Reason.tv: W-2 WTF?!?!—Tax facts to make your head explode!

Is it patriotic to pay taxes? And if so, who the most patriotest Americans? Who are the least? How many words are in the tax code? How much do patriotic Americans pay to prepare their taxes? How long do you have to work in a year to earn enough to pay your taxes?

The answers to these and other questions add up to one big W-2 WTF.

Produced by Meredith Bragg. Written by Bragg and Nick Gillespie.

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Reason on taxes here and here.

Related: "3 Great Reasons to Pay Your Taxes (or Else!): A friendly reminder from the IRS":

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  • Ska||

    On the Home Page, the caption says WFT.

    It's an acronym that really shouldn't be fucked up.

  • ||

    Libertarians are obsessed taxes, almost as if they were the only relevant issue. WAKE UP, people! Most Americans don't think 50% marginal tax rates will cause the endof the world! Maybe when you figure that out you can start coming up with positive solutions to real problems rather than simply saying "TEH LIBRULS WANT TO RAISE UR TAXES!"

  • squarooticus||

    I pay taxesprotection money only because the governmentmob will throw me in PMITA prisonwhack me if I don't.

  • ||

    We need the tax code just like it is. If we were to do away with it and go to a 15% flat tax, just think of the number of IRS agents and tax accountants that would be out of work! And what comes with that? Suffering! Think of teh Childrenz!

    People that want a flat tax hate children.

  • Paul||

    Libertarians are obsessed taxes

    Wrong. Liberals are obsessed with taxes. Libertarians are obsessed with over-high taxes. It's a subtle difference, but an important one.

  • ||

    Tony,
    Most Americans don't think the 50% marginal tax rate would apply to them. I bet if you asked them, "Would you be opposed to a 50% marginal tax rate on YOUR income?", I imagine you'd get slightly less than 'most' to agree to that.

    Dipshit.

  • ||

    Paul,
    And how do you know what constitutes "over-high" taxes?

  • Bronwyn||

    How do you know what constitutes "enough" taxes, Tony?

  • ||

    I am a spoof.
    I am a spoof.
    I am a spoof.
    I AM A SPOOF.
    I AM A SPOOF.
    I AM A SPOOF!

  • Bronwyn||

    Yes, yes, I can see that. Stop. Please for the love of all that is unholy, stop.

  • ||

    There is a simple question to ask people who advocate for high taxes. You postulate to them that there is a hypothetical national lottery, with a few winners each year. All winners do not have to pay any Federal taxes that year.

    You ask them whether they would pay the taxes even if they won the lottery. I have never gotten a yes answer from anyone. That shuts them up pretty quick.

  • Dello||

    "How long do you have to work in a year to earn enough to pay your taxes?"

    That should be "How many PATRIOTIC hours will I have the PLEASURE of working for the good of the country that I LOVE?". You shmuck!

  • Mike M.||

    If Obama nominated every single elite liberal in America to a cabinet post, he could probably pay down the entire national debt in one term.

  • ||

    What's patriotic about using the power of government to steal from some people to give to other people? It's not like the people being ripped off are bad, and the people receiving largess are good. In fact, it may be the other way around.

    America was built on the idea of merit and opportunity. "Patriotic" in this country means respecting the rights and the property of others. Rich people aren't lords oppressing their enslaved serfs, no matter how many times the left implies that they are. It's not even remotely true. And constantly demonizing successful people does what to people who might want to be successful? Especially kids?

    So, with no good moral or utilitarian reason for seizing wealth and redistributing it, just why are they doing it again?

  • ||

    So, with no good moral or utilitarian reason for seizing wealth and redistributing it, just why are they doing it again?

    Because they can. Exercising power, for certain people, is its own reward. They'll do it just to do it.

  • ||

    Yeah, I know, but clothing their abuse of power in terms like "fair" and "patriotic" makes me ill. Are we really collectively this stupid? Really?

  • ||

    Pro Lib, yes, unfortunately, I am.

  • High Every Body||

    Epi,

    You ask them whether they would pay the taxes even if they won the lottery. I have never gotten a yes answer from anyone. That shuts them up pretty quick.

    Oh come on! Nothing shuts those Leftoids up. They just come back with more of their "equality" and "fairness" bs.

  • ||

    WFT means, in the middle English, "what fuckest thou?"

  • ||

    The problem I have with these types of statistics, is the same problem I have with Obama saying he won't raise your taxes if you make less than $250,000 - there are many other taxes other than income tax. The bottom 50% may only pay 1.3% of the income tax, but what about the gas tax?

    Criticizing Obama's tax pledge, then using the same technique when it suits you is rather hypocritical.

  • ||

    I pay more in taxes than a lot of people make, yet I have less disposable income than those people. So much for striving to succeed.

    I generally don't fall into any tax breaks (ditto re last year's stimulus rebate checks), and I pay the IRS fine for not being married. So I continue to not buy a house, not buy a new car and not go on vacation. This is how we stimulate our economy.

  • ||

    *head explodes in violent, splattering mess*

    Really, is it necessary to subject us to this 5 days before the 15th? The time of year when all of us despised tax accountants are barely clinging to sanity as it is?

    File your 4868's if you're not going to make the deadline, people.

    *burrows back down into trenches*

  • ||

    Is that E.T. doin the peace sign?

  • Karl Marx||

    From each according to his ability, to each according to his needs!

    Hey, Ayn, you Russian slut--I'm kicking your ass on Google!

  • JP||

    I guess I shouldn't be surprised that the same people who claim, with a straight face, that Obama was not bowing to King Abdullah would also claim that favoring higher taxes is "patriotic."

    I so want to smack that grin off Biden's kisser.

  • ||

    I hate things like this. Income tax is only 1/3 of the federal take. A household with a hard working family making 50,000 pay far far more in taxes than an extremely rich family that earn 50,000 on their "tax free" municpal bonds. Meanwhile, the poor person pays the property tax either directly or through rent to the rich person who pays no taxes.

    Income redistribution, indeed.

  • hmm||

    We can't do away with taxes. Think of all the poor accountants and CPAs that would have to find work. YOU PEOPLE HATE OUR PATRIOTIC ACCOUNTANTS!!!

    "The bottom 50% may only pay 1.3% of the income tax, but what about the gas tax?

    Criticizing Obama's tax pledge, then using the same technique when it suits you is rather hypocritical."

    The bottom percentage of tax payers clearly drives more or drives less fuel efficient cars than the top 1 percent, therefore creating a balance between the top percentage and the bottom percentage with respect to tax paid. Put down the koolaid cup and step away from the crack pipe.

    Don't even look at gift or death taxes. Next someone is going to claim the taxes even out at death.

  • ||

    Lamar, the IRS charges more for married people filing sepratley than for single people. Even with joint filing, it would probably cost you more, assuming your wife has comprable income.

    Another point is when wealth people have their taxes raised they just charge more. If hollywood will pay $20M for a limosine liberal to star in a new picture they'll just as easily pay $40M and raise the price of movie tickets. Even if you don't go, everyone else will so you'll end up paying indirectly.

  • ||

    Every year about this time, I thank God Almighty that I am an undereducated, lazy, unable to work piece of flotsam.

  • hmm||

    Did someone actually just compare tax free munis to income tax on a family of the same income as the amount of the munis held? Seriously did someone just do that in defense of higher taxes on the more wealthy to fund utilitarian projects? No really did I read that right? Cause I honestly don't think anyone would mount such a defense.

  • ||

    I also thank God for all the over achievers. Without them, we underachievers couldn't get by. Conversely, if there weren't so many sponges in society, you overachievers wouldn't be working so hard and I worry that you would be miserable in life. It all balances out nicely and we're all happy. Circle of life and all that.

  • JD||

    "And if so, who the most patriotest Americans?"

    WHO TEH MOSTEST REASON EDITOR?

  • poopy pants||

    Eat cake frosting out of the can until you want to vomit Eat cake frosting out of the can until you want to vomit

    I swear someday to learn my lesson. Today is not the day.

  • ||

    Marc @ 12:48pm

    The gas tax is a proxy for a user fee for road use. A poor one, yes, but it's about as good as we're going to get.

    I think it is fairly widely agreed that people ought to pay for things they use.

    If you had bitched about the FICA tax, you might be on firmer ground.

  • High Every Body||

    Where is Naga to tell us how he had a reported income of $30 last year and has to send 50% in?

  • ||

    "Lamar, the IRS charges more for married people filing separately than for single people. Even with joint filing, it would probably cost you more, assuming your wife has comparable income."

    Your point is well taken, though it does appear that to be a limited point (what if the wife doesn't work, or what if they file jointly, etc.). Thanks for the heads up.

  • ||

    f you had bitched about the FICA tax, you might be on firmer ground.

    What about capital gain tax being lower than 'regular' income tax? this pisses me off to no end.

  • hmm||

    "What about capital gain tax being lower than 'regular' income tax? this pisses me off to no end."

    Ya. Who needs equities. That whole business thing is overrated and capital is just a myth.

  • ||

    Libertarians are obsessed with over-high taxes. It's a subtle difference, but an important one.

    That's rich! Pardon me while I call bullshit on this statement. I mean Libertarians are a huge chunk of the "Taxation is theft" crowd but yeah the only objection is when the tax rates are too high

    So tell me what is the appropriate level of taxation then that will keep libertarians from complaining about them?

    I'm not trying to be a dick here, but to say that libs only bitch about "over-high" tax sounds a bit disingenuous coming from the same crowd that pushes the taxation is theft or taxation is "protection money"

  • hmm||

    Reason needs a business oriented writer. Just an observation.

  • High Every Body||

    So tell me what is the appropriate level of taxation then that will keep libertarians from complaining about them?

    5% - 15% either on income OR on purchases.

    Next silly question?

  • bill||

    Repeal the 16th amendment and we won't have to pay ANY income tax!

  • High Every Body||

    Our Leftoids are not trying hard enough on this one. I don't see a single comment suggesting gun control as a solution to this.

  • Marc||

    Gas tax was example, perhaps a more timely one is the cigarette tax, which Reason just criticized Obama for breaking his tax pledge.

  • ||

    I'm an asshole that goes to local meetings asking "Is there anyone here whose property taxes are too low?" So far, no one has complained about their taxes being too low but then they start demanding more and more shit from the local guv'mint.
    I'm willing to let anyone with too low taxes to pay mine, so they can feel morally superior and more patriotic.

  • Carl||

    Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.

  • ||

    Next silly question?

    Really? Asking people who constantly bitch about taxes what they this is appropriate is "silly"? Good to know.

  • hmm||

    "Gas tax was example, perhaps a more timely one is the cigarette tax, which Reason just criticized Obama for breaking his tax pledge."

    You can choose to not smoke. Not paying income tax has a few ramifications that most are not willing to live with. You really need to think out your examples before using them. The Big O bash is because he said he was not going to levy a tax that would effect the lower brackets by saying he was only going to tax the higher brackets. He was full of shit and knows damn well a cigarette tax hits the lower incomes harder than the upper incomes. They can still choose to stop and not pay the tax, where as the penalty for me not paying income tax can be pretty steep.

  • ||

    I don't care what the tax rates are on the rich as long as I get a magic flying unicorn.


    and free health care.

  • High Every Body||

    Asking people who constantly bitch about taxes what they this is appropriate is "silly"?

    Around here it is. Are you new here?

  • hmm||

    "Really? Asking people who constantly bitch about taxes what they this is appropriate is "silly"? Good to know."

    It is silly. It's a fallacious argument. You have no means of arguing the current situation is good or just therefore you try to argue that the other party can not produce a better situation. See the Harvard student and Barney "Elmer Fudd" Frank exchange for a perfect example of the tactic.

  • Orange Line Special||

    Libertarians are obsessed taxes, almost as if they were the only relevant issue.

    I saw a FrontlineTVEpisode about TheGalloFamily and others spending about a million on lobbying which saved them something like 30 million.

    I suspect the same dynamic is going on here.

    In other news, maybe Reason could give him a job, and Reason's buddies got busted.

  • ||

    ChicagoTom,

    In a bloated state such as ours, anything I pay over and above what I get back from the government in services is excessive taxation. The overpayment is wealth transfer, plain and simple. While you can make the argument that taxes are user fees, and the argument that taxes provide "civilization," any money taken from me in order to give it to someone else is theft. Excessive taxation is theft.

  • EJ||

    "What about capital gain tax being lower than 'regular' income tax? this pisses me off to no end."

    Beyond the eocnomic fact that when you tax capital, you make capital more expensive and therefore wage growth slows, hirting everyone, you are incorrect with yor basic fact. Capital gains taxes are not adjusted for inflation. If you buy a stock at $5, hold it for 5 year sell it at $10, you pay 15% tax on $5 profit. But in reality, much of that icnrease was just inlfation. If the dollar loses say 50% of its value (to make the math easy), then you are really paying 100% real capital gains tax. On average, the effective real capital gains tax is currently at about 30%. The WSJ had an article on this about a year ago. As inlfation gets higher, it gest worse. Int he late 70's the real capital agins tax on average was over 100% for a ocuple of years.

  • High Every Body||

    In a bloated state such as ours, anything I pay over and above what I get back from the government in services is excessive taxation.

    But think of your neighbors! And . . . THE CHILDREN!

  • EJ||

    real capital gains link

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120778809913003525.html?mod=opinion_main_commentaries

  • High Every Body||

    EJ,

    Don't forget that you are paying CGT on money that was already taxed in the corporation you either owned part of (selling stock) or still own (taking a dividend).

  • Naga Sadow||

    HEB,

    I was having my knee x-rayed, bitch! Next question.

  • High Every Body||

    Next question.

    Was it done on your dime or mine?

  • ||

    ChicagoTom,

    I realized that I failed to address this portion of your question.

    I'm not trying to be a dick here, but to say that libs only bitch about "over-high" tax sounds a bit disingenuous coming from the same crowd that pushes the taxation is theft or taxation is "protection money"

    The problem is two-fold:

    1) There a lot of anarcho-capitalists on the board that object to all taxes. This is not the libertarian/small government position.

    2) A libertarian can legitimately object to being taxed for functions he or she think the government has any business performing, but should still realize that some level of taxation with be necessary in even a minimal state. I find it hard to believe that the essential functions of all levels of government couldn't be performed on a flat 10% of income and 1% of aggregate total wealth per year. And, of course, the abolition of all other taxes (SS taxes also) and the entire convoluted tax code. The flat tax still creates the problem of overpayment, but that can be dealt with with a cap similar to how we currently cap SS taxes.

    Like any drunken college kid, the government should learn to live on what we give it.

  • High Every Body||

    SF,

    Did we ever get an answer on MNG's Seder plans?

  • Naga Sadow||

    HEB,

    Rest easy. I have good insurance cuz I pay for it.

  • ||

    HEB,

    It's sad. He may not find out why this night is different from every other night.

  • High Every Body||

    SF,

    If his mom forgets about the lamb's blood then we won't have him to pick on any more.

  • ||

    There was a piece in today's Wall St. Journal by the national taxpayer advocate of the IRS (!) that cited numerous jaw-droppers about the complexity absurdity of the IRC. Even the bureaucrats running the insane asylum recognize the problem, but are impotent to do anything about. This is government in action.

    Now, can we please just get on with letting run them our healthcare industry!

  • Justen||

    After a decade of having my money stolen to give to people who are already wealthy and really have no excuse to need anything from me, I find the idea of having my money stolen to support people who have less than me quite palatable. Unfortunately, that's not what is actually happening. The talk is more appealing at least.

  • ||

    I pay more in taxes than a lot of people make, yet I have less disposable income than those people. So much for striving to succeed.

    I call bullshit x10.

  • ||

    Thank you for your input.

  • ||

    Ya. Who needs equities. That whole business thing is overrated and capital is just a myth.

    No one said anything about taxing capital. We are talking about capital gain. So, quit playing the stupid game.

    Now, who is to say that capital gain brings more good to society than income (i.e., investing vs. working).


    Int he late 70's the real capital agins tax on average was over 100% for a ocuple of years.

    If inflation is the reason why capital gains are taxed less than regular income, then, why other forms of income are still taxed at regular income rates. For example, if company A offers one of its employees x number of RSUs (Restricted Stock Units). Why are they taxed at income levels when they become vested few years later?

  • ||

    The Federal Reserve System is a private for-profit corporation, no more a part of the Federal Government than Federal Express. The Fed has been, since its creation, the number 1 cause of war, inflation, and economic recessions and depressions. The Federal Reserve and its worldwide counterpart, the IMF, are the single most important issues in contemporary politics. Virtually every other single issue is insignificant compared to the consequences of allowing private interests to print the FIAT currency we are forced to use as 'legal tender for all debts public and private'. When the United States engages in Wars (such as Iraq) the Federal Government borrows money from the Private Bank known as the Federal Reserve. Then Tax payers have to pay this private Bank interest on the money that it never had in the first place, The Federal Reserve is not Federal and has NO reserves; it prints money out of thin air. So basically Americans are paying a private banking monopoly to inflate their currency. Not only that but the laws regarding the Federal Reserve actually PREVENT the Congress from auditing it or ever knowing who it is loaning money to, what the collateral (if any) was put up. Who controls the money makes the rules. And right now the people who are controlling Americans currency are a group completely independent of any oversight what so ever, they are not elected and answer to no one not even the president himself. People who use logic as a guide to rational thought might think this a compelling argument to abolish the Federal Reserve system and restore it with what is already written in law- our Constitution.

  • hmm||

    "Ya. Who needs equities. That whole business thing is overrated and capital is just a myth.

    No one said anything about taxing capital. We are talking about capital gain. So, quit playing the stupid game."

    Let's play, "Name the methods for raising capital as a company."

    Here's a hint. It's not the bond portion of the capital market.

    At least I'm playing.

  • ||

    Andy! Thank God you're here! That explains SO much! I'm surprised no one has ever brought that to our attention 18 thousand other times...

  • cuernimus||

    Capital gains from stock are also taxed twice as a result of corporate taxation, so you'd have to get rid of that before you could say it is fair to tax capital gains as income.

  • Suki||

    Andy sweetie, can you explain a little more?

  • Suki||

    cuernimus,

    Capital gains from stock are also taxed twice as a result of corporate taxation, so you'd have to get rid of that before you could say it is fair to tax capital gains as income.

    Didn't we see that already just before 3:00?

  • cuernimus||

    Looks like it. High Every Body should post less so I can stop skimming through what he says. Or stop posting things of substance, so that I won't miss anything.

  • Kolohe||

    Capital gains from stock are also taxed twice as a result of corporate taxation

    No, this is dividends. The relationship between corporate taxation and capital gains is more indirect.

  • cuernimus||

    Yeah, it's not a direct taxation like dividends, but a corporate tax is going to have a negative impact on long-term stock holdings (not so much short term, though). The key is to never spend the money outside of a duty-free shop, to avoid triple taxation.

  • ||

    Explain to me why the investor who made $10,000 pays 15% while a wage earner like me pays 23% on the $10,000 I was paid.

    On another note, why is Obama a socialist and the tax code suddenly oppressive when the top rate goes from 36% to 39%? I don't remember anyone calling Reagan or Papa Bush socialists when that rate was in effect.

    Now the death tax, show me someone who is passing along over $2 million to their heirs that has paid taxes on that money. It is either stocks, land or a business that has ballooned in value over the years without being taxed. Show me a savings account built with taxed dollars that ever generates a single dollar of death tax when it is passed on. I want smaller government and lower taxes for everyone but if the tax code were as punitive for the rich as some imply then the gap between rich and poor would be shrinking, not GROWING.

  • SomeGuy||

    Perhaps if this video included some sources it would have some relevance.

    Personally, I earn only $22 a year, but I pay 83% of total federal taxes. It's outrageous!

    Remember: 68% of statistics are made up.

  • ||

    I think we should all pay our taxes once a month like we do a cable bill. I bet people wouldn't be too tolerant of taxes then. The problem is that most people don't even pay attention to the amount taken out. It is disgusting.

  • ||

    I have heard that the true size of the National Economy is the amount of money that changes hands.
    Furthermore, I have heard that that amount is in excess of 2 Thousand Trillion annually, at this time, or was, before the current "recession."
    If this is really true, then we could get rid of ALL taxes, and substitute a 2% Transaction Tax that would be paid 1% by each party to a transaction, with NO deductions or exemptions.
    Not for personal, not for business reasons. You spends your moola as you sees fit, and no one else subsidizes you, but, they would not have to.
    If it were collected at the Zip Code level, even on Internet or mail-order purchases, and on pay-rolls, and distributed equally to city (or town), county, state and fed, why, the math says it would get rid of all our problems, equalize us all, provide an environment that would be envied, and we'd pay only 1% on our earnings, and 1% on what we buy.
    Those who currently pay NO taxes think it a horrible idea. I know, they always tell me that.

  • ||

    Just a question
    If 13% of the average Americans yearly income goes to taxes, how can 103 days of work go to taxes? Isn't that more like 30%?

  • Chad||

    Marc | April 10, 2009, 12:48pm | #

    The problem I have with these types of statistics, is the same problem I have with Obama saying he won't raise your taxes if you make less than $250,000 - there are many other taxes other than income tax. The bottom 50% may only pay 1.3% of the income tax, but what about the gas tax?

    Criticizing Obama's tax pledge, then using the same technique when it suits you is rather hypocritical.


    Here is some useful data from the cbo concerning the net federal tax burden on various groups.

    http://www.cbo.gov/ftpdocs/88xx/doc8885/EffectiveTaxRates.shtml

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