Saturday, August 8, 2009

Taxing the Rich

Taxprof directs us to a list of Seven Myths About Taxing the Rich published by Curtis S. Dubay of the Heritage Foundation.

The myth I often hear that bothers me most is listed as Myth 2: "The rich do not pay their fair share."

The rebuttal:

"The top 20 percent of income earners pay almost all federal taxes.

"The top 20 percent of all income earners pay a substantial majority of all federal taxes. According to the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), in 2006, the latest year of available data, the top 20 percent of income earners paid almost 70 percent of all federal taxes. This share was 4 percent higher than in 2000, before the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts.

"When only looking at income taxes, the share of the top 20 percent increases even further. In 2006, the top 20 percent paid 86.3 percent of all income taxes. This was an increase of 6 percent from 2000."

I agree it is not accurate to say "the rich don't pay their fair share." Some wealthy people are dishonest and don't pay their fair share, just as are some poor people. The stereotyping of the wealthy as greedy, heartless beings is what I find to be unfair, and tiresome. I concede there are greedy, heartless wealthy people, just as there are greedy, selfish poor people.

As recently posted by the Taxprof, Tax Lawyer, and Tax Foundation, the share of the tax burden borne by the top 1 percent now exceeds the share paid by the bottom 95 percent of taxpayers combined.

Wealthy American citizens who obey the law pay a lot of tax.

Of course, when debating whether the wealthy pay their fair share, the true challenge is in defining what their fair share -- and anyone's - really is. I'd need to do a lot more studying of economics, tax policy, international tax rates, and a host of other topics before I could feel qualified to propose a definitive answer to the question of exactly what is a fair share.

What I would like to claim definitively is that "the rich" are not all bad people who exploit those less fortunate to make a buck. Many "rich people" are honest, hard-working, and generous.

Lest there be any confusion, I can declare without hesitation that I do not fall into the category of rich. But I do know and work with people who are "rich", and I am continually amazed at their success, which has come from hard work and strength of character.

A couple years ago, a smart man told me something very simple: "Successful people make and keep commitments."

Let's stop maligning successful people for being successful. Would we rather have a country full of people who never strive for excellence? I hope not.

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