Monday, March 23, 2009

Cause I'm the Taxman

(with apologies to the Beatles)

I'm hearing a lot about how Obama's gonna "tax the rich." To which I reply, "so?"

When you think about it, the folks who have been hit hardest by all the taxes we currently have are the poor. Social Security is now running around 6.2%. So, no matter how many kids you have, 6.2% of your income goes to Social Security and 1.45% to Medicare. Once you hit $106,800, the Fed stops taxing that income for Social Security. To illustrate it with a number, someone making $100,000 per year, they will pay $7,650.00. Someone making $200,000 would pay $9,521.60. The AIG folks who received a $1,000,000 bonuses for fixing the mess they made would pay $21,121.60. So, someone making 5o times what a garment worker in Soho makes, only pays 2.1% of their income in Social Security and Medicare taxes, while the garment worker pays 8.65% of their income. Doesn't seem fair, does it?

After that it's sales tax. And sales tax in Washington State, King County, runs around 9%. So anything other than unprocessed food is going to cost you 9% more of everything you buy. For poor people, that's not as much, but still.

Then there's fuel taxes. Poor folks tend to buy older cars that have poor gas mileage, so they buy more fuel (and create more pollution) than their wealthier counterparts. And fuel taxes are collected to pay for road repairs and bridge and tunnel maintenance. Except that we haven't been paying for those things, except for maybe the occasional pothole.

And there's the Estate Tax (known to the Republicans as the Death Tax). Enacted originally in 1916 (same time as Income Tax) it tends to affect a very small percentage of families in the United States, and since 1987, it affects less than three-tenths of one percent of all estates in any given year. It provides for approximately one percent of the federal revenue. What if we brought it all the way back, but exempted estates worth less than $15 million?

Now, there are some new proposals that worry me. Since people are trying to buy more fuel-efficient cars, the gas tax isn't creating the revenue they would normally see, so they're now talking about a mileage tax, and the way a mileage tax would work... Well, would you like the government knowing how far you've gone, and where to? Didn't think so.

So what's the solution? Tax the rich a little more, use the taxes to construct new infrastructure and to finance a new generation of industries, such as mass transit and research into renewable resource energy systems. Then you get a lot more paid middle-class workers paying regular taxes into the revenue of the federal government. We may have to deficit spend for a while to do this, but hopefully it will be worth it.

Get people educated, give them the opportunity to be the leaders of tomorrow, and maybe we have a country I can be proud of again, and not the potential Third World, plutocratic cesspool we're slowly sinking into.

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