LESSONS LEARNED #85: “The rich pay more than their fair share of income taxes to provide tax relief for the poor and middle class.” –Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 29th, 2011

Investors Pay a Lower Tax Rate on Investment Income because Investing is Riskier than Earning Income

There’s a lot of class warfare going on right now.  It’s open season on anyone deemed to be rich.  You have President Obama saying the rich don’t pay their fair share of taxes.  That it isn’t right for Warren Buffett’s secretary to pay her taxes at a lower tax rate than her boss.  Statements like this can be very misleading.  Because Warren Buffett’s secretary pays nothing in tax dollars compared to what Warren Buffett pays.  But it sure fans the flames of class warfare.  Which helps when you want to raise taxes on someone.  (Or get reelected).  Because no one wants their own tax rates to go up.  Just those on others who make more than they do.

Except, of course, Warren Buffett.  And some other millionaire investors.  Who are asking President Obama to raise their taxes.  And he has obliged.  At least, he’s trying.  He wants to implement a millionaire’s income tax.  A little extra from those who can most afford it.  Of course, Warren Buffett won’t pay this millionaire’s income tax.  Because he doesn’t pay income taxes.  He’s an investor.  He pays capital gains taxes.

Investors pay a lower tax rate on capital gains than on income.  Because investing has risk.  Working doesn’t.  You never risk losing your income by working.  But you risk your capital by investing.  Hence the lower rate to encourage this risky behavior.  Investing in others.  Like entrepreneurs.  Some of who strike it rich.  Many more, sad to say, fail.  And investors lose everything they invested.  It’s a risky business for investors.  That’s why when their investments pay off they pay off big.  To cover all of those investments where they lost everything.  Raising tax rates on investors, then, would dissuade investment.  Stop the job and wealth creation these successful  entrepreneurs provide.  And deprive the treasury of all the tax revenue they would have created.

The Rich are Paying a Premium in Taxes for being Successful

Let’s look at some data.  Let’s mine some IRS tax returns.  See who is paying income taxes.  And who isn’t paying their fair share.  Let’s break the numbers down into 4 groups.

The poor and middle class (those earning up to $50,000 per year).  The middle class/upper middle class (those earning from $50,000 to $100,000).  The elite white collar and small business owners (from $100,000 to $500,000).  And the rich (over $500,000).  These breakdowns and labeling is not an exact science.  But it’s close enough for analysis.  Below we’ve graphed both percent of total income.  And percent of total taxes paid.  For each of these groups.  All data is mined from SOI Tax Stats – Individual Income Tax Rates and Tax Shares.  And crunched in an Excel spreadsheet.

These are the rich people.  Note that they pay a larger percentage of total taxes than their percentage of total income.  The red line is always well above the blue line.  On average their share of taxes is 8.54% greater than their share of income for the years graphed.  So the rich are paying a premium in taxes for being successful.

Of particular interest is what happens to the rich during a recession.  At both the early and late 2000s recessions their share of income tanked.  As did their share of taxes.  Their share of total taxes fell some 5% in the early 2000 recession.  With a third or so of all taxes coming from these rich, when they lose money so does the U.S. treasury.  This quickly revised those Clinton projected surpluses into deficits.  And it wasn’t anything George W. Bush did.  This was the fallout from the bursting of the dot-com bubble (it was the irrational exuberance that made all of this wealth and tax revenue in the first place.  That and the Lost Decade in Japan.  Not the Clinton tax rate hikes).  Rich people lost money; rich people paid less taxes.

And speaking of Democrat Bill Clinton, note how the rich got richer when he was president.  Not what you would expect from a Democrat.  The champions of class warfare.  But it is true.  While Bill Clinton was president the rich’s slice of the income pie grew approximately 10.51%.  Gee, I wonder what happened to the poor and middle class during this same time.

White Collar Workers and Small Business Owners have a Tax Share Greater than their Income Share

Now let’s take a look at the elite white collar workers and small business owners.  Management, professionals, doctors, lawyers, entrepreneurs, etc.  Here we see that they, too, pay a larger percentage of total taxes than their percentage of total income.  But not as much.  Their tax premium for success is not as great as it is for the rich.  It averaged approximately 3.42% for the years graphed.

Note that the recession didn’t have as great as an effect on them as it did for the rich.  They don’t have as much to gamble with.  The less risk the less reward.  And the fewer losses.  Besides, with small business owners slow and steady wins the race.  They pour all of their investment capital (i.e., their earnings) into their businesses.  And then work 80+ hours a week to wring out every last dime from that investment.

Some industries weather recessions better than others.  Some just get by.  Conservative by nature, they expand during good times.  But not too much that they can’t sustain the larger size during bad times.  For they aren’t rich enough to absorb large losses during really bad times.  Unlike rich investors.  So their income growth is flatter.  But more steady.

The Middle Class/Upper Middle Class have a Tax Share Less than their Income Share

Now the middle class/upper middle class.  Those earning from $50,000 to $100,000.  Typically those living well while still working for someone else.  Note that their share of the tax burden has been in a decline.  Much like their income.  However bad that is, they do pay a smaller percentage of the total tax than their percentage of total income.  The blue line is above the red line.  In other words, they have a tax discount.  A discount that has averaged 5.33% over the years graphed.

Interestingly, these graphs are almost the mirror image of those earning $500,000 or more.  Particularly strange is that their share of the income increases during times of recession.  Which probably reflects their incomes being a larger percentage of the remaining pie after the rich lose so much during bad economic times.

Did the Poor and Middle Class get Poorer under Bill Clinton?

And now the poor and middle class.  Whose share of the tax burden has also been in decline.  As has been their income.  But they, too, pay a smaller percentage of the total tax than their percentage of total income.  Their tax discount has averaged 6.62% for the years graphed.  Which is even more generous than that given to those earning $50,000 to $100,000.

Remember how the rich got richer under Democrat Bill Clinton?  Well as they got richer the poor and middle class got poorer.  Again, not what you would expect from a Democrat in office.  While Bill Clinton was president the poor and middle class’ slice of the income pie decreased approximately 11.85%.  Can this be true?

When the Rich get Richer the Poor get Fewer in Numbers

Well, yes and no.  If you look at the number of returns filed you find out something interesting.  Not only did income decrease for those earning $50,000 or less, their numbers shrank, too.  To illustrate this we’ve compared the number of income tax returns for our income group breakdowns for the years 1996 and 2000 (the beginning and end of the Clinton years for the data graphed).

There was a net decline of 8.85% of people earning $50,000 or less.  Where did they go?  To a higher income group.  The poorest earners in our breakout decreased in numbers.  While the higher income groups all increased in numbers.  Meaning when the rich get richer the poor get fewer in numbers.  In other words, a rising tide raises all boats.

The Best Way to Raise Tax Revenue is to let Rich People get Rich

So what have we learned?  First of all, the rich pay more than their fair share in taxes.  In fact, they pay a portion of the taxes of those earning less than them.  That is, the rich provide tax relief for the poor and middle class.

So the rich getting richer is good.  The richer they get the larger percentage of the total tax burden they pay.  And the more people they move from lower income groups to higher income groups.  By providing investment capital to entrepreneurs.  Who create jobs.  That give the poor and middle class better opportunity.

And the more jobs the more taxpayers there are.  So you have the rich getting richer and paying more taxes.  And these new employees in higher paying jobs paying more in taxes.

Now that’s good tax policy.  If your goal of tax policy is to raise tax revenue.  And if it is then the best way to do that is to let people get rich.



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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #85: “The rich pay more than their fair share of income taxes to provide tax relief for the poor and middle class.” –Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 27th, 2011

The ‘Rich’ Obama wants to Tax more already Pays the Majority of all Federal Income Taxes

Some people complain that too much wealth is concentrated in too few hands.  And they say that isn’t fair.  But you know what else is concentrated into too few hands?  Federal income taxes.  That is, who pays these taxes.  The top 10 percent of income earners pay about 70% of the taxes.  That doesn’t sound fair.  This 10% paying 70% of the tax bill.  While 90% only pays 30% of the tax bill.  No, this isn’t fair.  But that’s okay.  At least that’s what the 90% think.  I mean, we don’t hear them demanding to pay their fair share of federal income taxes, do we?

Let’s look at some of the numbers.  From 2008 tax returns (see Table 2.  Returns with Modified Taxable Income [1]: Tax Generated, by Rate).

The first thing that jumps out at you is that the poor pay no income taxes.  Only the middle class and rich do.  The biggest income groups of taxpayers are those earning from $100,000 to $200,000.  And from $200,000 to $500,000.

Are these factory workers?  No.  Are these construction workers?  No.  These aren’t blue collar jobs.  These are white collar jobs.  And small business owners.  Currently in the crosshairs of the Obama administration.  Those ‘rich’ people who aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.  People who in fact pay the majority of all federal income taxes.

Those who don’t Pay Income Taxes are Dictating Tax Policy on those who Do

So why is president Obama so vilifying these most generous ‘rich’ people?  Because it’s the largest group of ‘rich’ people whose taxes he can raise.  From the same data let’s take a look at the distribution of income earners.  By looking at the number of actual tax returns filed by each group.

Interesting.  The distribution has shifted down to the lower income groups.  There are very few people earning $1 million or more and yet they pay a substantial amount of the total federal income tax.  While there are a great number of people earning less than $50 thousand who pay little to no federal income tax.

There’s another way to look at these numbers.  One person one vote.  Despite the amount of money you earn.  And the amount of taxes you pay.  Or the lack of taxes you pay.  So in essence what we have is those who don’t pay income taxes dictating tax policy on those who do.  Hence the appeal of class warfare.  Tax the rich?  Raise tax rates on high earners?  A millionaire’s tax?  Absolutely.  As long as I remain in the near 50% of those people who pay no income taxes.

Small Business Owners Earn a lot because they’re both CEO and Investor

There’s yet another way to look at these numbers.  With 70% of all taxes paid by those earning $100,000 or more let’s focus on these people.  We’ve summarized this data here (Taxable Income and Income Tax Generated are in thousands of dollars):

The sweet spot of tax revenue are the people earning from $100,000 to $200,000.  Who pay an effective tax rate of 17.91%.  And a good chunk of these are small business owners.  Who have S corporations.  Where their earnings pass directly to their private income tax return.  That’s why they earn so much.  Because they’re both CEO.  And equity investor.  But they don’t use those retained earnings to live an extravagant lifestyle.  No.  Instead, they use them to grow their business.  And create jobs.

Raising the tax rate on those retained earnings will not help grow these businesses.  In fact, it will prevent these businesses from growing.  And you don’t want to do that.  Because not only do these small business owners pay as much in federal income taxes as all the millionaires do.  They also create the majority of jobs in the American economy.

If you want Tax Policy that will Raise Tax Revenue don’t Raise Tax Rates on Job Creators

Is the purpose of tax policy to raise tax revenue?  Or politics?  When about half of the people pay no income taxes there is definitely a political aspect in taxing the rich.  But exploiting the political capital in the tax code defeats the purpose of the tax code.  Raising taxes.  Let’s look at a simple example.

Everyone agrees that lowering taxes helps businesses more than raising taxes.  That’s why even President Obama extended the Bush tax cuts to prevent a double-dip recession.  So let’s look at some numbers.  Let’s say we make it more business friendly out there.  Cut back on some onerous regulations that cost businesses.  Such as repealing Obamacare. Or some other costly legislation(s).  Not cutting taxes mind you.  Just cutting the costs on the job creators.

If we do this business-friendly deregulation let’s assume businesses respond.  They do well and grow.  And these small business owners earn more income.  So much that about 20% of them move up from the $100,000 to $200,000 income group to the $200,000 to $500,000 income group.  This group pays an effective tax rate of 23.3%.  Federal income taxes would increase approximately $100 billion with this growth in income.  Or an increase of 23.3%.  And that’s without cutting taxes.  Imagine what they could do if did cut taxes.

If you want good tax policy.  If you want tax policy that will raise tax revenue.  Don’t raise tax rates on job creators.  Instead, cut their costs.  Cut the cost of job creation.  Then watch the jobs they’ll create.  And the tax revenue they’ll pay.  Both the small business owners.  And their new employees.



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Obama’s Millionaire Tax won’t Provide Serious Deficit Reduction

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 18th, 2011

Deficit Reduction is Important Enough to Raise Taxes but not Important Enough to Cut Spending

Hmmm, a Democrat deficit reduction package.  I wonder what that could mean. Spending cuts?  Or tax hikes?  Well liberal Democrats like to tax and spend.  And Barack Obama is a liberal Democrat.  So it must be tax hikes (see Obama to offer his own debt reduction package by Jim Kuhnhenn, Associated Press, posted 9/18/2011 on Yahoo! News).

Administration officials see the task of attending to deficits as necessary but not necessarily urgent, compared with the need to revive the economy and increase employment.

What do you know about that?  It’s tax hikes.  What a surprise.

Translation?  It’s important enough to raise taxes to cut the deficit.  But not important enough to cut spending.  In other words, it will be government as usual.  More Keynesian ‘stimulus’ spending.  Which is code for rewarding political friends and allies.  With taxpayer money.  And more class warfare.  Blaming the Obama recession on Republican tactics.  Namely, responsible governance.

The White House signaled its approach Saturday by highlighting a proposal in the president’s plan that would set a minimum tax rate for taxpayers earning more than $1 million.

The measure — Obama is going to call it the “Buffett Rule” for billionaire investor Warren Buffett — is designed to prevent millionaires from using tax-avoidance schemes to pay lower rates than middle-income taxpayers. Buffett has complained that he and other wealthy people have been “coddled long enough” and shouldn’t be paying a smaller share of their income in federal taxes than middle-class taxpayers.

Coddled?  You tell me if we’re coddling these people.

Compare the numbers.  A $60,000 middle class salary pays a current top marginal tax rate of 25%.  That’s somewhere around $11,000 in federal income taxes.  One of these coddled ‘Warren Buffet‘ millionaires may earn $40 million on a half billion dollar investment portfolio.  Taxed at 15% that’s a capital gains tax of $6 million dollars.  So one ‘coddled’ millionaire pays the equivalent of 3,636 middle class taxpayers.

If you look at it this way, rationally, without your head up your keister, you can only arrive at one conclusion.  You don’t want to raise tax rates on the wealthy.  You want to breed them.  With tax policy that encourages the making of more Warren Buffet-class millionaires.

For each new ‘coddled’ millionaire that’s another 3,636 middle class people that could receive significant tax relief.  How?  Lower tax rates across the board.  The middle class pay less.  And more millionaires pay more tax dollars.  The ultimate goal of tax policy.  If you’re not a liberal Democrat, that is.  Whose ultimate goal is, of course, class warfare.  So you can advance policy that is detrimental to the economy.  But beneficial to growing government.  And rewards political friends and allies.  With taxpayer money.

Business Owners Understand their Businesses and Fiscal Policy and are Tiring of being Cash Piñatas

If you’re of the older persuasion you’ve no doubt heard these arguments before.  And after hearing them all these years they don’t fool you anymore.  If you ever were in the first place.  Still, it doesn’t stop them from trying (see Sorry, But The Republican Arguments Against A “Millionaire’s Tax” Are Just Preposterous by Henry Blodget posted 9/18/2011 on Business Insider).

The rest of the Republican counter-arguments are just silly, self-serving, or obstructionist. Let’s take them one by one, ending with the one that seems most persuasive to reasonable people.

“Taxes are a form of theft.”  This is just ridiculous. It’s like arguing that paper money is illegal.

Government is a necessary evil.  Government takes money earned by others.  To pay for public goods.  Everyone understands this.  What people don’t understand is the bastardization of the meaning of public goods.

A public good is a thing that an individual can’t buy.  An individual can’t buy an army and navy to protect himself.  Or herself.  A private individual can’t buy a fresh water and sewage system for himself.  Or herself.  These are public goods.  We pay for these things with taxes.  Everyone pays a little to enjoy the benefits of these massive and costly things.

But we can feed ourselves.  Provide for our own retirement.  Pay for our own healthcare.  We can do these things.  It may be harder for some than others.  But it can be done.  So these things are not public goods.  But government today treats them as public goods.  Taxing us far more than they should.  So they can curry favor with voting groups.

So buying votes with tax dollars may be legal in the strictest sense.  But it is closer to theft than legitimate tax policy.  And printing paper money to fund even more of this spending is generational theft.  A millionaire tax just facilitates more government spending for things government shouldn’t be paying for.

Here is a list of the arguments Blodget says are typically made against raising taxes on millionaires.  Which he goes on to repute.  But I think the arguments speak for themselves.

  • Raising taxes on millionaires will kill their ambition and discourage them from working
  • Raising taxes on millionaires will punish successful people for being successful
  • Raising taxes is always a terrible idea–the problem is spending
  • Taxes are a form of theft: The government has no right to take our money away
  • Raising taxes in a weak economy will further weaken the economy

These are all true.  People like to point to that top marginal tax rate of 1950s when the economy was booming.  But no one paid it.  People hid their earnings in tax shelters to avoid that 90% rate.  Contrary to popular belief on the Left, they didn’t whistle a happy tune and pay it.  They fought it.  And won.  It was a joke.

High taxes do influence rich people.  They will redirect their wealth from income producing.  To wealth preservation.  When tax rates are high.  Just like middle class people do with their 401(k)s.  When they approach retirement.

If a small business earns $1+ million a year, and the owner “passes through” all this income and pays taxes on it, Obama’s “millionaire’s tax” will encourage this owner to do the following:

  • Pay him or herself less
  • Hire more people or otherwise reinvest the money in the business (so it won’t be taxed)

These moves, in turn, should do two things:

  • Help create new jobs (which will help the overall economy)
  • Help grow the owner’s business, thus increasing his or her net worth

Yeah, it could work out like that.  Or it could go another way.  The small business owner can look at this tax policy as a sign that government has no intention of cutting their irresponsible spending.  Which means deficits will only continue to grow.  Which means there will be more taxes in the future.  As there will have to be if they don’t cut spending.  And baseline budgeting keeps increasing that spending every year.  Not to mention all those off-budget spending obligations.

Now business owners live in the real world.  They have to pay payroll taxes with every payroll.  And deal with other taxes and regulatory costs on a daily basis.  They don’t have the luxury of sitting back and prognosticating how tax policy should make business owners behave.  Instead, they’re acting ahead of policy.  They’re listening to this debate and preparing for the worst.  Even before tax policy changes.  Because if they don’t it may be too late when it does.

So this kind of talk is already keeping them from hiring new people.  They are deleveraging left and right.  Because they, unlike government, understand their businesses.  And fiscal policy.  They see what they are to government.  Big, fat cash piñatas.  And they’re tired of being whacked.

They Need to Tax Millionaires because They’re Making Spending Commitments no Amount of Taxation can Sustain

A millionaire tax.  That’s where it starts.  But it’s not where it will end.

People need to understand why government ‘needs’ to tax millionaires.  It’s not because they haven’t been paying their fair share.  It’s because of record deficits.  And record debt.  Caused by record spending.  Just look at the numbers.

Adjusted for inflation, Ronald Reagan‘s largest deficit was $442.614 billion.  George W. Bush‘s largest deficit was $462.56 billion.  In Obama’s first year in office his deficit was $1,416 billion.  In his second year it was $1,294 billion.  They project it to be $1,650 billion in 2011.  And one thing we know about Barack Obama is that he’s not going into the history books as a tax cutter.  So these deficits aren’t from tax cuts.  They’re from spending.

Because of baseline budgeting this spending stays on the books.  And it will only grow.  And all those off-budget spending obligations are growing right along with it.  Such as the trillions the government owes to the Medicare and Social Security trust Funds.  And on top of all of that is Obamacare just waiting to add to our fiscal woes.  This is why they ‘need’ to tax millionaires.  Because the government is making spending commitments no amount of taxation can sustain.  So they will start with millionaires.  Work their way through the middle class.  Then they’ll have no choice but to start rationing benefits.  Followed by austerity.  Then the anarchy comes.  Like in Greece.

This is why we should not add a millionaire tax.  It will not address the spending problem.  And will only facilitate more spending.  Delaying the inevitable day of reckoning.  And making it ever more painful.



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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #75: “Lower income tax rates generate more tax revenue by making more rich people who pay more income taxes.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - July 19th, 2011

The top 1% of Earners pay close to 40% of all Federal Income Taxes

Poor people pay little income taxes.  Rich people pay a lot of income taxes.  Everyone else pays somewhere in between.  The tool to make this happen is the progressive tax system.  Government designed it so that people with more income pay more taxes.   Via progressive tax brackets.  And the current (2010-2011) brackets (for head of household) are:

  • 10% on first $12,150
  • 15% on income from $12,150 – $46,250
  • 25% on income from $46,250 – $119,400
  • 28% on income from $119,400 – $193,350
  • 33% on income from $193,350 – $379,150
  • 35% on income over $379,150

If you earn $8,000 you owe $800.  Simple.  If you earn $83,600 you owe $15,668.  If you earn $450,000 you owe $131,435.  If you earn $2,500,000 you owe $848,935.  See the pattern?  Earn more.  Pay more.  Almost as if you’re penalized for being successful.

Of course, low-income people often don’t pay any federal income taxes.  In fact, a lot of people don’t.  About half.  Thanks to tax credits, deductions and exemptions.  But when you’re a rich CEO earning a multimillion dollar salary there aren’t enough tax credits, deductions and exemptions to avoid your taxes.  That’s why the top 1% of earners pay close to 40% of all federal income taxes.  Something we should thank them for.  Instead of demonizing them.

The higher the Top Marginal Tax Rate is the more the Rich avoid paying Income Taxes

There are no Mom and Pop hardware stores anymore.  The big box home improvement stores like The Home Depot, Lowe’s and, for those of you old enough to remember, Builder’s Square put them out of business.  Because of greedy consumers like you.  And me.  Who want to get the best value while shopping.  And if we can buy something of equal quality at a lower price we do.  We work hard for our money.  We spend it carefully.  Wisely.  And we don’t pay more for something when we can get the same for less elsewhere.

It’s the same for rich people.  When they shop.  And when they invest their wealth.  Or their ability.  They look at their options.  Create a new business?  Work at an established business?  If you’re highly skilled you can earn a lot of income.  Which rich people take into consideration.  But there are costs.  Payroll taxes.  Employee compensation and benefits.  Compliance and regulation costs.  And, of course, the progressive tax system.

The higher the top marginal tax rate the less incentive they have to start or run a business.  The less incentive they have to create jobs.  And the more likely they won’t start or run a business.  Instead they’ll invest their money and pay the simpler and (so far) lower capital gains tax.  And this is what happens.  The higher the top marginal tax rate is the more the rich avoid paying income taxes, leaving the middle class to pick them up.  Just like you avoided that Mom and Pop hardware store on your way to The Home Dept.  And with an abundance of government debt available, the rich can invest and live on interest.  Sitting on the sidelines.  Watching the rest of us struggle to find a job.

You don’t need Employees to live on Interest Income

So, the progressive tax system is a way to make rich people pay more.  To transfer the tax burden to them.  And it does.  To a point.  But if you try to tax them too much they’ll just drop out of the economy.  And take their jobs with them.  Which is a double whammy.  We lose some of that generous 40% of income taxes they pay.  And we lose who knows how many thousands of jobs.  And taxpayers.  Thus transferring the burden the other way.  Away from the rich.  To those less able to afford it.

The progressive tax system is supposed to make paying taxes easier on the poor.  The less you earn the less you pay, leaving you with more money for the necessities of life.  Whereas the rich can afford to pay more so they do.  But a flat tax is a progressive tax, too.  The more you earn the more you pay.  For example, going to a 15% flat tax, our sample earners above would change their taxes owed as follows:

  • $8000:  $800  →  $1,200
  • $83,600:  $15,668  →  $12,540
  • $450,000:  $131,435  →  $67,500
  • $2,500,000:  $848,935  →  $375,000

It’s still progressive.  And, yes, the rich will pay less individually.  But there will be more of them.  For this lower income tax rate changes the dynamic.  It will be more profitable to get off of the sidelines and get back into the economy.  Because a flat 15% income tax rate will beat or equal the capital gains tax.  And the profit from creating or running a business will blow away the earnings on a portfolio of treasury bonds.

Better still are the jobs.  You don’t need employees to live on interest income.  But you need them to run a business.  More jobs mean more taxpayers.  So more rich people are back in the economy earning income and paying income taxes.  And more employees are working.  That’s more payroll taxes.  And more personal income taxes.  In the end, the numbers win.  More jobs.  More GDP.  And more federal tax receipts.

Keeping People Poorer and more Dependent on Government

If the goal of government tax policy is to raise tax revenue, the logical thing to do would be to design a tax code that creates more rich people.  A lower top marginal tax rate does this.  So does a flat tax.  Such a tax policy will create incentives to earn income instead of living on capital gains from investments.  Each rich person will pay less income tax individually but there will be far more of them paying income taxes overall.  And they will create jobs.  The more jobs there are the more payroll taxes and personal income taxes there are.

History has shown that cutting tax rates has done just that.  The Mellon tax cuts of the 1920s.  The JFK tax cuts of the 1960s.  The Reagan tax cuts of the 1980s.  The Bush tax cuts of the 2000s.  So if the record shows that lower tax rates produce more tax revenue, why are we always trying to raise the top marginal tax rates?  Simple.  Politics.

Being in politics is the closest you can get to being part of an aristocracy in the United States.  Unless you’re born a Kennedy.  Whether its ego or the graft, people aspire to be in the privileged few.  Life is better there.  If you have no talent or ability.  Other than being able to tell a pretty good lie.  So you use class warfare to get the masses to support you.  And the progressive tax system.  Which keeps people poorer and more dependent on government.  Like it used to be in the old days when there was an aristocracy.



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FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #62: “The government’s great dilemma is that the middle class has both the money and the votes.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - April 19th, 2011

Figures don’t Lie but Liars Figure

Mark Twain said figures don’t lie but liars figure.  And there’s been a lot of that going around.  Lying.  Especially about taxes.  Where the rich just can’t catch a break.  They pay far more tax dollars than the poor/middle class.  Yet you wouldn’t know that based on the political rhetoric coming from the Left.  And the incessant drive to raise the top marginal tax rates.  To make the rich pay their ‘fair’ share.  Or punish them.  For being rich.  So we can lower the tax burden on the little guy.  The working class people struggling to put food on the table for their families.

Of course, anyone taking the time to crunch the numbers, or read a history book, will see something completely different.  And that the Left can only advance their agenda by lying.  Because people with a job want to keep their job.  And they see the Left’s agenda as anti-business.  And job killing.  Anytime you hear government talk about being ‘fair’ look out.  Chances are you are about to be screwed.  For their idea of fairness and equality is truly Orwellian.  The Left’s idea of equality is when they are more equal than everyone else.

So they champion the poor/middle class.  Say they are looking out for their interests.  But they’re not.  They just want their money.  And their votes.  So they’ll say whatever they think they want to hear.  Anything to maintain their positions in government.  The ruling elite.  And one of their most effective tools is class warfare.  At the heart of which is tax policy.

Taxing the Rich Transfers Tax Burden to the Middle Class

There is a fundamental misunderstanding about tax policy in America.  Everywhere, really.  You see, they’ve beaten it into our heads that the way to get the rich to pay their fair share is to increase their tax rates.  You do that and you transfer the tax burden from the poor/middle class to the rich.  The funny thing is, though, when you raise the tax rates on the rich the exact opposite happens.  You transfer the tax burden from the rich to the poor/middle class.  How can this be, you ask?  Well, let me explain.

Consider two income examples.  Someone who makes $50,000 per year.  And someone who makes $1,000,000 per year.  Based on the 2008 tax tables (with a top marginal rate of 35%), the federal income tax each pays is approximately $16,980 and $454,000, respectfully.  Now, what do you notice about these numbers?  That’s right.  The $454,000 is a lot bigger than the $16,980.  It’s over 26 times the amount of taxes the person earning $50,000 pays.  Now think about that.  If only one more person becomes a millionaire (let’s say an entrepreneur quits his day job and creates the next great invention), the government will collect the same amount in taxes it would take from 26 new $50,000/year jobs added to the economy.  Let’s say 2 venture capitalists strike it rich and both become millionaires.  They would add the same tax revenue it would take 52 new $50,000/jobs to generate.  Three new millionaires = 78 new $50,000 jobs worth of taxes.  See a pattern?  The more millionaires there are paying taxes the less the poor/middle class have to pay in taxes.  Or, conversely, the fewer millionaires are paying taxes the more the poor/middle class have to pay.  So the more millionaires there are paying taxes, the more the tax burden transfers from the poor/middle class to the rich.

Well, based on that, the best thing we can do for the poor and middle class is to make as many millionaires as possible.  And how do you do that?  It’s pretty easy.  Sort of like a dog having puppies.  They already know how to do it.  They don’t need any special help.  All they need is for us to get out of their way.  And give them a business-friendly environment.  Where a small business owner will risk his or her life savings on that business to get rich.  Or a venture capitalist will risk his or her money on an untried entrepreneur with a really good idea to get rich.  And how do you get people to take risks and invest large sums of money?  By giving them a chance to get rich in the process.  And you don’t do that with high tax rates.  Because high tax rates increase the ‘cost’ of these investments.  And when the cost gets too high, they look for other things to do with their money.  If the return on investment is taxed to the point that they can make the same return without any risk, they won’t take any risk.  And just leave their money in the bank.

The more Millionaires we have the Less Taxes the Middle Class Pays

Of course this all makes good sense.  But bad politics.  Especially on the Left.  For they are all about fairness and redistribution of wealth on the Left.  And you can’t be fair and redistribute wealth unless you demonize the rich.  Because you have to take wealth from someone before you can redistribute it.  And who has wealth?  Why, the wealthy, of course.  Who are greedy.  Who don’t pay their fair share of taxes.  And profit by exploiting the poor/middle class.  Or so goes the liberal mantra.  So to show how much they care for the poor/middle class, they try to raise taxes on the rich.  By constantly trying to raise the top marginal rates.  Of course, as noted above, doing this actually hurts the poor/middle class.  By making them pay a much larger share of the total tax burden than the rich pays.  Let’s look at some numbers.

We keep hearing about this evil 1% who has the majority of the wealth in this country.  So let’s look at this by the numbers.  One percent is one in one hundred.  So let’s assume we have 100 taxpayers.  One millionaire who earns $1,000,000 per year.  Twenty ‘poor’ people earning $15,000 per year.  And 79 ‘middle class’ people earning $50,000 per year.  Based on the 2008 tax tables, the annual income tax each owes (going from poor to rich) is approximately $4,500, $17,000 and $454,000.  Their total tax contributions (in the same order) are approximately $91,000, $1,342,000 and $454,000.  Or, as a percent of the total, 4.8%, 71% and 24%.  Please note that it’s the middle class that pays the bulk of the tax burden (71%).  Even though they each pay only a fraction of what the millionaire pays.  Because one millionaire can pay only so much.  But the ‘fraction’ 79 middle class people pay adds up.  The sum total of their taxes equals approximately three times what that millionaire pays.  Which proves the point that the fewer millionaires there are the more the poor/middle class has to pay in taxes.

Now let’s say nine people prospered very well and moved from the middle class to the rich.  There are still 20 ‘poor’ people.  But with the 10 people that now earn $1,000,000 per year, there are now only 70 middle class people earning $50,000 per year.  This changes the total tax contributions (going from poor to rich) to approximately $91,000, $1,187,000 and $4,538,000.  Or, as a percent of the total, 1.6%, 20.4% and 78%.  Now the rich are paying the vast majority of all taxes (78%).  Which proves the point that the more millionaires there are the less the poor/middle class have to pay in taxes.

Figures don’t Lie but Liberals will Figure

Well, sure, you can use all your facts and figures to show things that make sense.  But making sense doesn’t necessarily apply in politics.  Because tax policy is a lot more than just funding the government.  It’s about winning elections.  And the one great dilemma in all of politics is this.  The people with the most money to tax are in the middle class.  Because of their numbers.  They may pay less per person than the rich but their numbers add up.  And they are the largest voting bloc.  Because of their numbers.  Which presents quite the problem.  Politicians want their money.  But if they take too much of it they may lose their votes.  So what to do?  You take their money.  While making it look like you’re punishing the rich.

The more government spends the greater this problem gets.  Deficits grow larger.  Which adds to the national debt.  Interest payments on that debt take up an ever larger part of the federal budget.  Add that to out of control growth of entitlement spending and what do you get?  A big problem.  And greater deficits.  Which are getting harder and harder to finance.  Soon you’re borrowing money to pay your borrowing costs.  You need cash.  Or you need to cut spending.  And you know you’re not going to do that.  Because cutting spending doesn’t help win elections.  So you look for more cash.  And you can’t go the easy route and just create more millionaires.  Not after demonizing them so much.  Doing that would be tantamount to saying you were wrong and/or lying all these years.  Besides, the anti-business environment currently in place doesn’t encourage any risk taking by the rich.  So they’re sitting on their money.  Which leaves the middle class.  So we start hearing code words.  Fair share sacrifice.  Tax the rich.  It’s not fair to give millionaires and billionaires tax breaks paid by the poor and middle class.  This means the poor/middle class is about to get screwed.  Either by higher taxes (or reduced tax breaks and credits).  Or they’re going to raise the top marginal tax rates which will transfer more of the tax burden from the rich to the poor/middle class.

Of course, screwing the poor/middle class is what it’s all about.  The Left uses them.  All of the time.  Through lies and deceit.  For our lives would be better if we had a lot more millionaires.  And less progressive tax rates.  That encouraged more economic activity.  And created more jobs.  But the liberal left could care less about that.  Based on the evidence.  And history.  When they run for office they run as moderates.  Because they know they can’t win elections running as liberals.  Barack Obama was the most liberal senator in the Senate.  Yet when he ran some were comparing him to Ronald Reagan.  And you only lie like that for one reason.  To hide who you really are.  Tax and spend liberals.  Who have made the middle class the bank for their tax and spend policies.

So while figures don’t lie, liberals will figure.



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LESSONS LEARNED #36: “Politicians oppose across the board tax cuts because they are not politically expedient.” -Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - October 21st, 2010

No King Ever Ruled Without the Consent of Money

There were kings.  And there were wealthy landowners.  Kings may have been sovereign.  But the wealth lies with, as you may guess, the wealthy landowners.  Kings needed money.  Because doing king ‘things’ got expensive.  War, armies, navies, festivals, feasts, castles, palaces, churches, etc., were very expensive.  So kings taxed their subjects to raise the money they needed to be king.  And when it came to money, the vast majority (i.e., the peasants) had little.  It was the peasants’ landlords who had the money.  And it was they who paid the bulk of the taxes.

But it was a two-way street.  Because it was their money, they, the wealthy landowners, had a say in how the king spent that money.  This was a restraint on the king’s power.  There were laws to protect the property rights of these landlords.  Now.  And in the future.  Property owners could pass their property on to their heirs.  As well as their political standing with the king.  Thus the rich and landed aristocracy passed on both their property and their nobility through inheritance.  Thus kings and Nobility lived by the consent of the other.  And they each lived by the consent of money.

The Roman emperors spent so much money near the end of the Roman Empire that they brought their advanced civilization to an end.  The landed aristocracy survived, though.  They just served a different sovereign.  The masses (i.e., the poor peasants) still worked the land.  The landlords still held the wealth.  Kings would come and go but this way of life (feudalism) remained.  Kings ruled as long as the landed aristocracy didn’t object too much.  Which they did in England in 1215.  The landed aristocracy met King John on the field of Runnymede.  Seeing his power was not absolute, the king reluctantly set his seal to the Magna Charter.  Constitutional monarchy would reign in England.  And England would reign supreme in the Old World.  And in the New World.

No Taxation Without Representation

The constitutional monarchy that developed consisted of the Crown and a bicameral Parliament.  The two houses of Parliament represented the needs of the few (the House of Lords) and the many (the House of Commons).  Thus the needs of the one (the sovereign), the few (the rich) and the many (the not rich) were balanced against each other.  It was a pretty good system.  The best in its time.  An English citizen had a better and more comfortable life with greater liberty than citizens of most other countries.

This liberalism unleashed a flurry of economic activity.  It created an empire.  International trade exploded.  England became a leader in farming and agriculture.  This knowhow spread throughout her empire.  As did her representative government.  Which they established in their North American colonies.  Perhaps a bit too firmly.  With the costs of world war came the need for higher taxes.  The British had just defeated the French and took possession of all their possessions in North America.  Her English subjects there were now free from French aggression.  And Parliament wanted these subjects to pick up a large part of that war tab.

Well, this didn’t go over well in the colonies.  For they had no representation in Parliament.  They had their own representative governing bodies in the colonies.  But they were subject to royal governors appointed by Parliament.  Without a vote in Parliament, they had no say in matters of taxation.  This was very un-English.  For the English nobility consented to taxation in exchange for having a say in how the king would spend those taxes.  As the landed aristocracy protested in 1215, the Americans protested this taxation without representation.  Eight war years later and America left the mother country.  Another few years later they ratified the Constitution and created the United States of America.  Which came to be because a governing body violated the sacred covenant between a king and his subjects.  A king may only rule as those who pay the kingdom’s taxes approve.

Universal Suffrage Increases Our Suffering

Because the new American government taxed property owners, property ownership was a requirement to vote.  In other words, those with the most to lose (those paying the taxes) had a say in how the government spent their taxes.  It kept the government honest.   By limiting the vote to those who had ‘skin in the game’ it made it hard for government to build palaces for themselves.  Because there was a direct connection between the source of funding and what that funding was used for.  The government may persuade the tax-paying voter for the need for a national postal system.  But a palatial palace was a much harder sell to the one footing the bill.  Especially when that person would never enjoy its benefit.

Such a system led to responsible government.  It minimized political corruption.  And if there is anything a politician doesn’t like it’s this.  They like corruption.  They thrive on it.  It’s their raison d’être.  And this responsibility thing just didn’t cut it.  They need people to vote who have no skin in the game.  People they can buy.  So they can live the good life.  Like in days of old.  Enter universal suffrage.  Where a politician can promise people other people’s money.

Wait a minute, you mean I can have a say in how other people spend their money?  Sweet.  Gimme gimme gimme.  I me mine.  Tax the rich.  Health care is an entitlement.  I mean, as long as someone else is paying, I’m for sale.  Promise me whatever I want and I will vote for you.  And forget what Benjamin Franklin warned us about: 

When the people find they can vote themselves money, that will herald the end of the republic.

Money Talks; Egalitarianism Walks

It probably started with Martin Van Buren.  Creator of the Democrat Party.  He created the party machine.  Patronage.  Payoffs.  And buying votes.  Dirty, filthy politics began with him.  And the Democrat Party.  Beginning with the campaign for Andrew Jackson, politics have gotten worse ever since.

It’s about the money now more than ever.  With the power to tax, government has a near unlimited source of money.  And with it they can get power.  By promising money to people that don’t have money.  Lots of it.  Thanks to universal suffrage, they can bus as many poor, indigent and government-depended people to the polls as possible.  And the more of them the better.  For they will vote for whoever promises to give them the most free stuff.  And why not?  They have no skin in the game.

And by voting themselves a permanent entitlement, they will make themselves a permanent underclass.  Where they will remain poor, indigent and government-depended.  As government spending continues to grow unchecked, it will push people down the economic ladder until the middle class disappears.  There will be only the rich (the government and the government-connected).  And the poor.  Just like in days of old.  Which is the goal of our tax policy.  You see, across the board tax cuts do not enhance the dependency-power relationship.  But targeted tax cuts do.  That’s why Big Government favors a complicated tax code.  It enhances the dependency-power relationship.  That empowers Big Government.  Throws egalitarianism out the window.  And makes life good for the ruling elite.



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