66 responses

  1. Timothy Kincaid
    April 18, 2012

    Priya Lynn,

    To the best of my knowledge, everyone agrees that 5% of $6,000 is far far more costly than 5% of $600,000.

    Forgive me, but I have to point out that in this you and I both agree with the principle found in a story in the Bible.

    Jesus and his disciples observed some people giving to the treasury. Some came with grand gifts but one widow woman quietly dropped in two mites (a few cents). Jesus pointed her out to his disciples and said that she gave far more than anyone else – she gave all she had.

    But as for your numbers…. well, let’s just say that you hold anti-gay activists to a stricter standard than you do progressive activists.

    I’m sure Warren Buffet pays less in taxes than he should. But let’s not pretend that his “secretary” makes $50K.

    And that’s kinda why it irks me when he uses that example. Because her title sounds like a lower paid employee it skews perception. If he said, “my chief financial planner” pays more, no one would flinch.

    But “secretary” sounds like a $25 – $50K job and there’s no way that’s what he pays her. An executive secretary to a billionaire makes more than you and I will ever dream of making combined.

    And yes I am under the impression that rich people typically pay a higher tax rate than relatively poor people. All of the statistics I’ve seen (including those presented by ZRA) suggest that this is the case. (The top 1% pay less of a rate than the next 19%, but still more than the bottom 80%)

  2. Timothy Kincaid
    April 18, 2012

    And, by the way, the issue isn’t incremental income taxes. It’s capital gains tax which means that a gain on buying and selling stock is taxed at a lower rate than earned income.

    But tax law skews the impression it gives.

    If in 2009 Suzy earns 200K in income and 100K in good stock investment, she’s taxed on $200K income tax and $100K capital gains tax (15%). And she shows up in the stats as a $300K earner.

    If in 2010 Suzy earns $200K in income and loses $100K in bad stock investments, she doesn’t get to take all that loss. Instead she is limited to $3,000 loss and is taxed on 197K income tax. She shows up this year in as a lower earner.

    Over the two years, Suzy was taxed on her wages at her income tax rate, but paid taxes of about $15,000 on a net of nothing. Over time she’ll recap that loss (at $3K per year) but the tax statistics reporting doesn’t reflect reality. And those top 400 are almost never the same year to year so their fluctuation makes it difficult to judge what they really are being taxed year to year.

    Most of the uber-wealthy have capital rather than earned income. The Warren Buffet rule would be unnecessary if capital taxes were the same rate as income taxes. But then little old ladies in lower tax brackets who live on their dividends would pay higher taxes. And we can’t have that, can we? They’re little. And old.

  3. Timothy Kincaid
    April 18, 2012

    Regan,

    Yep. We ran off the tracks. Forgive me, taxes have been my life for the past few months.

  4. Priya Lynn
    April 18, 2012

    No, Timothy, I don’t know that Warren Buffet’s secretary makes more than $50,000. You can assert that she does but I’m under no obligation to accept your assertion on your word alone.

    Timothy said “(The top 1% pay less of a rate than the next 19%, but still more than the bottom 80%).

    You’re wrong about that. The top 1% pay 16.6% income tax, many in the bottom 80% are paying 30% or thereabouts income tax. The bottom 20% pay 16% in total taxes, so not as high a rate as the top 1% but certainly great deal more burdensome a total than the top 1% pay. You can play games with statistics and use the lowest income earners to say the top 1% pay more taxes than the bottom 80% but that’s very misleading and would falsely encourage people to believe the top 1% pay a higher tax rate than the next 50%, a situation most people find wrong. Aproximately 70% of Americans agree that the wealthy don’t pay their fair share of taxes, you’re in the minority if you think there is a reasonable equitability in the American tax rate

    When we’re talking about fairness and equally sharing the burden those earning under $20,000 a year with children most certainly shouldn’t</i) be paying any income tax. And if we exclude the lowest income earners and look at those paying $30-50,000 a year, they are paying WAY more than their fair share and a great deal higher tax rate than the top 1%. NO way should those earning 30-50,000 a year be paying higher tax rates than the top 1% but they are.

    You glibbly say "But let’s accept it and note that it’s definitely more than the tax on a pack of gum – somewhere between $25 and $30 per month." which shows me you certainly haven't struggled much in your life. $20 or $30 a month may be nothing to you, but when you make $6000 a year its pretty significant. That you'd equate $20 or $30 with the 5 or 10 cents of tax on a package of gum shows you've lived a pretty privileged life.

    Getting back to what I asked you earlier, please acknowledge that paying 16% taxes on a yearly income of $12000 or less is a much greater burden on a person than paying 30% taxes on 1 million a year or more. Or is that too much to ask of you?

  5. Priya Lynn
    April 18, 2012

    I wrote “And if we exclude the lowest income earners and look at those paying $30-50,000 a year, they are paying WAY more than their fair share”, I meant to say “And if we exclude the lowest income earners and look at those earning $30-50,000 a year, they are paying WAY more than their fair share”. Equal isn’t always equitable. A fair sharing of the tax burden necessitates the rich paying progressively higher rates than the poor.

  6. Timothy Kincaid
    April 18, 2012

    Priya Lynn,

    Is that your argument? That the top are paying 16.6% on average but many in the bottom 80% are paying 30% or thereabouts income tax?

    I’ll tell ya what, I won’t even challenge that comparison and I’ll let you just tell yourself what you would tell me if I tried comparing the average of one group with “many” in another.

    And here’s a news flash for you: no one in the bottom 80% is paying 30% of their income in federal income taxes. No one. It isn’t mathematically possible.

    Assume that they filed as married filing separately (the highest rate) and had zero deductions, credits, or extenuating circumstances. The first 9,500 of income is tax free. The next 8,500 (total of 18,000) is taxed at 10% for a total tax of $850 (or 4.7%). Rates increase to 15, 25, 28, 33, and finally 35%.

    But due to incremental taxation, this individual would not have an incidental tax rate (the next dollar taxed) of over 30% until his salary reached $189,575 and he wouldn’t pay a 30% income tax rate until he made $368,175.

    He isn’t in the bottom 80%.

    And NO, the bottom 20% DO NOT PAY 16% IN TOTAL TAXES. That is an inflated number based on presenting taxes PAID BY OTHER PEOPLE as being taxes paid by this group.

    When anti-gays present untruthful statistics you call them a liar. What is it when you do it, Priya Lynn?

    I’m not the one playing games here. I’m not the one assigning people to “pay” taxes that they don’t pay.

    I can’t discuss your premises, Priya Lynn, or listen to the merits of your argument if you use total fabrications as your arguing points.

    You can play games with statistics and use the lowest income earners to say the top 1% pay more taxes than the bottom 80% but that’s very misleading and would falsely encourage people to believe the top 1% pay a higher tax rate than the next 50%, a situation most people find wrong.

    The top 1% DO PAY A HIGHER RATE than the next 50%. Your saying that they don’t doesn’t make it true.

    You don’t have to believe me. But surely the Congressional Budget Office knows what they are talking about.

    Look, you don’t have to believe a word I say. But do yourself a favor. Go do research. Not to hunt down some opinion which throws in the bus fare to the post office and postage to the IRS, but for the real numbers. Do it not to have the last word, but so you will know what you are talking about.

    Sometimes it is better to be factually correct than to “be right”.

  7. Timothy Kincaid
    April 18, 2012

    Priya Lynn,

    And if we exclude the lowest income earners and look at those paying $30-50,000 a year, they are paying WAY more than their fair share and a great deal higher tax rate than the top 1%. NO way should those earning 30-50,000 a year be paying higher tax rates than the top 1% but they are.

    Okay, now you get to show proof.

    Getting back to what I asked you earlier, please acknowledge that paying 16% taxes on a yearly income of $12000 or less is a much greater burden on a person than paying 30% taxes on 1 million a year or more. Or is that too much to ask of you?

    And getting back to my response,

    To the best of my knowledge, everyone agrees that 5% of $6,000 is far far more costly than 5% of $600,000.

    Forgive me, but I have to point out that in this you and I both agree with the principle found in a story in the Bible.

    Jesus and his disciples observed some people giving to the treasury. Some came with grand gifts but one widow woman quietly dropped in two mites (a few cents). Jesus pointed her out to his disciples and said that she gave far more than anyone else – she gave all she had.

    Did you not see that we agreed in principle here? Did i need to use your numbers for you to understand?

    But that’s a false comparison (I was trying agree in principle and let you off on the false premise). No one making $12,000 pays 16% in taxes. Please acknowledge that fact. Or is that too much to ask of you?

  8. Timothy Kincaid
    April 18, 2012

    You glibbly say “But let’s accept it and note that it’s definitely more than the tax on a pack of gum – somewhere between $25 and $30 per month.” which shows me you certainly haven’t struggled much in your life. $20 or $30 a month may be nothing to you, but when you make $6000 a year its pretty significant. That you’d equate $20 or $30 with the 5 or 10 cents of tax on a package of gum shows you’ve lived a pretty privileged life.

    Your absurd assertions about my life really go beyond the pale.

    I didn’t glibly say anything. I’m aware that 25-30 can be significant. For parts of my life that was VERY significant. You don’t know me, lady, and every time you make a guess about what you are sure I must be like, you get it about as wrong as is possible. (Remember when you and another commenter insisted that I must be a fair skinned, blue eyed blond? You actually argued with me about my own skin color.)

    And besides I don’t need to answer to your misplaced values. There’s no merit in struggling. There’s no nobility to poverty. One doesn’t gain insight into economic theory by doing without. Poor people are like rich people, just without money. Some are truly good, and others are selfish and careless and blinded by hate.

    So take your stupid arrogant assumptions and pack them away for someone who deserves them.

    I’ll take an apology now.

  9. Timothy Kincaid
    April 18, 2012

    According to the Tax Policy Center, a project of the Brookings Institute and the Urban League (in other words – not rightwingers):

    http://www.taxpolicycenter.org/numbers/displayatab.cfm?Docid=2972&DocTypeID=7

  10. Jim Burroway
    April 18, 2012

    My comment makes the 65th comment on this thread. I haven’t been following comments here, and thank god for that (to borrow an expression.) The first 11 comments were on topic. The fact that the12th, which derailed this entire thread, actually begins with “Off topic, but…” should have been a clue that the subject introduced was, in fact, off topic. I haven’t bothered to slog through the remaining 52 comments carefully, but a quick perusal suggests that, I think, maybe one of them actually addressed this post.

    I apologize for failing to monitor this thread.

    But I am monitoring it now.

  11. Timothy (TRiG)
    April 24, 2012

    The response reflects on a character so self-absorbed that it isn’t aware of the plight of others and so oblivious of the lives outside their experience that they make absurd assumptions.

    That, I must say, is not how I read it. I’m going to take the story at face value here, assuming that she did in fact say Let them eat cake and that she meant cake as we would understand it today.

    I don’t read that as the statement of an oblivious lady who doesn’t realise that a shortage of bread implies also a shortage of cake. I read it as a careless joke made by someone so insulated from the realities of life that she can joke about people starving.

    Perhaps I’m wrong.

    ***

    Timothy, that policy has been tried before. It didn’t work.

    TRiG.

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