Wednesday, June 17, 2009

A little tax jeopardy

The TEA (Taxed Enough Already) parties on April 15, and the continued outrage of the right wing about how much we are taxed disguises some very important facts. I put a number of them together from websites, articles and the like, for a talk recently, and now just want to list a few of them in a Jeopardy format. See how many questions you can answer!

ANSWER: 39.5%, the level it was when Bill Clinton left office.

QUESTION: What does President Obama propose to raise the top marginal tax rate to?


QUESTION: What is the top marginal tax rate now?

ANSWER: 9.1%

QUESTION: How big a bite do federal income taxes take out of the average person’s income?

OK, this is my fantasy and my goal: that everybody could answer these questions quickly and easily. In fact, they could go on to say that even when you add all the other federal levies people pay in addition to income tax, such as payroll taxes for Social Security and Medicare, excise taxes for gasoline, alcohol, tobacco and other items, the combined federal tax rate for most people was 20.7%, which is less than one percent higher than the three decade year low of 19.8% reached in 2003.

(Sources: NYT, Congressional Budget Office, and USA Today)

The problem is not what we pay, which is far less than most other industrialized countries. There is a big problem in how we spend, with half of this money going to support bloody and pointless wars and a bloated military, and, because of said wars, another 20% of the federal budget going to debt service on the national debt. But paying too much tax? I don’t think so. How about inviting our anti-tax friends to this TEA party: Try Emulating Accuracy?

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