist countries combine those and stop adding countrys when you get a simular population, you know per capita GDP.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 9:18 pm | Permalink
  56. wally wrote:

    Get real, the tax codes are written to permit individuals and corporations the right to deduct losses and expenses on their taxes. Individuals are allowed deductions for medical,contributions and state taxes etc. Likewise, corporations are allowed to deduct losses and taxes to foreign governments. Exxon Mobil had deductions since they paid Nigeria a large corporate tax of approximately 47% on their profits. Note that the Nigeria tax rate of 47% is larger than what Exxon would pay under most U.S. rates. Why not allow drilling in the U.S. and collect those taxes for the U.S. rather than to Nigeria? Is it because the liberals and environmentalist don’t allow drilling? If you do not want corporations to get deductions, you should get on the band wagon and vote to repeal the existing tax code and replace it with the flat tax or something similar.

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 9:41 pm | Permalink
  57. WhereAreThey? wrote:

    I miss smart conservatives like Patriot. 🙁

    Thursday, June 9, 2011 at 9:51 pm | Permalink

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