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Your Take: Why Half of Americans Pay No Income Tax

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After talking about how half of Americans don’t pay any income tax, CNN took a quick look at the reasons why. They don’t go into greater detail but basically they pointed to all the various tax benefits available. The Tax Policy Center said that for 2011, 46% of households ended up owing nothing in federal taxes, up from 40% before the recession. When you think about it, the standard deduction is $5,950 for individuals and $11,900 for married filing jointly. Additionally, you get a $3,700 exemption for each person in your household. A family of four would get $14,800 in exemptions plus a $11,900 deduction for $26,700 in income exempt from tax. The poverty threshold for a family of four is $22,350.

That said, the reality is that $23,700 is not a lot for a family of four to survive on. That’s less than $2,000 a month for four people. While I understand the need for fairness, I don’t think our society benefits from taxing folks who may be barely scraping buy. That said, our world isn’t fair but I’d like it to be stable, so as someone who makes more than $26,700, I’m happy paying taxes. I’m happy paying more than the average amount in taxes even if I believe the government is using it inefficiently.

What do you think about all this?

{ 109 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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109 Responses to “Your Take: Why Half of Americans Pay No Income Tax”

  1. Spot on. I don’t know why more people aren’t shouting this from the rooftops anytime pundits complain about people “who pay no Federal income taxes.” It’s because THEY MAKE NO MONEY.

    Yet the still pay sales taxes, tolls, government fees, fines and violations and other sources of government revenue.

    • Heather says:

      I agree. The amount of fees, sales taxes, etc. that people pay to the government is a really significant percentage of peoples income, lower down on the income scale.

      • Matt says:

        But you can avoid paying those taxes or fees if you don’t spend money or drive, some states don’t charge sales tax on groceries. It is purely a choice.

        • Jim says:

          I don’t agree that it’s that much of a choice but I also don’t think it’s fair to point to those taxes and say “see? they pay taxes!” because everyone pays them.

          • Q says:

            Consumption tax, not income. Then everyone pays, fairly. I’m a huge proponent of eliminating an income tax system for a consumption based system. This is not to be confused w an income tax system coupled w a consumption system, nor VAT. Better buying power. I know its not that simple, but it deserves a shake.

    • Jerry Chin says:

      When everyone talks about a consumption tax/ VAT tax, I really wonder if they understand the consequences to the US economy. Increasing the current sales tax, which is around 9% where I live in NYC, to something closer to the 20% in Canada or even 25% in some European nations would absolutely devastate the American consumer economy, which makes up 75% of the overall economy. Do people understand that the reason why foreigners come to the US to purchase goods is because sales taxes make buying an ipad or a simple sandwich incredibly expensive in their home countries? The reason why the US has strongest consumer based economy in the world is because we have low sales taxes. We do not want to turn our economy into Canada where you have to head south of the border to buy clothes for back to school shopping. hmmm…Americans going to Mexico to buy shoes for the kids…that would be funny…but it wouldn’t be good for our economy.

      Tax policy is about encouraging certain behaviors and discouraging others. Our current system has encouraged consumerism for all its positives and ills and discouraged earned income to some extent. This might not be “fair” to certain individuals but I think we are more likely to tweek the current system than to completely scrap it for a consumption tax system.

      oh of course I’m biased since my business depends on people needing my trusted advice on how to lower their income tax bill. So don’t you be taking money out of my mouth by advocating for a consumption tax :)

  2. Ray says:

    There was a video a month ago regarding this, they considered the effects of swapping income tax for a land tax. Their argument was it doesn’t really make sense to tax people for trying to make a living.

    It address several key topics like the housing bubble and how those with high income earners pay little income tax, by strategically taking capital gains instead.

    http://vimeo.com/38500767

  3. Kevin says:

    Fair points – I certainly don’t mind paying fair taxes, but imagine the extra money that government would have at it’s disposal to spend on worthwhile endeavors if there was less “waste” in government projects. As the old saying goes: A penny saved is a penny earned.

  4. Matt says:

    Everyone should pay an income tax, having half the U.S fund the entire federal government is not fair. They could have a 5% tax rate for under $40,000, but everyone should pay something.

    • Scott says:

      You are referring to half the US population, not half the US income. What this article is saying is that 50% of the population makes way less than 50% of the income. Taxing them at something like 5% will generate so little revenue for the government that it’s not worth the time and paperwork it will take to set it up.

      • John says:

        I absolutely agree, Scott.

        • Matt says:

          It would generate substantial money when your talking about over 100000000 people, and no it wouldn’t be to hard to set up. We would just take it out of there paycheck, like we do now, and not give it all back at the end of the year.

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        I should not cost the government much to set up, as most of these people have to file their taxes anyway.

  5. ChimChim says:

    Income taxation is unconstitutional! Its absolutely ridiculous that Big Brother forces us to pay based on our livelihood. Taxation should be based on consumption where EVERYONE pays. If you consume goods and services, then you pay – Period. This will nearly eliminate those individuals who evade taxes and the IRS can be downsized and refocused on corporations and small businesses.

    Income taxation is slavery. If you do you pay, they the government seizes your assets and your freedom.

    Best

    • Scott says:

      I assume you live in Alaska, Florida, Nevada, South Dakota, Texas, Washington, or Wyoming? Those states have no income tax.

      If you don’t like the federal income tax here, then I advise you to move to another country. Just avoid anywhere really nice like Scandanavia because their income taxes are way more than ours.

      • Texas Wahoo says:

        Plus they have extremely high alcoholism rates…

      • ChimChim says:

        Living in Zurich, Switzerland now but returning to US soon. I am not against paying taxes; however, they should not be based on how much money an individual earns.

        In Switzerland, income taxes are quite low and the standard of living is far above the US. Zurich, I believe possesses the highest tax rate in Swiss and they city remains the most expensive in the world. Zurich beat Tokyo for the top spot this year as the most expensive city.

        Its crazy, most goods are 4-5 times higher in Zurich compared to US. A basic lunch will cost you 26 CHF for a sandwich and drink unless you go to McDonalds and pay 12 CHF for a Big Mac and fries…

    • Aaron B says:

      The 16th Amendment looks pretty straight-forward to me: The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

      Been on the books 99 years now.

      • ChimChim says:

        Sorry that you are brainwashed…

        • Shirley says:

          Passed by Congress on July 2, 1909, and ratified February 3, 1913, the 16th amendment established Congress’s right to impose a Federal income tax.

          http://www.ourdocuments.gov/doc.php?flash=true&doc=57

          This document settled the constitutional question of how to tax income and, by so doing, effected dramatic changes in the American way of life.

        • Jim says:

          I suppose it’s easy to counter someone’s argument by saying they’re brainwashed, much harder to actually use facts to prove your point. Try not paying your taxes, see how the law responds. :)

        • Jerry Chin says:

          aaahhh, another tax protester. I’m a professional tax preparer, and I can tell you from experience that everyone says “I hate the IRS” “They are illegal” “I shouldn’t pay my taxes” until I explain to them what the consequences are for not submitting to the “man” and filing and paying your taxes on time. The IRS takes tax protesters deadly serious. Maybe some people are right that the IRS acts like an criminal organization. But just like the mafia, they have incredible power to destroy people’s lives if they do not submit to their rule. This power is granted by the 16th Amendment as Aaron states correctly. So unless you want to throw out the whole Constitution including things you might enjoy like freedom of speech and freedom from unwarranted search and seizure, just bite your tongue, submit to the powers that be and pay your taxes. It’s much cheaper in the long run to pay your taxes, then to not pay your taxes. Trust me, many of my clients have found out the hard way.

    • pghfan says:

      have the IRS focus on small business ?- they already do. that is MY income so why is it ok to come after me?

  6. tom says:

    I completely agree with Matt. Let’s do away with all credits and deductions and everyone pays something. Our tax code could be simple and we could generate more revenue.

    I’m not even opposed to a progressive tax as long as everyone pays something.

    • pghfan says:

      agree- but no EIC either

    • Scott says:

      But (sarcastically) if we simplify the tax code, won’t we lose jobs at the IRS, H&R Block, Jackson Hewitt, and other places that make money off tax preparations and filings? ;-)

  7. Kevin says:

    IF you are so happy paying taxes then please write a bigger check!! Pay even more than you owe, but don’t ask the government to take more from me just because, I made good choices in life. Studied hard in school, worked two jobs and attended school at night to pay my way through and served my country in the Military to get college money!!

    I am sick and tired of everyone saying ohhh they don’t make any money!! I ask why is it that I stand behind these people paying with food stamps at the grocery store, all the while they have a nice new cell phone, are smoking cigarettes. Then they go outside and drive a nice car with expensive wheels!!!

    Please!!! Most, not all, but most of these people are gaming the system and if you believe otherwise you are kidding yourself! I help those in need, I donate money and help everyone that “I” can and dare say I do a better job at it than the government does!

    We are taught to study hard and succeed in life, and the second you finally make it through years of hard work and sacrifice, I am told I need to pay more to support these lazy people!!! You want to pay more fine DO IT!! But stop acting like these people are soooo bad off, they are that way by choice!! Most everything in life comes down to a choice, a good choice or a bad one. I realize some people have medical conditions etc… not talking about them just the other 99% that are simply LAZY or have made bad choices all their lives. Sorry, got to school and make something of yourself and stop popping out babies out of wed lock just to get a bigger check!

    • Diane says:

      “We work on ourselves in order to help others, but also we help others in order to work on ourselves.” ~Pema Chodron

      Judging others creates hate- helping others creates love. Always error in the name of love.

    • TomM says:

      I agree Kevin….go to many of these peoples houses that are paying no federal income taxes and what you’ll see is…..big screen TV, multiple cell phones, cable TV, nice new car…..etc. Things that if you were really in poverty you certainly would not have. This countries thinking is so out of wack now with felling bad for these supposedly poverty stricken people that I don’t know if we’ll ever make it back to good old common sense….the stuff that made this country great!

      Don’t get me wrong there is poverty but, again, go to most of these peoples houses and you’ll be surprised at the stuff they have that the 50% that are paying taxes don’t have.

    • David M says:

      Kevin,

      If you ever need any kind of service or payment from the government – I hope you do not take it – it would be beneath you.

      • Kevin says:

        I don’t think you read my post, I really believe there are people that need help and they should get it. But I do believe we need means testing, and drug testing to weed out all the loser’s that are bleeding the system dry! Surely you are not that far gone in your land of Utopia that you can’t see that the system is broken?

        We need a fair/flat or even better a consumption tax that way everyone pays period! It is really quite humorous to read some of your comments, are you really that drunk off the koolaide??

        Please…

        Name me one Government program that is not completely full of waste or that does not operate at a loss or in the red? Yes we need Government for certain things but just open your eyes, do you think for one second these politicians actually want to help these people??? They just want to keep them needy so they can get a vote, vote for me or I will take away your government check!! Man you sure do need a wake up call…

        • Bob says:

          I agree with Kevin 100%. There HAS to be some personal accountability come into play. The way the system is set up now is the more irresponsible you are the more you will be rewarded. How many welfare families have 4,5,6 or more kids? I’m sure they were broke when they had the first kid yet they keep popping them out and the government just gives them more $$$$ for each one they produce. Free housing,free food,free cab rides to get to the doctor for the FREE HEALTH CARE. It HAS to stop but sadly as long as this system is in place it NEVER will. We are screwed.

          • Scott says:

            Free housing – have you seen where people live who are on welfare? Free food – have you seen what quality of food welfare can buy? Free health care – we all have it, really… walk into a hospital with your arm bleeding and they must help you or face negligence lawsuits, whether you have insurance or not. Final question – have you actually ever talked to anyone (face to face) that is on welfare?

          • Jerry Chin says:

            Scott, great comments on Bob’s animosity towards the supposed welfare state. Bob feels the “those people” are getting one over while people like himself are hard working decent Americans. I don’t mean to sound like a bleeding heart but if people who have animosity towards others they don’t know actually got to know them, then the level of ignorance on this forum and in this world would be a lot less. This applies to when people feel hatred towards welfare recipients and opponents in politics and war. Get to know a poor person, and while you might not feel more or less sorry for him, you might actually get to like him as a friend.

        • Courtney says:

          1) They did drug testing on welfare recipients in Florida, 2% were positive (less than the rate of drug use in the general population) and they spent more money on the drug tests than they saved removing those few people from the welfare rolls.

          2) The US Patent Office is a net gain to the Treasury.

          • Matt says:

            Just because people are poor it doesn’t mean they’re stupid, why would anyone voluntarily get a drug test if you know your going to fail or have been using recently. This prevents most drug users from even applying for benefits and screens out the retards that try to apply.

          • Kevin says:

            ROFL!!! The US Patent Office….lol. Thanks for proving my point…

          • Courtney says:

            Matt – it wasn’t “voluntary”. In order apply for welfare in Florida, you had to pass a drug test. 98% of them did.

            Kevin – What a worthless comment. You asked a question, I answered it. Not sure how that’s laughable or “proves” anything you said.

        • Scott says:

          Kevin, you sound like a spiteful man that has no appreciation for his former employer. That same government that is full of waste paid YOU for your military service and now you are saying it’s full of waste and should be cut back. The government you are bashing played a large part in getting you to where you are today. Shame on you.

          • Kevin says:

            I have full appreciation for MY military service! I know first hand all the waste that goes on from being in the military. I Love my country and am proud to have served, so don’t lecture me on anything! Every year I was in, at the end of the year we would go out an shoot every bit of ammo/ mortars etc… just so we would get at least the same allotment the next year!!! We would take a whole week and just blow through all of it, what started out as a training exercise but ended up being just a free for all with the ammunition. I am proud to have served and mark my word, I EARNED every dime of that college money which is way more than I can say for most kids I see these days… So don’t play that liberal guilt crap on me!

          • Jerry Chin says:

            Kevin, as a fellow veteran thank you for our service. But as a fellow brother you should know that we shouldn’t be bringing up our service to back up our political point of view. Your service has nothing to do with your politics. Our service doesn’t make us any more or less special than a non-veteran and our service does not entitle us to have a more or less valid political viewpoint than a non-vet. Civilians don’t know this, but I know as a fellow veteran you understand this. Don’t use your veteran status to try to back up your arguments.

    • ChimChim says:

      Right on! We should not have to pay for another’s poor choices by force; however, charity is OK…

    • pghfan says:

      Kevin
      you couldn’t be more on the money- agree totally

  8. Texas Wahoo says:

    It certainly makes sense for people who make less money to pay lower taxes. I think the problem lies with the fact that such a huge percentage of people are paying no taxes (many of them actually “paying” negative taxes). If you are getting money from the government through income taxes as opposed to paying money, you will have completely different thoughts on the income tax.

    • Matt says:

      Yeah, there is a huge problem with some illegal immigrants getting Tax ID’s and the GETTING money from the government because of credits for kids and other things.

      • Diane says:

        This does not seem likely. Would need to see where you are getting your facts.

        • pghfan says:

          actually even worse that that- there is a program that we actually send hundrds of millions to mexico for children- no way to say who really was born here or not and some families clain the entire village a their kids- was just brought up again to try to stop i congress- but in an electioin year? good luck

      • Sarah in Alaska says:

        According to my sister who worked as an eligibility technician this type of thing did happen and she was responsible for discovering and reporting such instances in her case load. It wasn’t a Tax ID that she told me about; it was a social security card — the parents and children had the same names.

    • shckr7 says:

      Interesting comment Texas Wahoo!

      Almost my entire family (except my parents and brother) get more money from the government than they pay in. I always joke that that it is Christmas in March (when you get $$$ from the government you don’t wait for April), as all of my siblings have new big screen TV’s, iPhones, iPads. I don’t even have as nice of stuff as they have. Many of them make less than $25k per year, but I didnt realize that having iPads and iPhones, put you at less than poverty…..sure is a different picture than usually painted, eh?
      I suppose, I’m a little jaded when I see this type of thing happen with my tax money. And I don’t believe my family is out of the norm, what-so-ever…….
      It is my belief, that everyone should have some skin in the game. Certainly I can afford to pay more in taxes than my siblings (and boy do I….), but they sure have a different perspective the purpose of government vs myself……

      • Matt says:

        And they have $0 of savings.

        • ChimChim says:

          You nailed it Matt!

        • Shckr7 says:

          Except they have my savings…. :)

          • Matt says:

            Your family may be involved in drug dealing, a theft ring, a pimping operation, a dog fighting ring, or other illegal activity then. If you net under 40K, even with gov cash coming in, there is no way they can have all that stuff and money in savings, unless they live in a car or a tent.
            Otherwise everyone would want to make 30K a year.

      • Scott says:

        Perhaps your family (like many in America) needs to adjust their withholding.

  9. Bill Stone says:

    I am eighty years old, I still work because I like to eat. I am taxed on my income which includes social security. I don’t mind paying taxes on my earned income but I think it is totally unfair that I have to pay taxes on SS.
    It just depends, I guess, on if you want to fight the system.

    • Shirley says:

      Bill, I am 70 years old and my husband is pushing 75. We are both retired and we also like to eat :-) and grow a lot of our own veggies. From what I have seen the tax on SS is very little, if any (never more than 50% of it taxed), and then only if you earn enough extra to go over a specified amount of income.

      I admit that I have not researched the specific amounts simply because neither of us wants to be in the workforce any longer.

  10. I think we should keep in mind that low income folks who pay no income tax are likely spending a relatively large share of their few resources on sales and other taxes. The income tax is progressive (although far, far less so than it used to be 50 years ago), and most other taxes are regressive.

  11. Ben says:

    One key point missing was that those paying no taxes are actually collecting thousands in return (welfare) to boot. These checks from the treasury should be atleast in part vouchers for groceries, utilities, and other necessities rather than just money.
    Bottom line, poor should not pay more taxes but show responsibility for welfare assistance.

    We were better off when charity was a virtue rather than a tax deduction. That said I do not believe that the top levels of the US Government are being responsible and fair in taxation and spending. Playing class warfare to demonize the successful and using deceptive arguments about secretaries paying less % than billionaires is an insult to our intelligence. Look at the actual numbers. A higher % for a secretary is still thousands and thousands of dollars less than a billionaire.

    • David M says:

      Ben,

      I don’t have the hard numbers but many less people than in the past, get $.

      Food stamps have increased substantially since the welfare reform act put into place by President Clinton and $ have substantially decreased.

    • Sarah in Alaska says:

      Saying that 46% of Americans “collect thousands (welfare) to boot” is a gross exaggeration.

  12. Scott D says:

    Boy, I sure agree. Someone has to pay the bills as roads don’t pave themselves and some inefficiency is simply part of the human equation. Besides,our tax burden is very low in comparison to other developed countries and historically for the US itself.

    • David M says:

      Scott D – I agree 100%. However, you are basing what you are saying on facts – however, facts are dead and thus should not be used anymore :)

    • NateUVM says:

      Can’t be overstated. We’ve been cutting (in a real sense) taxes for so long, and yet we expect the same level of “service” from the government (infrastructure, defense, etc…), it doesn’t make any sense.

      Supply-side “Voodoo” economics has never made sense. While the theory behind it can certainly be debated, the reality when applied is that reduced revenues do NOT lead to less spending, they just lead to more debt… Sound familiar? Even Bush Sr. saw the error of that logic.

      And the old saw about the chain-smoking, cell phone-using, SUV-driving welfare recipient (by the way, given all the marketing that’s out there, aren’t these all items that the American public have been led to believe are necessities of life…? I digress…) is a popular example to grab a hold of, it’s nowhere near the majority of the cases. Most people I’ve run into, or read about, are trying their hardest to get OFF the “dole.” You can always find an example to prove a point…as sweeping and as inappropriate as it may be to do so.

      But either way, the solution here is to INCREASE oversight to reduce abuse, which would require an initial INCREASE in funding. Cutting funding just hurts everyone. Those of us that wish to live in a stable society as well as those that need the direct assistance.

      Looking for proof of what happens when you cut back on services (as opposed to raising revenue)? Where can we find what the effects of enacting deep austerity measures? How about Greece? Italy? Spain? Portugal? How did that work for them?

      No, I’ll opt for higher taxes, thank you.

      “A society grows great when old men plant trees whose shade they know they shall never sit in.” ~Greek Proverb

    • Kevin says:

      Scott D:

      I am not sure where you live but in NC, the last time I filled up my gas tank, I do believe the price for a gallon of gas had a tax rate of 38.9%, what do you think that is for???

      Really, there is inefficiency and then just plain waste!! These politicians are drunk on power, more tax = more waste they just find some other program to waste it on to get more votes! There is plenty of money to pave the roads with the built in taxes we have now, just stop wasting the money on useless programs.

      • andy says:

        Kevin: how do you come up with gas tax rate of 38.9 % ? That seems way too high. State of North Carolina has 57.6 cents of gas tax, including Federal and State exercise tax. Assuming $3.5/gallon for gas price, that’s only 16.4%.

        Source: http://www.api.org/Oil-and-Natural-Gas-Overview/Industry-Economics/~/media/Files/Statistics/gasoline-diesel-summary.ashx

      • freeby50 says:

        “I do believe the price for a gallon of gas had a tax rate of 38.9%”

        Maybe you paid 38.9 cents per gallon. You did not pay 38.9% tax rate on your gasoline. Not if you live anywhere in the USA.

        Gas taxes in the US are not a % of the cost. They are fixed amounts in cents. Fedd tax is 18.4 cents per gallon. State and local taxes range from around 8c to 50c.

      • Scott says:

        Kevin, I grew up in NC and yes they have a very good roads system and it is in large part because they kept raising the gas tax over the last 20 years. Compare that with VA where I live now – we enjoy some of the absolute lowest gas prices in the nation because the state hasn’t raised the gas tax since the 80′s, but… it comes at the price that our roads are starting to fall apart from lack of maintanence. But Virginians right now seem more willing to raise the income tax to cover this than raise the gas tax (I don’t know why, I support raising the gas tax).

        My point? You need to realize that every state is different in how it collects taxes. Don’t assume that the method you pay is the same elsewhere.

    • Ben says:

      “…Some inefficiency…” You mean adding 5 trillion to the national debt in the last 4 years alone with no end in sight? Road construction and maintenance? I pay a very high vehicle registration tax to my state government. That tax increased 20% in the last year alone.

    • Ben says:

      Many U.S. citizens dedicate anywhere from $0.32 to $0.40 per dollar of income to paying direct and indirect taxes. This means on average that you will retain about two-thirds of your income while paying the other one-third in taxes. I do not believe that the US tax burden is low. It is morphed and disguised to fool you. For instance:
      everyone is subject to paying federal and state and local taxes, Social Security tax, Medicare tax, sales tax, excise tax, and some other miscellaneous taxes depending upon your unique situation. Even if you are low income your employer will have to pay some tax for you. Every time you spend money a business reports your purchase as income. That business now has to pay income tax, sales & use tax, excise taxes, payroll taxes, and personal and real property taxes. That business pays for these taxes with the revenue it generates (expenditures by you). We are funding taxes paid by businesses. Businesses have to raise prices if taxes are raised on them.

  13. eric says:

    I agree with you Jim. Taxing families near the poverty line wouldn’t lead to anywhere good.

  14. Roxanne Mitchell says:

    The Federal Income Tax is a scam, a fraud on the American people. The Feds pay the government bills by printing money, they do not use our taxes to do things. All our tax money does is pay interest on the massively growing federal debt, which is yet another scam and fraud on the American people. The creation of the Federal Reserve was set in place to bring America under world domination. Looks like it is working just fine towards that end. Goodbye America.

  15. Don’t forget to take into account tax deductions and credits beyond the standard ones such as Earned Income Credit and business loss passthroughs. These are legit ways to lower your tax due and is another factor in the lower % of people paying personal income tax.

  16. mannymacho says:

    Actually, I think that with credits the number is more like $50,000 for a family of four to pay no taxes. Not sure if you still think that’s unfair or not. I do think that everyone paying at least something into the income tax system is more fair overall.

    Also, with unmarried couples living together it is common for one person to sign up for welfare/food stamps/student grants and add a pretty sizeable income to the “household.”

    • Sarah in Alaska says:

      The earned income tax credit also applies.

      The unmarried couple thing bothers me; our system is currently set-up to reward unmarried partners with children. Sure, some people don’t want to get married. That’s fine. But please don’t make me pay for it.

  17. Fabclimber says:

    The problem we have is that average people pay much of the taxes which are spent by millionaires in Congress. We feel we have no real say in how the money is spent and THAT is what is unfair about our tax system.

    We know we need Gov’t for mutual benefit, but today it is far out whack with the original mission and out of our control and we are totally frustrated about the taxes we pay!

  18. Sarah in Alaska says:

    Wow. I’m surprised at the accusations about low income families. Two examples:

    My father is a public school teacher. My mother is also an educator but opted to stay home while her children were young. Our family did not pay taxes for many years (due to exemptions, charitable donation and home mortgage deductions) and while we qualified for “services” such as free school lunch, WIC and free college tuition, my parents never enrolled us in the programs.

    When my husband was finishing college he lived below the poverty line because his yearly income was so low (he received no parental assistance), and he did not ‘game the system’. He qualified for food stamps but it never occurred to him to apply. And actually, the univesity called him and begged him to apply for a grant they knew he would automatically receive based on his major.

    The 46% of people not paying taxes aren’t all receiving $1000s in return, nor are they all on welfare, food stamps, etc.. To say so is a gross exaggeration, Ben.

    • Shirley says:

      I do agree with you, Sarah, and thank you for saying it in a manner much more clearly than mine might have been.

    • pghfan says:

      your family is the exceptioin not the rule. Ben is not grossly exagerating. Close to 50% of people in this country receive some sort of “help” or handout from the government.
      students shuld NEVER get gov’t living assistance, it is their choice- although probably a good one- to be in school -

      • Scott says:

        pghfan – you didn’t claim any credits or deductions on your last 1040? Come on…

      • NateUVM says:

        And what a horrible investment for a society to make… Education?! Phht! THAT won’t get us anywhere, huh?

  19. Dan says:

    I think there’s a problem with people without skin in the game voting people into offices that promise to increase spending on them. Everybody should pay some income tax.

    I’m for a flat tax rate. Poor people pay less, rich people pay more. People shouldn’t be allowed to vote for higher taxes for other people.

  20. Deacon says:

    I don’t mind taxes either. I just don’t like throwing money away into a broken system. As a nation, we need to start balancing the budget and spending less than we bring in. I guess the best thing I can do is vote for the best candidate that is going to make this happen.

  21. freeby50 says:

    Arguing about what is ‘fair’ in taxes on the Internet will get you nowhere fast.

    I could say that it is only fair if everyone pays an equal share. That sounds fair right? OK so everyone fork over $9,000 per person in your home. Cause thats about what our government spends.

    I’m sure many people will object to that and say that the government must spend less. Ok, so should we cut grandmas social security check or the defense budget? Cause those 2 things are the vast majority of federal spending.

    The % of people not paying federal taxes has gone up a lot in the past decade due to the Bush tax cuts. Should we repeal those and raise taxes on everyone? Or do you just want taxes raised on poor people? So they can give the government 1% of diddly squat? Do you also want them to raise taxes on rich people or is that just a ‘gimmick’ meant to punish successful people?

    • Ben says:

      HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! That’s hilarious. a person making $20k and a person making $200k both pay $9k!! Youre late for your apt with your therapist.

    • appygal42 says:

      First off freeby50, social security comes out of a separate fund that would have more than enough money in it if the government hadn’t “borrowed” from it. I do not consider social security as a hand out as most of the people receiving it paid into it their entire working life.

      Obviously people who earn less money should have to pay less in taxes. My gripe is also with the “poor” in our country who live off the system in many different ways and then walk around with their nails done, new cell phones, etc. There is much more abuse of the system than people want to admit. One of the first things welfare needs to do is start drug testing. Kudos to Florida for starting this!

      I would prefer a consumption tax as well because if they can afford to buy booze and cigarettes, they can afford to pay a little extra tax on it.

      The biggest drain on this country is the people who get all the free hand outs their entire life and still think “we” owe them something.

      • Anonymous says:

        the biggest drain on this country is the politions who vote them selves a raise every chance they get. and are exempt from all the things we have to pay out of our pockets.

  22. JoeTaxpayer says:

    Don’t forget, there’s a $2000 child credit, this wipes out the tax on the last $20,000 of income. That, and a bit of IRA deposit and a family of 4 can earn over $50K and still pay zero.

    • Dave says:

      I know several people that are in this exact boat. I actually know someone who didn’t pay a single dime in federal income taxes and actually got a “refund” because he was still eligible for credits…

  23. Tim says:

    A family goes Fed tax free on the first $46,234
    Stand Ded $11,900
    Personal Exp $15,200
    2 / $1000 Child Tax Credits covers next $19,134

    10% tax on 1st $17,400 = $1740
    15% tax on next $1,734 = $ 260
    Total $2000
    Base on 2012 tax deductions

    • jmc says:

      This my point right here!
      If I as a single make 46234 a year, I will PAY INTO THE FED TAX SYSTEM!
      Someone with 2 kids and a “I don’t want to work anymore” mom/dad will PAY NOTHING INTO THE FED TAX SYSTEM.
      How in anyone’s mind is this fair? We both get the same services from the federal government, but this person gets them for free? Why? Why is this other person so much better than me?

      And don’t give me that BS about “but they can’t afford to feed their children”. Can’t feed ‘em, don’t breed ‘em. BTW, I support the government paying for ALL contraception, so there should be no unplanned children.

      And this isn’t just about people who pay NO fed income tax. It’s also about people who pay LESS fed income tax than they should. Lets up this 46234 to 60K. So now both of us are paying something into the system, except the family of 4 pays MUCH less into the system than I do. Again, how is this fair? I really want an response to this, but I never get one. That is because EVERYONE knows this is unfair, but people DO NOT CARE as long as they are the ones benfitting. The problems in American start on Main Street, not Wall Street.

      If we collect taxes from all of the people who are currently paying nothing PLUS collect more taxes from the people who are getting away with paying less than they should…. this is NOT an insignificant amount.

      P.S. – I include businesses in my model, they shouldn’t get tax breaks either.

      • Sarah in Alaska says:

        Interesting perspective.

        I don’t have an answer but I have a guess:

        Do you eat as much as a 4 person family? Do you wear as much clothing as a 4 person family? Is your home/car large enough to fit a 4 person family? Do you have medical expenses equal to a 4 person family?

        I ask this as a DINK.

        • jmc says:

          So because your household eats more food than my household, you should get your government services for FREE? Really Sarah? You really think that because they eat more food that they should get stuff for free that I have to pay for? You know this is not fair….. as a DINK maybe you are defending them because you think one day you might be able to get the same benefits as they do??
          Most DINKs I know are not planning on being DINKS forever.

          • NateUVM says:

            Are you REALLY this obtuse? REALLY…?

            Assuming all else is equal (i.e. people are consuming goods at the same rate), a family of four has QUITE a few more financial challenges than a single person, especially if the total income is the same as a single person. As a society, we have decided that supporting families is a good thing, and that we are willing to help defray those expenses, relative to a single earner at the same income level.

            Your line of argument would suggest that the two children need to go out and earn a living in order to support themselves. Seriously?! Is that seriously what you are suggesting? Because that is the only logical end to your ridiculous assertion.

          • Sarah in Alaska says:

            Not that it’s any of your business, but actually, I do plan to be a DINK forever.

  24. Tim says:

    I mean a family of four.

  25. I think we should also consider that low-income individuals and families may not be paying income tax but they also have their own share in taxes, such as sales tax, property tax, etc.

    • Matt says:

      No, they don’t do anything helpful for our economy. They have a net negative economic impact for the U.S and should have to pay an income tax like everyone else.


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