Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Time to reassess how (and who) we tax

Now that tax season is behind us it’s time to reflect on the lunacy and the hypocrisy. First the lunacy. The lunacy is who pays income taxes and who doesn’t. We hear all the time that the rich aren’t paying their fair share. According to the Tax Policy Center, the top 20% of wage-earners are paying 87% of the federal income taxes! The top 1% pay 44% of the income taxes! In fact, the effective tax rate of the one-percenters is around 23%. That’s a higher effective income tax rate than any other group, and about seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50%.

When you hear the rich aren’t paying their fair share that is correct. They’re paying far more than their fair share. Here’s another little factoid. Over 45% of American households pay absolutely no income tax. Around 40% not only pay nothing in taxes, they get money “back” through the Earned Income Tax Credit. I say “back” because it’s a misnomer. They didn’t pay anything in. They got a rebate with no bate!

This is something that absolutely has to end. I can almost understand bringing someone’s tax liability to zero — although I think everybody ought to have to pay something — but it’s unconscionable that people get a refund when they don’t fund.

In short, nearly half of American families are not contributing to the general upkeep of this country. It’s an outrage. Furthermore, the so-called rich are footing the bill for nearly 90 percent of it. And the rich aren’t paying their fair share?

Speaking of rich, it’s time for the hypocrisy. Bernie Sanders made $205,271 in 2014. By most people’s standards that’s rich. Yet he paid an effective tax rate of 13.5 percent. Why? Because of deductions. Now, don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing untoward about deductions. I take every single one I’m allowed. However, when you’re bellyaching that the rich aren’t paying their fair share, like Bernie constantly is, and you’re one of the rich? It’s not only wrong to take deductions, it’s immoral.

Remember, the effective tax rate of the one-percenters is 23%. Bernie not only pays far less in taxes in real dollars, he’s 10 points below their rate.

Any time someone starts into this rigamarole of we should pay more in taxes you need to stop them and ask them one question. Do you deduct? Do I what? Do you deduct? Do you take deductions on your income tax? Well, of course I do. Why? Why? Yes, why? Because I’m allowed to by law. But you just said we should pay more in taxes. Yeah? Then why don’t you? Fill out the EZ form and send in your money to the government.

By that point, the person has either awkwardly changed the subject or stormed off. There is no way to stay and fight. The position is indefensible.

But liberal hypocrisy is all around us. There’s a little rag around my parts called The Contributor newspaper. It’s a vehicle to get around panhandling laws. Now instead of bums with signs we have bums with papers. The newspaper is usually spouting off some Occupy Wall Street issue like a $15 minimum wage. So, I offered an open question on the air to the people who run the paper. Do they pay $15 an hour? How about even the current minimum wage? Do they provide health insurance? A 401(k)? Of course, you know the answer to all these questions. No.

Do as I say, not as I do. That has always been the mantra of the left.

Phil Valentine is the host of the award-winning, nationally syndicated talk radio show, 
The Phil Valentine Show.


  1. Phil, Don't you think Harriet Tubman will be the same color on the currency as others .... probably a shade of green !

  2. Mr. Valentine,

    I heard a caller to your show not long ago comment something to the effect that you often take the right stance for the wrong reasons, or something to that effect. I find your comments here to be exemplary of that issue.

    To be clear, I am a member of the top 2 percent, so while I haven't yet made the jump to the elusive top 1 percent, paying as many taxes as I do, I have earned the right to speak toward fairness in taxation, in spades.

    The outrage you have portrayed towards those who pay no taxes would be better served were you to steer away from the issue of fairness in taxation, and aim it towards the real problem we have created. That being that which I would define as social disenfranchisement.

    When we allow over 45% of households to pay no taxes, the issue isn't whether it's fair for those of us who pay tax to make up for it. The real issue is that those who pay no taxes have no vested interest in the country, and at the end of the day, are left without a sense of belonging and they will not ever really have the pride of being part of something larger than they are. When half the country has been disenfranchised from the rest, the ever widening divide we are seeing in the country will simply continue.