Letter to the Editor - April 26

April 26, 2011

Michael is wrong: The poor pay plenty of taxes

To the editor:

Poor Americans do pay taxes.

George Michael was wrong to contend in his column (April 15) that many in U.S. are paying no taxes.

He, like the many others who are intent on portraying the poor as selfish freeloaders, distorts the facts.

Gretchen Carlson, the Fox News host, said last year “47 percent of Americans don’t pay any taxes.” John McCain and Sarah Palin both said similar things during the 2008 campaign about the economic bottom half of Americans.

Ari Fleischer, the former Bush White House spokesman, once said, “50 percent of the country gets benefits without paying for them.”

Actually, the poor pay lots of taxes — just not lots of federal income taxes.

Between gas taxes, sales taxes, utility taxes, payroll taxes and other taxes, no one lives tax-free in America.  

Social Security, Medicare and unemployment insurance taxes (known as payroll taxes) are paid mostly by the bottom 90 percent of wage earners. Once the wealthy reach $106,800 of income, they cease to pay into Social Security, though the much smaller Medicare tax applies to all wages. Elimination of the earnings cap on all income of the wealthy would negate any need to cut Social Security benefits or to raise the retirement age. In reality, the payroll tax system is heavily tilted towards the rich.

The Bush tax cuts were heavily tilted toward the wealthy. A household with an income of $40,000 to $50,000 received an average tax benefit of $860, whereas the household with $1 million income received an average tax benefit of $128,832.

In reality, America’s tax system is heavily tilted toward the rich.

As Warren Buffett likes to point out, since most of his income is from dividends, his tax rate is less than that of the people who clean his office.

Earl Jackson
Charles Town, W.Va.

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