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Apr 15 2006

Death and Taxes

401-taxes.jpgIt's that time of year again, April 15th...tax day. I'm old-school when it comes to taxes...pen, paper and my trusty HP-15c. If taxes are so complicated that people have to have someone else prepare them or rely on a computer, might that be a sign that the system is horribly broken?

Some facts about taxes:

* Individuals, businesses, and non-profits spent a total of 6 billion hours to comply with the tax code last year costing a total of $265 billion. In other words, for every dollar the government collected, it cost Americans an extra 22 cents in compliance costs.

* Members of Congress including those on the Joint Committee on Taxation do not due do their own taxes because it's too hard.

* H&R Block, maker of the TaxCut software, couldn't even figure its own taxes correctly last year.

* Tax Freedom Day this year is April 26 which means that all the money you earn from January 1 to April 25 goes just to pay your taxes.

The system is broke. It's time to fix it and the FairTax just might be the answer. The FairTax proponents claim their plan:

402-fair-tax-book.jpg* Abolishes the IRS
* Closes all tax loopholes and brings fairness to taxation
* Maintains our current Social Security and Medicare benefits
* Brings transparency and accountability to tax policy
* Allows American products to compete fairly
* Reimburses the tax on purchases of basic necessities
* Enables retirees to keep their entire pension
* Enables workers to keep their entire paycheck

For now, if it were up to me, I'd require the following reforms:

* I'd pass a law making election day April 15th.

* I'd pass a law requiring all members of congress to do their own taxes, that all their tax returns be audited and that they be subject to penalties and interest for miscalculations just like everyone else.

* It's a myth that your employer pays any portion of your taxes. They don't pay half of your FICA (Social security and Medicare taxes), it's all part of the cost of employing you along with your salary. I'd pass a law getting rid of this lie. It wouldn't affect anything except to change the name of some accounting entries, but it's one small step in the right direction to telling the truth about taxes. After passage you'd see your salary increase as well as your FICA tax from 7.65% to 15.3% which would result in the same take home pay. But, at least, your pay stub would now accurately reflect the taxes you are paying.

* I'd pass a law that in order to get your refund back, you'd have to write a pretend check for the amount of all the taxes you have given the government over the past year along with a handwritten statement, "I gave the government an interest free loan." Every year I hear: "Yeah, I'm getting a refund." All I hear is: "I'm an idiot, I just gave someone an interest free loan!" No one would ever give a bank $100 a month, January through December, followed by the bank giving them $1,200 the following April but they get all excited when they get $1,200 back from the government. It's the same thing!

One last thing. According to the latest data available from the IRS:

The top 1% of wage earners pays 34.3% of all income taxes.
The top 5% of wage earners pays 54.4% of all income taxes.
The top 10% of wage earners pays 65.8% of all income taxes.
The top 25% of wage earners pays 88.9% of all income taxes.
The top 50% of wage earners pays 96.5% of all income taxes.
The bottom 50% of wage earners pays 3.5% of all income taxes.

The top 1% is paying nearly 10 times as much as all of the bottom half!


Death and taxes...at least one brings eternal peace.

Posted by Don |


  1. #1
    Dave said on April 19, 2006 | Reply

    I was actually with you until you trotted out the percentages at the end, which are meaningless without a key point of data: how much do the top 1% of wage earners MAKE? How much do the bottom 50% MAKE?

  2. #2
    spurwing plover said on April 30, 2006 | Reply

    Yeah that time of year when they bleed us so the politicians can have their money for their pork projects its never ending

  3. #3
    Don said on May 1, 2006 | Reply

    Again, from the IRS, the top percentage of wage earners' share of total income and share of all income taxes paid are as follows:

    Top 1%, share of income is 16.8% but pay 34.3 of all income taxes.
    Top 5%, share of income is 31.2% but pay 54.4% of all income taxes.
    Top 10%, share of income is 42.4% but pay 65.8% of all income taxes.
    Top 25%, share of income is 64.9% but pay 88.9% of all income taxes.
    Top 50%, share of income is 86.0% but pay 96.5% of all income taxes.

    I'd say that people are shouldering the burden of income taxes far in excess of their respective percentage of all income earned. And, lest, anyone think that it is only millionaires that are getting stiffed by outrageous taxes:

    Top 1% of wage earners begins at $295,495/year.
    Top 5% of wage earners begins at $130,080/year.
    Top 10% of wage earners begins at $94,891/year.
    Top 25% of wage earners begins at $57,343/year.
    Top 50% of wage earners begins at $29,019/year.

    It's interesting that the IRS data doesn't really tell you what the bottom half is doing. This CBO report, however, tells a little about the five income quintiles:

    0-20% income quintile actually milks the system for 2%.
    20-40% income quintile pays less than 1% of all income tax.
    40-60% income quintile pays between 5-6% of all income tax.
    60-80% income quintile pays between 14-15% of all income tax.
    80-100% income quintile pays between 80-82% of all income tax.

    Overall, I'd say we are just about to the point where our democracy (actually a republic) will fail:

    A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship. - Alexander Fraser Tytler

  4. #4
    spurwing plover said on June 25, 2006 | Reply

    On the BEVERLY HILLBILLIES they called it the INFERNAL REVANUE SERVICE and in the colonial days these revenuers were tarred and feathered

  5. #5
    Derek said on July 10, 2006 | Reply

    I would guess that the earnings of the top 1% are more that 34.3% of all earnings... furthermore, of federal outlay, which is what you're reading from IRS and CBO data, the spending is primarily in favor of property owners, business owners, and investors, viz. catastrophe insurance, MILITARY (securing oil supply), negotiating and enforcing trade agreements, policing customs, and the like.

    Meanwhile, these capitalists (a capitalist is not a worker, but an investor, generally adding no value to society other than profiting from usurous loans) import illegal or legal workers to our society to drive down the wages of workers and increase dividends for the capitalists.

  6. #6
    Don said on July 11, 2006 | Reply


    "I would guess that the earnings of the top 1% are more that 34.3% of all earnings"

    You would guess wrong. As already shown above from the IRS's own statistics, the top 1% only earn 16.8% of the income while paying 34.3% of income taxes.

    "furthermore, of federal outlay...the spending is primarily in favor of property owners, business owners, and investors, viz. catastrophe insurance, MILITARY (securing oil supply), negotiating and enforcing trade agreements, policing customs, and the like."

    What is your alternative. Divide the income by the population and distribute equally to everyone? Or, comrade, how about we just distribute to everyone according to their needs? Everyone needs infrastructure, utilities and the defense of this nation equally. No greater benefit is bestowed upon the wealthy man by defending this nation than is bestowed on the poorest. You or, at least many who spew similar propaganda like you, try and stir up class warfare arguing that only the rich benefit are all full of crap.

    Further, instead of looking at the spending being on the wealthy, look at it as being spent to make it easier for one to become wealthy. There is no nation in which it is easier to go from having nothing to being rich beyond one's wildest dreams. The spending on the infrastructure and on keeping the peace is both to keep the wealthy happy and to facilitate the poor to become wealthy! Quit reading the commie propaganda and enjoy the incredible unmatched opportunities that this nation offers to achieve one's dreams.

    As to spending on "catastrophe insurance," I'm all in favor of leaving someone who chose not to purchase insurance and loses everything destitute...but some liberal always steps in and demands that he receive a government handout. I see two families earning the exact same amount of money. One uses a portion of their income to purchase insurance for many hundreds of dollars a month. The other family uses that money to buy a bigger house and pay hundreds of dollars a month in additional mortgage payments. Hey, more power to them. This nation is about taking risks and enjoying the rewards. Most often they go about their lives, one in their small home and the other enjoying their larger home.

    When a storm comes through and wipes out both houses. The family with insurance rebuilds and goes about their life. The family without insurance...should fully reap the consequences of their actions and move into a cramped crappy apartment. Unfortunately, all too often the government steps in and relieves them of the consequences of their voluntary choices. This screws up everything. All the wrong incentives are put in place and all the efficiencies of the market are screwed up, everything long terms is screwed up just so some people can feel compassionate about doing what they think is the right thing is the short term (pretty much the problem with every screwed up government program). People wind up moving to places they shouldn't, not buying insurance they need, and all the problems just grow larger in the future. So, perhaps we agree on some aspect of this one, but I doubt you've thought the matter fully through or are prepared to act upon you opinions when a family comes to you/the government after losing everything. Me...I'd hand them a brochure to the nearest apartment complex while using them in a national ad campaign about insurance and the real cost of home ownership.

    "Meanwhile, these capitalists (a capitalist is not a worker, but an investor, generally adding no value to society other than profiting from usurous loans)"

    Ohhh...the evil investors. Seriously, put down the Communist Manifesto(1) and pick up the Wealth of Nations(2). Without investors, businesses would not be able to expand and in most cases even start. Investors play a vital role in efficiently distributing capital from one place to another...far far far better than any government bureaucrat could ever do even a Commie's wet dream. Investors are at the heart of the free enterprise engine of creating jobs, building an economy and increasing the standard of living for everyone.

    And, if you think their loans are so usurious for the risk they are taking, then gather together your like-minded friends, pool all your money, and start a business lending at lower rates. If...if...the evil investors are really lending at rates disproportionate to the risk they are taking, you will have a competitive advantage and will make endless millions. That is what is great about this country and our economic system...if you have a better way of doing something, you can do it and be successful. And, your success can be obtained more easily and with greater rewards than in any other nation in the world, or in the history of the world.

    "import illegal or legal workers to our society to drive down the wages of workers and increase dividends for the capitalists."

    We may be in agreement on this one. Build a wall, police it, end the supply of drugs, illegal immigrants, terrorists, criminals, etc. I'm all for it. Combine it with a biometric identification guest worker program and everyone wins...well, except politicians who count on the votes of illegal immigrants and their supporters.

    (1) Manifesto of the Communist Party - Karl Marx and Frederick Engels
    (2) An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations - Adam Smith

  7. #7
    Big Stick replied to spurwing plover on December 14, 2008 | Reply

    They didn't have a tax on income, revenue services or even the Federal Reserve until 1913...

    On that note, it actually makes you wonder where this crazy idea of taxing the population to "fund goods and services provided by the government" came from.

  8. #8
    Don replied to Big Stick on December 15, 2008 | Reply

    I think it came from politicians' insatiable quest for power. More accurately, it primarily came from misguided liberals who thought they knew best how to spend other people's money, that government is the solutions to all problems and the failure to realize the long-term harm caused by short-term bandaids (e.g., most welfare programs).

  9. #9
    Chloe said on March 3, 2009 | Reply

    "Members of Congress including those on the Joint Committee on Taxation do not due their own taxes because it's too hard"

    Shouldn't you say "do not DO their own taxes"? Gee, homonyms are difficult...


  10. #10
    Don replied to Chloe on March 3, 2009 | Reply

    Yes, it should say "do."

    Know, homonyms are knot hard...proof reading your own righting is hard when yew allocate two little thyme too blogging.

    Thanks for caring.

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The Taxman Cometh from Watcher of Weasels

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