1:30 PM PDT
The poor pay no taxes? That's a big surprise to them
Center for Budget and Policy Priorities
A couple of months ago, Media Matters took note of yet another typical bit from the liars at Foxaganda:
On the April 9 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends, after co-host Gretchen Carlson stated that "yesterday we were reporting a story that 47 percent of all Americans don't pay any taxes," Fox Business host Stuart Varney stated: "Yes, 47 percent of households pay not a single dime in taxes. And some of those households actually make a profit from the Treasury." Co-host Steve Doocy asked, "Is that fair."
The message was clear: They're freeloaders. Just a new version of "welfare queen."
Chuck Marr and Brian Highsmith at the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities demonstrate just how utterly bogus that claim is:
The notion that “half of Americans don’t pay taxes” not only overstates the share of households that do not pay federal income taxes in a typical year. It also ignores the other taxes people pay, including federal payroll taxes and state and local taxes. ...
The reality is that the income tax is one of a number of types of taxes that individuals pay, both over the course of their lifetimes and in a given year, and it makes little sense to treat it as though it were the only one that matters. Some 86 percent of working households pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes. In fact, low- and moderate-income people pay a much larger share of their incomes in federal payroll taxes than high-income people do: taxpayers in the bottom 20 percent of the income scale paid an average of 8.8 percent of their incomes in payroll taxes in 2007, compared to just 1.6 percent for taxpayers in the top 1 percent of the income distribution. ...
Low-income families also pay substantial state and local taxes. Most state and local taxes are regressive, meaning that low-income families pay a larger share of their incomes in these taxes than wealthier households do. The bottom fifth of taxpayers paid 12.3 percent of their incomes in state and local taxes in 2010, according to the Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy (ITEP) model. That was well above the 7.9 percent average rate that the top 1 percent of households paid.
Chopping taxes for the wealthy has been a going concern in America for half a century. In the latest installment, a majority of Representatives in the House of Representatives agreed this spring with Rep. Paul Ryan that the top tax rate for the top tier of American billionaires should be the same as it was 85 years ago, 25 percent. Because, you see, the tax burden is just too great on "job creators" and makes America uncompetitive with the rest of the world. In fact, the average tax rate in the countries of the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in the latest year for which data are available, 2008, was 44.8 percent. In the United States, it was 26.1 percent.
But, hey, please do not inject facts into the discussion.
The claim that top income Americans are being crushed by their tax burden is bad enough. It's made worse by the divide-and-conquer-at-the-polls claim that half the country is made up of low-income freeloaders getting a hand-out from the hard-working other half.
But worst of all is that, at a time of spending cuts in programs for Americans with the toughest economic row to hoe, these demonizing claims are being deployed as persuasion for making the tax code ever less progressive. In the name of fairness. In the name of prosperity. In the name of those who prefer not to be named, and who, thanks to Citizens United, don't have to be.