I Just Love Taxes!

Behold, the fruits of a decade of semi-annual tax cuts and around 22 years of swiss-cheesing the tax code. A ten-point majority of Americans say their taxes are too high, slightly more than believed that two years ago. But:

For all of the public's current dissatisfaction with the economy, with the direction of the United States, and with its leadership, Americans are fairly content with their federal tax obligation. According to Gallup's 2008 Economy and Personal Finance survey, conducted in April, 60% regard the amount of income tax they have to pay this year as "fair." Only 35% say it's not fair.

Additionally, more Americans believe "middle-income people"—a group most people are likely to associate themselves with—pay their "fair share" in federal taxes rather than "too much." By contrast, 51% believe lower-income Americans pay too much, while 63% believe upper-income people pay too little.

It's like I wrote back in March: The salience of the tax issue at the federal level is slumping. Americans are still irritated by taxes at the state level, but less so: You can finesse their frustration by making payment simpler and persuading them that their services are worth the cost. If this doesn't grant a mandate for Democrats to seize power and rates rates, it doesn't promise much political benefit for anti-tax Republicans, either. Not in the short term.

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  • ||

    They should survey people with
    "Agree or disagree: I am not paying ENOUGH in taxes."

  • Naga Sadow||

    I pay very little federal tax and I still say I am paying to much!

    *Shakes fist in direction of Washington*

  • ||

    Income taxes aren't so bad in Florida (no state or municipal taxes). Living in NYC was brutal. My "rebate" check from the Federal government will go straight to the governments of NYC and New York State.

  • Jozef||

    Too bad that...

    1. The question wasn't framed as "Do you approve how your tax money is being used", and

    2. Other taxes weren't taken into account. I'm wondering how many people would consider their taxes fair if they realized how much various governments tax them for a gallon of gas.

    As for me, I'd consider my tax burden to be fair only if I approved of how my money was spent.

  • Christopher Monnier||

    I think the survey's a little misleading. A lot of people probably interpret the question of fairness as relative to other people in society. I believe that taxes in general are way too high, yet I could see myself agreeing that my level of taxation is fair. In other words, it wouldn't be fair, per se, for me to pay low taxes if everyone else still had to pay high taxes.

  • ||

    I hate taxes but...

    Married, filing jointly, $70 income, wife in school, after stimulus my total federal tax will be $400.

    I really can't complain about that (though I probably still will).

  • ||

    Make that $70k in income.

  • ||

    People dislike state taxes more than Federal taxes because the burden is distributed more evenly across the population. 1 in 5 citizens pay 80% of income taxes and payroll taxes are marketed as a pension plan, so the average middle class person has little reason to view Federal taxes as onerous.

    I think that historically, the negative reaction to taxes has sprung more from the speed of change in tax levels rather than from the absolute level of taxation itself. The tax revolts the 80's arose following rapid increases in notional and actual tax rates due not only to the rapid expansion of government but also inflation.

    People adapt to tax rates given time. Even a large bill doesn't seem so bad if you have time to plan for it. It's the sudden and unexpected jumps that really tick people off.

  • ||

    Not to mention that deficit spending is just another tax. Cutting taxes while raising deficits is irresponsible fiscal horseshit.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Tuck I too hate taxes but . . .

    I'm a full time college student who bartends full time hours. I'm taxed as if I'm only making 19,000 a year instead of the 35,000 I actually make but don't claim. When tax time comes I use my college status as an excuse for a hand out.

    I really can't complain either

  • ||

    My tax bill this year was 30% more than my assistant's gross salary.

    For that, I figure the feds owe me one (1) full-time employee. They can keep the change.

  • Neil||

    Don't want more taxes?

    Don't vote for Hussein.

    If you want less taxes, vote for MCCAIN!

  • ||

    http://www.pollingreport.com/prioriti.htm

    Pew Research Center, Feb 20-24:

    "Next, please tell me if you think the REPUBLICAN Party or the DEMOCRATIC Party could do a better job in each of the following areas. Which party could do a better job of [see below]?"

    Republicans 37, Democrats 49

    How weird is that?

  • Neil||

    Hey Joe why dont you ask them if they trust Obama or McCain on taxes? Of course they trust maverick McCain more!

  • tarran||

    In Massachusetts there is the option to pay a higher percentage of your income as a tax.

    I am curious how many people, if any, check the box.

  • Elemenope||

    I pay very little federal tax and I still say I am paying to much!

    Says the Sith Lord. [Shakes head.]

  • Guy Montag||

    Naga,

    I am on my way to my balcony to flip them off in person for the both of us.

  • Name Witheld||

    I imagine this figure would change if you got rid of witholding. If a single guy making 40,000 a year had to write a check for $10,000 (pulling numbers outta the air, I'm guessing they're approximately correct.) on April 15th rather than being slowly bled all year, I'd imagine he'd be a little more angry.


    Get rid of Witholding! Damn you Mr. Friedman.

  • Federal Government||

    My tax bill this year was 30% more than my assistant's gross salary.

    For that, I figure the feds owe me one (1) full-time employee. They can keep the change.



    RC Dean, you got it. Your employee is providing valuable services to you on the staff of the DEA. We're also thinking of placing another employee on your payroll. He'll be working on the staff of something called the Economic Stabilization Commission. His job will be to align the business decisions you make with those of the nation's needs - thereby eliminating wasteful duplication and ruinous competition. I'm sure you will find that his actions also help your bottom line.

  • ||

    Maybe, Neil. "Maverick" McCain does have a reputation for breaking with his party's unpopular tax policy. IIRC, he was one of the only Republicans to break with the party on Bush's tax cuts.

    To bad he had to flip-flop on the issue to win the nomination. Now, he's either going to be stuck with the less-popular tax policy, or he'll have to flip-flop again (which is a very mavericky thing to do, I guess) in order to get back on the winning side.

    BTW, have you ever seen nine trillion written out? It looks like this:

    $9,000,000,000,000

  • Neil||

    And now, Joe, hes proposing a very popular "gas tax holiday".

    I'd like to see BHO oppose that and tell Americans they should pay more at the pump.

    Can't wait until he tells Americans hes going to raise their taxes and increase the size of government with his socialist programs. That sure worked well for Mondale and Dukakis LOL.

  • ||

    Sit down sometime and run the numbers on turbo tax for a married couple with three children who make say 70K a year and have maybe 20K in home mortgage interest deduction. You will find that their federal tax liability beyond FICA and medicare is near zero. A lot of people in this country just don't pay much federal income tax. I am not surprised at all that people are not that upset about their tax burden. In contrast run the numbers of turbo tax of a single person who is renting, has no kids and makes say 100K a year. You will find out that guy or girl is being robbed blind by the government. Ironicly, the high earning single person is more likly to be a big Dem and vote for higher taxes and the middle class family of five is more likly to be a Republican and vote for lower taxes. I guess everyone gets what they want.

  • Bingo||

    My tax bill this year was 30% more than my assistant's gross salary.

    For that, I figure the feds owe me one (1) full-time employee. They can keep the change.



    But think of all the $600 toilet seats they can buy!

  • Kolohe||

    Married, filing jointly, $70[k] income, wife in school, after stimulus my total federal tax will be $400.

    I really can't complain about that (though I probably still will).


    Wow, give me a referral to your accountant. I have about the same income and i'm out 10K. Is dependent and tuition deductability that significant?

    Oh, and change my vote to unfair :).

  • Guy Montag||

    Yea, but what about the ozone hole and the killer bees? Why aren't we talking about those?

  • Kolohe||

    I see John more or less answered my question.

  • ||

    And now, Joe, hes proposing a very popular "gas tax holiday".

    That's an interesting proposal. I could see it helping him, but on the other hand, Obama need only make the connection to "crumbling bridges."

    Can't wait until he tells Americans hes going to raise their taxes and increase the size of government with his socialist programs. Actually, he's been saying throughout the campaign that he supports rolling back Bush's tax cuts, and only providing middle class tax relief. It's a very popular stance, according to all of the polling. Like, for example, the consistent double-digit lead the Democrats have held on the issue for a couple of years now.

    That sure worked well for Mondale and Dukakis LOL. It's just adorable the way you think it's still the 80s. So, were you in a coma last November, or what?

  • ||

    Whoops, two Novembers ago. You know, when the Democrats ran on rolling back Bush's tax cuts an took back both housed of Congress.

  • Pottsy||

    Funny how McCain thinks the prez can institute a holiday on taxes set at the state level, innit?

  • ||

    I don't think the taxes are all that unfair at the moment. I'm a married guy and combined we make less than $70k a year.

    But I just hate the wasteful spending of our government, both state-level and federal. Corruption is just too rampant and I'm tired of it. But, that won't change unless the next president and Congress introduce sweeping anti-corruption programs and laws.

    I know, wishful thinking.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Elomenope,

    I'm trying to attract private investment for a little thing called a "Death Star". You may have heard of it. High federal taxes, not the fact that it will not be completed in the lifetime of the investors, will scare investors away.

  • ||

    The whole tax system is jury rigged so that the more politically active people in our society - over 30 year old middle and upper middle class educated people - get all sorts of breaks - mortgage deductions, dependent deduction, charitable giving, ability to contribute to 401(K) out of pre-tax income, etc. These "saving" are of course illusory, but all this really goes a long way to taking the sting out of taxes for a lot of key voters. And this is why we will never be able to get a flat tax passed in this country.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Damn! Fucking double negative in my thread!

  • ||

    "Wow, give me a referral to your accountant. I have about the same income and i'm out 10K. Is dependent and tuition deductability that significant?

    Oh, and change my vote to unfair :)."

    Investment real estate allowed me to write down substantial portion of income, and tuition discount was massive...

  • Elemenope||

    I'm trying to attract private investment for a little thing called a "Death Star". You may have heard of it. High federal taxes, not the fact that it will not be completed in the lifetime of the investors, will scare investors away.

    LOL. Even the star destroyers bankrupted the Empire.

  • ||

    Vanya,

    You are exactly right. It is also set up to squash small business people. That is why corporate america loves taxes and never shed to many tears when the Dems take over. Regardless of what party is in office, they can always carve out breaks and any increase in taxes is more than made up for by the benefit of squashing competition.

  • kinnath||

    I must be extremely wealthy. I paid more in Fed taxes each of the past couple of years than I earned the last year I work full time before going to college (1981). That's after the mortgage deduction.

  • kinnath||

    Ah, the glories of inflation.

  • Emperor||

    What the hell is an aluminum falcon? That thing isn't paid for. You know what this is going to do to my credit?!!

  • tax slave||

    In contrast run the numbers of turbo tax of a single person who is renting, has no kids and makes say 100K a year. You will find out that guy or girl is being robbed blind by the government.

    fuck yeah. this single, renting, childless person making about 50K a year is sick and tired of bearing everyone else's tax burden. fuck you all!!

  • Guy Montag||

    Funny how McCain thinks the prez can institute a holiday on taxes set at the state level, innit?

    If he were talking about State taxes it would be really funny, but he is talking about the federal one.

  • ||

    Married, filing jointly, $70[k] income, wife in school, after stimulus my total federal tax will be $400.

    I really can't complain about that (though I probably still will).

    Wow, give me a referral to your accountant. I have about the same income and i'm out 10K. Is dependent and tuition deductability that significant?

    Oh, and change my vote to unfair :).


    It's the filing jointly and wife being a student that helps a lot, I'm sure. $10K in standard deduction, Plus, $2-4K in tax credits for learning and $600 in stimulus will do quite a bit to slay the tax man.

  • Guy Montag||

    Even the star destroyers bankrupted the Empire.

    The contractors were damaged the worst.

  • eg Ryan||

    Now, he's either going to be stuck with the less-popular tax policy,

    Crack was very popular too, doens't mean it was good for a person to do long term.

  • ||

    Less than ten percent on just over 100K joint earnings. That's fair I guess, it's almost like a tythe. This is the only day of the year I'm glad I had four kids.

  • Neil||

    And its adorable how you think America is a leftist nation, Joe.

    The Democrat Party won in 2006 because the Republican Party wasn't Conservative enough, and because the Democrats ran mostly blue dog Cconservative Democrats who are closer to me than you on policy.

    B. Hussein is NOT a blue dog Democrat.

  • ||

    It's a variation on the "slowly boiled frog" theory, I suspect. We've become used to be raped by Uncle Sam every April, and so we rejoice when we get the occasional reach-around.

    I wonder how often all those "satisfied" people look at the gross income amounts on their pay stubs?

  • The Whine Commonsewer||

    Cutting taxes while raising deficits is irresponsible fiscal horseshit.

    It is a fact of life that the government will spend and spend and spend and if you really believe that more taxes will result in balanced budgets I direct your attention to the last 50 years of deficits.

    Never, ever give the government any more than you absolutely have to. It doesn't matter how much they get it isn't enough and they will spend more, print more money, and generally piss it all down a rat hole.

  • Guy Montag||

    CO,

    You are lucky. I get fedraped every other week!

  • Fluffy||

    I think tax satisfaction probably will correlate pretty well to the comfort level people have with their disposable income.

    If DI starts to pinch, people will start to bitch about taxes again.

  • ||

    Best thing you could ever do would be to get rid of withholding. Make people write a check out of their pocket for taxes. If we ever did that, I suspect every politician in Washington would be singing the praises of low taxes or be hanging from a lamppost somewhere. The government gets away with robbing us of so much because it is sneaky about doing it and we don't realize or miss the money.

  • Elemenope||

    Admiral Ackbar Cereal?!

    "Your tongues can't repel flavor of that magnitude!!"

  • Neil||

    The debt doesnt matter so long as the GDP is growing and it stays a small % of our GDP.

  • Rhywun||

    fuck yeah. this single, renting, childless person making about 50K a year is sick and tired of bearing everyone else's tax burden.

    Amen to that. It's almost like I'm paying several thousand extra dollars to not have children and a white picket fence. Well, it's worth it, I guess.

  • ||

    And now, Joe, hes proposing a very popular "gas tax holiday".

    I'd like to see BHO oppose that and tell Americans they should pay more at the pump.


    I'd like to see BHO present a supply and demand graph and show the American people just what the combination of supply, demand, and price elasticity tells us about who will reap the greatest gain out of a gas tax holiday.

    Hint: it rhymes with "weevil oil companies."

  • The Whine Commonsewer||

    Married, filing jointly, $70 income, wife in school, after stimulus my total federal tax will be $400.

    You must have a hell of a mortgage payment. :-)

  • Guy Montag||

    Ya know, I might not be so bitter if Sen. Obama would promise me an $80,000 credit on a 1970 'Cuda like the credits on those little sissy cars that Pres. Bush is handing out.

  • The Whine Commonsewer||

    .... it is sneaky about doing it and we don't realize or miss the money.

    Dang Tootin'!

    Had a guy worked for me after ten years in the military. Boy was he shocked to see his net pay. Never realized that there was a diff between net and gross. He thought the salary I quoted him was the NET.

  • Guy Montag||

    Hint: it rhymes with "weevil oil companies."

    No, it is spelled States. The gasoline producers make less than either the feds or the States make per gallon. At the pump, the shop owners will not make a thing off the gas (just like right now) but they should see an increase in the other things they sell in the store.

  • ||

    "The government gets away with robbing us of so much because it is sneaky about doing it and we don't realize or miss the money.",/i>

    It makes me wonder about why people talk about their before tax income as if that all theirs.

    /I guess the truth is too depressing.

  • Old Geezer||

    fuck yeah. this single, renting, childless person making about 50K a year is sick and tired of bearing everyone else's tax burden.

    So sad to see the taxes I paid to give you an education were so terribly wasted.

  • Not Moe||

    Married, filing jointly, $70 income, wife in school, after stimulus my total federal tax will be $400.

    I rent, made 70 grand, my wife is in school, my tax was almost seven grand. I guess I shouldn't have gone to H&R Block.

  • TallDave||

    By contrast, 51% believe lower-income Americans pay too much,

    That's pretty funny, considering the bottom quartile pay essentially no income taxes.

    Anyways, when Obama wins we'll all enjoy paying more for hope and change.

    What? You're not against hope, are you? Hopophobes!

  • ||

    No, it is spelled States. The gasoline producers make less than either the feds or the States make per gallon. At the pump, the shop owners will not make a thing off the gas (just like right now) but they should see an increase in the other things they sell in the store.

    I agree that your second and third sentences are true. But what is the argument for your first sentence? Are states going to hike their taxes to reap the surplus caused by the feds holidaying theirs?

  • Guy Montag||

    Had a guy worked for me after ten years in the military. Boy was he shocked to see his net pay. Never realized that there was a diff between net and gross. He thought the salary I quoted him was the NET.

    Did he think that all meals, workout time and newspaper reading time were paid activities too? I have worked with quite a few like that. "I got here at 0600! Where were you?" Well, I ate breakfast, watched the news and looked at the paper before I came in and I don't bill that time to my customer.

  • JLE||

    I wonder if RC Dean realizes that only means the assistant is not being paid decently. Hello, inequity.

  • Guy Montag||

    MikeP,

    No, when the federal tax is reduced people will probably drive more and the States will realize greater revenue through increased amounts of fuel sold at their current, unconcionable, tax rates.

  • Guy Montag||

    Not ruling out some States hiking their taxes in the summer either.

  • TallDave||

    Married, filing jointly, $70 income, wife in school, after stimulus my total federal tax will be $400.

    Yeah, if you buy a house and max out your IRA/401k it's surprising how little you can pay on a decent income.

    One oft-overlooked advantage of rising income disparity is that it also means the very rich pay an increasingly larger share of taxes, even if their rates decline. After Bush's "tax cuts for the rich" the rich actually pay a larger share of total taxes then before -- and a lot of lower-income people end up pay no taxes at all.

  • ||

    If every one had to write the check each year you'd see a change of opinion.Withholding makes it painless and then many look forward to a refund.Why anyone would be happy about over paying[by average of 1700 dollars]I don't know.Well off to send my self employment tax.

  • Guy Montag||

    TallDave,

    Is Sen. Obama asking for change again? That really makes me bitter when some Harvard lawyer working in DC asks me for change! Why doesn't he use a little cash sometime and get his own change? Why does he think I have change anyway? I usually use American Express or Visa!

  • ||

    No, when the federal tax is reduced people will probably drive more and the States will realize greater revenue through increased amounts of fuel sold at their current, unconcionable, tax rates.

    That will follow only if dropping the tax lowers the price at the pump. I would argue it won't lower that price anywhere close to half the reduction in tax.

    Neither oil pumpers nor gasoline refiners are cost-constrained, and the market at the pump has already proven it can bear a price that includes 18 cents of federal tax. Most of any gas tax "holiday" will go right into oil companies' pockets -- serving as wonderful campaign fodder for opponents of McCain.

  • Guy Montag||

    Just realized summin! The bitter, gun toting Church people who have been out of work for 25 years are the ones who will be getting ammo money from the feds in a few weeks.

  • ||

    when the Democrats ran on rolling back Bush's tax cuts an took back both housed of Congress.

    joe, I thought they ran on rolling back Bush's Iraq War?

  • Guy Montag||

    Yea, right MikeP, just like all cigarettes are the same price because the cigarette companies just jack up the price from one place to another? The same way that all the gas prices are the same where the tax levels are the same?

    Neither of those are true and I doubt we will see your prediction come true either.

  • Ska||

    Be glad there is withholding - if you think people are fiscally irresponsible now, imagine if they had their full paychecks to blow on Gucci boots and other nonsense.

    Then, what, the gov't bails them out and the people responsible enough to pay their taxes make up the rest???

  • ||

    I'm not at all surprised 60% of Americans think their income tax burden is fair, since the bottom 50% of taxpayers pay no or very little income tax.

  • Guy Montag||

    Just when I thought Sen. McCain was proposing a good idea with that gas tax thingie he goes trashing CEOs for cutting good compendation deals.

    Knew it was too good to be true.

  • Happy Tax Payer||

    Kudos for getting out the evidence that the average American is a lot smarter than the average libertarian, not that any was needed.

  • Guy Montag||

    compenSation deals too!

  • squarooticus||

    Dr. K. | April 15, 2008, 2:54pm | #
    I'm not at all surprised 60% of Americans think their income tax burden is fair, since the bottom 50% of taxpayers pay no or very little income tax.


    Bingo. Give that man a cigar!

  • MK2||

    "As for me, I'd consider my tax burden to be fair only if I approved of how my money was spent." --Jozef

    You're a fucking idiot. Go live in a hunter gatherer village somewhere.

  • ||

    Guy Montag,

    I agree that a gas tax cut will in the long run result in most of the cut going to consumers, due primarily to suppliers competing for the fresh 18 cent surplus. But a tax "holiday" cannot change supplier behavior in the short term. The increased demand in any lowering of prices will simply raise the price of gasoline at the refinery or the price of oil at the wellhead. The supply is short-run constrained: The surplus simply can't all go to the consumer.

  • ||

    Everybody loves democracy when it's fucking over the other guy.

    You want democracy? Itemize my fucking tax bill I'll I only pay for what I think is a necessary function of government.

  • anon||

    I don't complain about my tax burden because I basically cheat the shit out of it. I have a moral obligation not to give Bu$hMcChimplerAntiChrist one red cent.

  • ||

    MK2,

    I think it's amazing medical feat that someone taught a seeping cunt to type with its labia, but even the neatest tricks get old after you see them enough.

  • ||

    People are happy to get a return because so many of them couldn't save a dollar if Uncle Sam didn't put it in a piggy bank for them. And that's the same reason most people don't want to write up one check on April 15th: there'd be a month-long recession every year. A government by, of, and for the people just might be made up of a bunch of people who can't control themselves with their own money, much less everyone else's.

    /cynical truth

  • ||

    SugarFree FTW.

  • Fluffy||

    MK2,

    Actually, your objection is idiotic.

    If everyone's tax burden stayed exactly where it is now, but all government spending was eliminated and all that tax money was redirected to providing big piles of ostrich feathers for Dick Cheney to roll around in, that would in fact constitute a material reason to consider the tax burden "unfair".

    If it is true at the extremes that the use of tax money can impact whether the tax burden is fair, it's true all throughout the curve of possible uses.

  • MK2||

    Sugarfree

    Your wit is watsed here. You should be writing for the New Yorker.

  • ||

    Just wipe off the public library keyboard when you're finished.

  • ||

    "Withholding makes it painless and then many look forward to a refund."

    Many people are very happy to have the government take care of them in this way. They say they would not have the self-discipline to save their money on a monthly basis. The only time they ever get an extra chunk of money is at tax refund time.

  • ||

    The tax tables/rates are becoming more and more irrelevant ... there are so many deductions-loopholes-inequities-bullshit that it takes an accounting wizard to figure it out. In any case, irrelevant not due to the fact that taxes are so low or painless to anyone. Instead, it is due to the fact that "starving the beast" has been proven wrong - we will NEVER get smaller government just by cutting taxes. Lower taxes will put more money into your pocket. Good thing. You will spend more money, creating jobs and lifting the economy. Good thing. This will in turn broaden the tax base and create more revenue. Bad thing.

    They will tax, borrow, mortgage against anything in order to spend, spend and spend some more. The new battle cry should be " No spending without representation".

  • tax slave||

    The only time they ever get an extra chunk of money is at tax refund time.

    ... an extra chunk of their money returned to them without interest that the Feds held on to for over a year and actually already spent ...

  • ||

    "... an extra chunk of their money returned to them without interest that the Feds held on to for over a year and actually already spent ..."

    Yes, yes, yes, I *know* that. But either most people do NOT know it, or they figure it doesn't matter, because if they were allowed the larger paychecks the poor silly things would just spend it all anyway.

    I'm serious. They are people who think Social Security is great because they think it means they don't have to bother planning for their own retirements.

    I'm happy when my tax refund is close to zero. Most (and I am saying MOST) people I know don't understand that. They are happy to get a big fat extra check in April and the math behind it makes no difference to them whatsoever.

  • tax slave||

    They are happy to get a big fat extra check in April and the math behind it makes no difference to them whatsoever.

    yep, the mind boggles. which is why we need to get rid of withholding. until people feel the pain in the pocketbook at tax time they won't get pissed off enough to do anything about it.

    which is why it will never happen. the Feds can't very easily fight off an armed rebellion here at home with all our troops otherwise occupied in the Middle East.

  • ||

    Careful about the IRA/401 account. Sounds too good to be true, right? Defer the taxes 'til after you retire ? My wife and I did that, only to find inflation caused our retirement to be way higher than the modest income I was making 30 years ago. Guess what ? Now my tax liability is much higher than it would have been had I paid the taxes 30 years ago. If it sounds too good to be true....

  • ||

    Retired
    85 K in '07
    9.5 K Fed
    4.5 K state

    Standard deductions

  • ||

    Tax slave, I completely agree with you, but we are sadly outnumbered my friend.

    If the federal government got rid of tax withholding, most Americans would beg to have it back.. It is the closest thing they have to a "savings plan."

    For all the bitching about the government we do, remember that the majority of Americans are getting exactly what they want. This simply isn't a country full of libertarians.

  • ||

    Jimmy Smith, you make a great point. I am concerned not just about the effects of inflation, but also about the possibility that the government may be taxing at a higher rate in the future. Thank gawd for the Roth.

  • ||

    By contrast, 51% believe lower-income Americans pay too much,

    That's pretty funny, considering the bottom quartile pay essentially no income taxes.


    It's amazing how many conservative morons think that SS and Medicare don't count as taxes. When people are asked these questions, they likely don't think, "Well, the federal tax withholding is only about 10% of my gross income, but the SS and Medicare portion is 6.2%, so it's cool."

    If you look at these graphs from the Tax Foundation (hardly a leftist organization), you'll see that total taxes are only slightly progressive if you exclude the bottom quintile. This doesn't even take into account the recent tax cuts since 2004, which should flatten these numbers out even more.

  • Fluffy||

    Well, Mo, that's all well and good, but absolutely irrelevant to the question of the income tax.

    If you don't pay any income tax, you cannot possibly validly answer "Yes" to the question, "Do you pay too much income tax?"

    The fact that you may make large Medicare and SS tax payments is not relevant to this specific question.

  • MK2||

    Yeah, people are always fucking around with things and trying to make them work better. That's how governments got started, but regulating the economy and collecting taxes isn't the worst of it. Human beings won't let nature take its course in health matters either. Doctors are contantly intervening, trying to cure cancer and shit. The ancient Egyptians even altered the course of the nile to irrigate their crops, the interventionist fuckers, and we haven't seen the last of that statist project. Capitalism is a perfect system on its own and will function best without any human intervention whatsovever. Why can't people see that? Why isn't Ron Paul the repoublican nominee? Where are the answers?

  • Kolohe||

    to echo jimmy smith, my biggest worry is that in thirty years those with roth ira's will be seen as getting 'tax-free windfalls' when they start withdrawing.

  • ||

    If everyone's tax burden stayed exactly where it is now, but all government spending was eliminated and all that tax money was redirected to providing big piles of ostrich feathers for Dick Cheney to roll around in, that would in fact constitute a material reason to consider the tax burden "unfair".

    Wait!! Sign me up! But only if he's been tarred first!!

  • tax slave||

    This simply isn't a country full of libertarians.

    that's for sure... reminds me of when I was handing out LP literature in front of the post office on April 15 many years back...

    more than once someone would scold me for daring to object to taxation... "well I LIKE to pay my taxes because I LIKE my roads and schools!!!!"

  • ||

    They always bring up roads, don't they? We could slash taxes by 90% and still have plenty of money for roads.

    I've just been reminding the gentle liberals I work with that they are funding the war. Every dollar they spend gets another 19-year-old that much closer to getting both of his legs blown off.

    Happy Tax Day, fuckers.

  • ||

    "my biggest worry is that in thirty years those with roth ira's will be seen as getting 'tax-free windfalls' when they start withdrawing"

    And it won't do any good to point out that you already paid taxes on that money. You paid taxes back when they were "only" 35%, and now they're up to 60%. You can bet that if the government decided to tax you for the difference, no one would care, because you would be "one of the rich people who deserve to pay more."

  • The Whine Commonsewer||

    Be glad there is withholding

    Withholding was invented for guys like my grandfather. He never, ever paid his taxes and when the IRS guys would come calling he'd tell them sorry boys, if I had some money I'd give it to you.

  • Fluffy||

    MK2,

    Your analogy only has merit if knowledge about the economy is accessible in the same way that knowledge about the human body is and can be acquired using the same sorts of diagnostic tools.

    The work of Hayek among others pretty persuasively demonstrated that it's not. You can't possibly acquire more knowledge about the economic situation faced by millions of disparate individuals than those individuals possess themselves. This makes "tinkering" of the sort performed by a doctor problematic.

    The metaphor is also only valid if a national economy is like a body, and is composed of some parts that are tissue and other parts that are disease that must be destroyed. This is problematic because the "parts" of the national economy are the individual citizens, and I am hesitant to allow Doctor/King MK2 to start declaring individual citizens "cancers" to be expunged unless they engage in dire criminal acts.

  • Naga Sadow||

    All this talk of fairness reminds me of my business philosophy class. When I asked the professor about the relevance of a business philosophy class that basically did not take into account Adam Smith, Ludwig Von Mises, or Milton Friedman he glared at me. Then he told me that when I have my degree I could decide what was relevant to teach in my class.

  • The Whine Commonsewer||

    They always bring up roads, don't they?

    Roads? Where we're going we don't need any roads!

    Sugar, you is so right. Everything that small government old time conservative types think the government ought to provide is funded through local taxes (property tax, sales tax), not federal income taxes.

    Cops
    Roads
    Libraries
    Courthouses
    Fire Stations
    Public Schools

    Okay, I'll give you Interstate Highways which are funded by gas taxes, fed and state.

    Quick, somebody gimme a list of what we get for our federal income tax.

  • ||

    "They always bring up roads, don't they?"

    So true! They always bring up something your state and local taxes pay for as a way to justify the size of the *federal* government. Why not justify the federal government's abuses because I like the things my condo association dues pay for. Makes about the same amount of sense.

  • tax slave||

    Quick, somebody gimme a list of what we get for our federal income tax.

    Afghanistan
    Iraq
    Israel
    Saudi Arabia
    etc...

  • robc||

    Pirate Jo,

    Re: Witholding as savings plan

    Whats the difference between buying an extra 6-pack every two weeks and throwing a big bash in early May (when I figure the refund arrives - if you are going to use the IRS as a savings plan, I figure you arent filing in February either)?

    If you spend extra money you have, how does having the IRS "save" it for you help any? Dont these people just "blow" their refund?

  • ||

    Don't forget the DEA! Those wacky kids are always down for a good time!

  • ||

    "If you spend extra money you have, how does having the IRS "save" it for you help any? Dont these people just "blow" their refund?"

    robc, I don't disagree with you in the least! Most of the people I know use it to pay down the balance on their credit cards and don't even realize the irony. It's really dumb, but that's just the way people think. They like getting that big check at tax time, and if anything they seem glad to let the government earn interest on it all year.

  • ||

    Quick, somebody gimme a list of what we get for our federal income tax.

    War. Food stamps. Some other stuff I forget.

  • ||

    I wonder if RC Dean realizes that only means the assistant is not being paid decently. Hello, inequity.

    My assistant moved 120 miles to take this job and gets paid at the top of salary band for her position.

    She finds the pay adequate, the working conditions quite good, and her boss pretty congenial, most days.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "It's amazing how many conservative morons think that SS and Medicare don't count as taxes."

    It's amazing how may liberal morons think they can get away with conflating FICA payments with the income tax whenever someone points out that the bottom 50% of income earners pay virtually no income tax.

    No one gets any "entitlement" payments back in return in exchange for income tax payments - unlike FICA payments.

    And the people trying to conflate the two always "forget" to mention that those SS benefit payment formulas are also highly "progressive" in that those on the lower income end of the scale get back proportionally more in benefits relative to what they have paid in that is the case for those on the high end of the income scale.

  • Fair Tax||

    Support the FairTax and eliminate Federal Income, Social Security, and Medicare taxes!!!!!!

  • Grover||

    Fuck FairTax Faggotry

    We don't need a %30+ VAT

  • TallDave||

    Along with moving tax day to election day, they should make withholding illegal.

    If you had to write the gov't a check every month, you'd be pissed.

    Guy Montag,

    Don't worry, after you cling to your Sig Saueur a while the pain goes away. And if that doesn't work, you can go to church, or if all else fails, curse at a minority.

  • robc||


    No one gets any "entitlement" payments back in return in exchange for income tax payments - unlike FICA payments.



    No one gets any entitlement payments back in return for FICA payments either. The FICA tax and SS payments are completely unrelated entities. The SCOTUS has even said so.

    FICA is just another income tax. It is not a payment into any particular program, no matter how much they lie and say it is.

  • Naga Sadow||

    Good! Let the hate flow . . .

    *wrings hands in gleeful anticipation*

  • John Q. Taxpayer||

    Thank you, sir, may I have another?

  • TTT||

    It's really dumb, but that's just the way people think. They like getting that big check at tax time, and if anything they seem glad to let the government earn interest on it all year.

    I have to disagree since I am one of those people getting a large return this year.

    1. Exactly how much interest are you earning? Savings accounts are only paying 1%. Assumining I had the money the entire year, we are talking less the $50 per year or a $1 per week. Not worth the effort.

    2. You do not mention the risk. There is a huge penalty which will wipe out all of the interest you earn if you underpay your taxes. There is a real possiblity of that since my income varies from year to year. A dollar a week is not worth the risk.

    3. Human Nature. Mental accounting, referencing and prospect theory are part of human nature. I am happier getting a big check from the government then I am when I have to write a big check to them. It is worth the measly $1 per week it costs me.

  • Guy Montag||

    RCD,

    Does she know how to weld?

  • Guy Montag||

    Don't worry, after you cling to your Sig Saueur a while the pain goes away. And if that doesn't work, you can go to church, or if all else fails, curse at a minority.

    But all I have is a Saiga and a Benelli!

  • Guy Montag||

    The income tax list:

    Federal income taxes pay for Defense (the Union Army, Navy and others, plus the National Guard, ohter than State missiones), federal emergency relief (to include some National Guard Stare missions), the federal court system, federal law enforcement including Homeland Security (includes Coast Guard), all those national parks, the federal court system, the federal jail system and a bunch of other stuff that I can't remember right now. BTW, everything I can not tell you about is in this list :)

  • ||

    I make about 150k and paid 13k in US income taxes. I honestly think that is something I could live with. What bothers me is the margainal rate is so high that any extra money I make above this in the future will be taxed at a much higher rate. Since the child credits and exemeptions phase out at about what I am making now, the real marganal rate is even higher then my tax bracket.

    I would support a flat tax even if it caused me to pay a little more now, just to know that if I ever really make it big then I won't get screwed.

  • ||

    I, too, worry about the feds changing the rules after I'm retired and confiscating a big chunk of my Roth or an extra chunk of my 401K.
    I was on the floor of the Democratic National Convention in 1996 when Jesse Jackson called for 5% of all money in all pension funds, public and private, to be seized and spent on "infrastructure."
    No one batted an eye. Well, except for me.

    http://www.inmotionmagazine.com/jjdem.html

    I still skrimp like mad so I can contribute the max 401K plus Roth contributions every year, but I sometimes wonder if I'm being too smart by half.

  • ||

    "Exactly how much interest are you earning? Savings accounts are only paying 1%. Assumining I had the money the entire year, we are talking less the $50 per year or a $1 per week. Not worth the effort."

    Well, for that matter, why bother saving at all? Might as well spend it and live in the moment. If you end up poor in your old age, just go on the dole and figure you are getting some of your taxes back. There's your investment.

  • TTT||

    Well, for that matter, why bother saving at all? Might as well spend it and live in the moment. If you end up poor in your old age, just go on the dole and figure you are getting some of your taxes back.

    Where did that come from? I was pointing out that extra you get from micromanaging your witholdings to minimize the refund check is not worth the trouble. If you want to waste the time and effort caclulating the witholdings down to the penny and risk a penalty if you miscalculate, knock yourself out. I do not think the gain is worth the risk.

  • MK2||

    Fluffy,

    I'm being fucking serious here. Why should we screw around with the economy? Once--I can't remember exactly when--the economy was completely unregulated, and it worked just fine. Everybody was rich and happy. So we know it works on its own. Things got all fucked up when the state came along and started collecting taxes. We need to go back to that time when the economy was free of human intervention. It's not as though we don't know if it will work. Ask the Goths. I think it was the Goths. God, people are just so stupid about thinking we need to do anything at all about the economy but sit back and watch it hum along. They sure as hell don't know anything about history. I'll bet they never talk about the Goths in state-run public schools.

  • Daniel Reeves||

    From the original post:

    By contrast, 51% believe lower-income Americans pay too much, while 63% believe upper-income people pay too little.


    Somebody should set up an experiment: one control group is simply asked their opinion on who is paying their fair share in the tax system, and another control group is given the facts about the effective tax rate before they make their opinion.

  • MK2||

    Here it is!

    To his enemies the Gothic king Tautaikis was austerely cruel, but to his faithful subjects he was merciful and just. In cases where the crops failed, he absolved the farmers from the government taxes. If he discovered that some official wronged somebody, then he severely punished that official. Tautarikis even encouraged the people to come directly to him with their complaints. Therefore Roman citizens highly esteemed their "barbarian" king.

  • mk2||

    We don't even have to go back all the way to the Goths!

    "Before Amerika subdued the indigenous people, everything they [the Indians] needed to survive was here, given by Creator to all who respected creation and tried to live in harmony with their relations! Food, clothing, and shelter came from the Buffalo for the people of the plains. They did not owe a bank, THEY HAD NO TAXES TO PAY, they had no landlords, they had no jobs. They spent their lives with family and friends everyday. How about that for "family values" George Bush? They hunted, fished, hiked, made crafts and, sung songs, danced, ran, walked, shot bows and arrows and GUNS, (after the wasicu came along),went swimming, held religious ceremonies, and told stories."

  • MK2||

    Oh, boy was Hayek right about the welfare state leading to serfdom, Pitty the poor Swedes, chained to the land by a oppressive government. There isn't an enslaved Swede who wouldn't gladly trade places with the poorest, homeless, but glorious free, American! Ah, and the taxes they pay! You can keep your Volvo, you poor bastard. I'll take my Ford and my liberty any day!

  • Fluffy||

    Actually, MK2, the Roman Republic had very little in the way of direct taxes for citizens - after the first Punic War and for some time thereafter only the provinces were taxed.

    Rome ceased to be a dynamic society when taxation rose following the reign of the Antonines, and became extremely brittle as state micromanagement of economic and social life grew beginning with the reign of Diocletian. It was eventually destroyed by more dynamic groups like [as one example] the Goths.

    By the way, if taxes were the guy to human advancement, one problem with your cite is that it talks about remission of taxes. Only taxes that actually exist can be remitted. Since Tautaikis had taxes to remit, why didn't the milieu he lived in instantly turn into Sweden?

  • Daniel Reeves||

    A government by, of, and for the people just might be made up of a bunch of people who can't control themselves with their own money, much less everyone else's.


    I had typed up a whole paragraph that started with "Congratulations, joe!" I reread my paragraph and became suspicious. Using ctrl+f, I discovered that I am dyslexic. Sorry, "jon."

  • MK2||

    Fluffy,

    Yes, you're right! The Roman Republic before the first Punic war should be our model. Libertarians have some educational work to do. Also--I'm sure I'm right about this--the time before the first Punic war was way before the Romans started feeding Christians to the lions. This has to be emphasized (I'm thinking of those whiny evangelicals).

  • MK2||

    Since Tautaikis had taxes to remit, why didn't the milieu he lived in instantly turn into Sweden?

    Oh, I'll bet the Swedes could teach that old Gothic king a thing or two about taxes.

  • MK2||

    "Rome ceased to be a dynamic society when taxation rose following the reign of the Antonines"

    Your right Fluffy. I've researched this. One Ronulus Paulus opposed the Antonines and came very close to beating them when it was discovered that Paulus had published a series of scrolls attacking dark-skinned peoples who had come under Roman rule. Political correctness was a problem even then.

  • MK2||

    Sorry, that should have read that Ronulus Paulus opposed the tax-and-spend liberals who succeded the Antonines. Ironically, he also favored controling the borders to keep the Goths out.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    "Be wary of strong spirits. It can make you shoot at tax collectors ... and miss."-Robert A. Heinlein

  • MK2||

    Friends and neighbors complain that taxes are indeed very heavy, and if those laid on by the government were the only ones we had to pay, we might the more easily discharge them; but we have many others, and much more grievous to some of us. We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly. ~Benjamin Franklin

    Franklin might have added "and five times as much by our simple-minded ideologies."

  • MK2||

    "I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

  • ||

    OK, well, if you want to cut taxes, you're going to have to cut the other side of the equation, as well. Or are you going to continue throwing it on the Chinese credit card and hoping that they will continue to bail us out?

    My vote: cut at least two-thirds of that bloated monstrosity called "Defense."

    May I submit that a lot of the other stuff we sorta need....like paying the interest on the national debt, social security, etc. If you want to get rid of the federal court system (and federal laws), have fun trying to run an economy formed of 50 different entities with 50 different sets of laws. Social security? First of all, hike the cap--no reason not to include everyone's income in the target. Second of all, hike the age at which people are eligible for Soc Sec. Maybe gracefully segue into it, but definitely hike it back up to the average life expectancy. If done carefully I bet we could even cut the rate.

    Get that through the yowls of Republicans and then we can talk about getting rid of federal taxes....

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    Hike the Cap! WTF, because more taxes will solve everything?

    Dude! I buy you books and all you do is eat the covers.

  • ||

    If you want to get rid of the federal court system (and federal laws), have fun trying to run an economy formed of 50 different entities with 50 different sets of laws.

    Yeah. That's always the first thing on any libertarian's list of things to cut from the budget: federal courts and interstate law.

    In case you can't tell, I'm rolling my eyes.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    My eyes are rolling because I'm into my second bottle of wine in celebration of April 15th!

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

    Yeah except they didn't have income taxes in his day.

    "I'm proud to pay taxes in the United States; the only thing is, I could be just as proud for half the money."-Arthur Godfrey

  • ||

    We are taxed twice as much by our idleness, three times as much by our pride, and four times as much by our folly.

    If Benjamin Franklin were taxed in his day as much as we are now, he and his friends and neighbors would be in hock for 400% of their productive capacity.

  • MK2||

    Ah, if only we could return to Franklin's time. Clocks are so hard to turn back. Our times are so very complicated. The simplicity of libertarianism is what appeals. A child could understand it. Or a moron.

  • The Wine Commonsewer||

    The simplicity of libertarianism is what appeals. A child could understand it. Or a moron.

    MK2, what a curious thing to say at a, gasp, libertarian website. Did you think you stumbled into Daily Kos by mistake?

    WTF are you doing here? If you think libertarians are morons I mean?

    BTW, since taxes seem to enthrall you, perhaps you won't mind paying my share?

    Oh, and did you include a little extra for the treasury with your April 15th payment?

  • LI\'L URKOBOLD™||

    LI'L URKOBOLD™ like a lick libertarianism. But no if MK2 touch it.

  • Fluffy||

    MK2,

    If you attempt to argue from historical example that taxation and civilization advance in proportion, you have to be prepared to account for each and every instance in history when that was not the case. Since that adds up to just about all history, that's a lot of accounting.

    In addition, if you want to present the stone age savages of preColumbian North America as an example of a society without taxes which libertarians must account for, you as a statist need to account for the numerous societies crippled, stunted and mummified by their taxation schemes and by their systems of state control of economics. That's what you started out advocating, after all, since it's "practical tinkering" like that which you claim leads to human advance. The state is like a doctor, you said. Its ratio of successful surgeries to failed ones is not very good.

  • PC||

    According to Gallup's 2008 Economy and Personal Finance survey, conducted in April, 60% regard the amount of income tax they have to pay this year as "fair." Only 35% say it's not fair....In other new Saddam Hussein has won reelection taking in 95% of the vote.

  • Bronwyn||

    I sent off a big - no, huge - fucking check to the US Treasury yesterday morning.

    You can plant me firmly in the "we pay too much in taxes" column.

  • ||

    "If you want to waste the time and effort caclulating the witholdings down to the penny and risk a penalty if you miscalculate, knock yourself out."

    Micromanage? I just claim '1' on my little form and it comes out about even. If I claimed '0' like a lot of people I could have more withheld, or even have extra withheld on top of that.

  • tarran||

    OK,

    Taking bets: is mk2 an edward sock-puppet? Or has libertarian-hater ted decided to grace us with his presence yet again?

    My money is on edward: ted's arguments tended to get more coherent as the debate raged on, while edward usually retreats to childish insults.

  • Guy Montag||

    I sent off a big - no, huge - fucking check to the US Treasury yesterday morning.

    Switch to smaller paper!
    [ducks]

  • ||

    I don't mind paying taxes. I just want a good ROI (return on investment). If the government were investing in our infrastructure, making college more accessible, or allievating crime, than I'd pay twice as much in taxes.

    However, to see them waste it on Iraq and the Bridget to Nowhere makes me angry that I have to pay a nickel.

    It's not how much you pay; it's what you get in return.

  • Bronwyn||

    *shakes fist at Guy*

    I'll get you, my pretty. You and your little dog, too!

  • ||

    Neil,
    The debt doesnt matter so long as the GDP is growing and it stays a small % of our GDP.

    GDP is only growing because the FED keeps creating more money! (Out of thin Air) This insidious tax steals value from every dollar you own.

    Steve

  • ||

    GDP is only growing because the FED keeps creating more money! (Out of thin Air)

    Uh, no. The GDP is growing even when inflation is taken into account.

    It's odd that one so critical of the Fed would think that creating more money makes GDP grow...

  • robc||

    "I like to pay taxes. With them I buy civilization." -- Oliver Wendell Holmes

    "Everything Oliver Wendell Holmes ever said was wrong." -- robc

GET REASON MAGAZINE

Get Reason's print or digital edition before it’s posted online

  • Progressive Puritans: From e-cigs to sex classifieds, the once transgressive left wants to criminalize fun.
  • Port Authoritarians: Chris Christie’s Bridgegate scandal
  • The Menace of Secret Government: Obama’s proposed intelligence reforms don’t safeguard civil liberties

SUBSCRIBE

advertisement