Americans’ Moral Obligation to Pay Taxes – But It’s Limited

Are Americans proud to pay their taxes?  Vanessa Williamson of the Brookings Institute thinks so, after studying survey data and conducting interviews.  She finds that Americans view paying taxes as a civic and moral responsibility, and the price of citizenship.  She believes that “the idea that ‘Americans hate taxes’ has become a truism without the benefit of being true.”  But this rather surface conclusion misses the point.  There is a real distinction between a moral obligation to pay taxes and a legal obligation. Continue reading “Americans’ Moral Obligation to Pay Taxes – But It’s Limited”

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Obamacare Tax Repeal – Favors the Rich? Hogwash!

Today the media reports another tax cut favoring the rich.  The Republicans propose an Obamacare tax repeal.  According to a piece published by CNBC: “The proposed repeal of taxes that were put in place to fund Obamacare would give America’s top earners the biggest tax cut.”  Wow, this “story” is just the latest example of Republicans favoring the rich, indeed the very rich, over the middle class and poor.

Obamacare Tax Repeal

This little tidbit neatly fits into the old Republican tax narrative.  But is this really a story at all?  Let’s understand this, just a little bit.  Obamacare included two primary taxes that affected individual taxpayers.  It imposed a 3.8 percent tax on investment income, and the 0.9 percent increase in the Medicare payroll tax.  These Obamacare taxes applied to individuals earning at least $200,000 per year, or couples earning more than $250,000.  Now the Republicans propose eliminating these two taxes as part of their Obamacare “repeal.”  Let’s stop right here for just a minute.

But These Obamacare Taxes Only Hit the Rich, Right?

You see, something just struck us, and struck us smack in the old kisser. We think the way these Obamacare tax increases worked was that they didn’t hit individuals making less than $200,000 or couples making less than $250,000.  The middle class thankfully never paid a nickel of these taxes. Obama just snagged the wealthy and super-wealthy.  And the wealthier you were, the more you paid.  So, we suppose, there’s just no way for the middle class to get a tax benefit from these repeals, is there?  They paid nothing extra before.  So there’s nothing “extra” to get back.  Did we miss something?

But we can’t let that stand in the way of a great narrative.  The Republicans just always give tax cuts to the rich.  Always.  Yes, that’s right.  And this is just another prime example of them cutting taxes on the wealthy and very wealthy.  Let’s make this look real good: “The top 0.1 percent of earners, those making $3.9 million or more, would . . . see their taxes cut by 2.6 percent, or an average $207,390.”  Now, how’s that sound!

The Whole Truth – Where is It?

So we need to write more headlines like this one. “Top 0.1% of earners would bet a $207,000 tax cut under GOP plan to repeal Obamacare.”

Some of us might call all of this a “half-truth.”  Seems like it is a truthful statement that the tax cuts benefit the wealthy far more than the middle class.  But that statement doesn’t represent the whole truth – the whole story of the imposition of the Obamacare taxes and then their potential subsequent repeal.

It’s back to our vast and continuing disappointment in the good ole media. We’ve written before about the responsibility of reporters and journalists – report the facts.  Please don’t create a narrative.  Let the historians narrate and moralize.  So, Mr. CNBC journalist, next time please tell the “whole” story and keep your personal interpretation away from us.  The whole truth about Obamacare tax repeal.  If you want to express your opinion, or create an impression, then point out that’s exactly what you are doing.  Otherwise, please turn in your Press badge.

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Presidential Candidates Tax Returns: Is Forced Disclosure A Good Idea?

Should presidential candidates be required to disclose their federal income tax returns?  A recent push comes from Republican Senator Lindsey Graham, a critic of President Trump, with the latest Congressional effort to require candidates to do just that.  But is forced disclosure of candidates tax returns a good idea?  On balance, we think not.  Tax returns are poorly equipped to inform the public regarding legitimate issues involving a candidate’s qualifications for the presidency.  Furthermore, the informative value of tax return data is outweighed by its inflammatory impact.  We explain. Continue reading “Presidential Candidates Tax Returns: Is Forced Disclosure A Good Idea?”

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