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Your Take: WSJ’s Image of the American Taxpayer

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Sad Rich People

So the Wall Street Journal ran an article earlier in the year, just after the fiscal cliff was “averted” and the American Taxpayer Relief Act was passed, in which they talked about how much your taxes will go up. I don’t read the WSJ all that often but I was a little surprised how out of touch they were with this graphic.

Let’s see who the WSJ chose as their “example people.” The first person in the top right is a single parent with two children who makes… $260,000 a year. To the right you’ll see a retired couple who makes $180,000 a year. In the lower left there’s a single person who makes $230,000 and then you have the family of six (!!!) making $650,000.

Surprisingly out of touch with real life… what do you think when you see this?

{ 49 comments, please add your thoughts now! }

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49 Responses to “Your Take: WSJ’s Image of the American Taxpayer”

  1. Dan says:

    Looks like a MAD magazine spoof of the WSJ. I read the WSJ pretty regularly. How did this silliness get by the editors?

  2. NoNonsenseNick says:

    This is Hilarious. Apparently I need to get on WSJ’s payroll.

  3. Cindy says:

    Wow! I’d take any of those incomes… Very much not my reality!

  4. Chris says:

    I didn’t know that WSJ ventured into the absurd.

  5. Scott says:

    $180k in investment income for a married couple? Why work?

  6. John says:

    What a joke! The people writing the WSJ are lving in a Fringe (alternate Universe)reality.

  7. Brad says:

    In what imaginary world, is this? Insulting…

  8. antSWer says:

    I like how they all look so sad making more than I will ever make.

  9. Emily says:

    I think you missed the point. This wasn’t about the “average” taxpayer but about how taxes would be affected by the new legislation. The greatest affect, and most importantly, the most difficult to understand, is on high earners with significant investment income. This explains why they chose the examples they did.

    • Jim says:

      That may have been their point but the title of the article was “How Much Will Your Taxes Jump?” and when your examples are all in the top half of the top 1%, it must mean they’re speaking to a very small slice of America. I assume that when talking about “your taxes” they would’ve chosen examples more in line with the average.

  10. Glenn Lasher says:

    One-percenter nonsense. By the standards of anyone I know personally, these folks are all wealthy. Even if you make some allowance for them probably living in Manhattan, they are still rich.

    It’s not a very effective way to gain sympathy.

  11. Robb says:

    Wow, Americans are doing much better than I thought!

  12. I think this was the only way they could show a significant tax increase. Most people under these incomes only had to deal with the temporary 2% tax cut disappearing.

  13. Kasey says:

    Wow – I agree that graphic is completely laughable.

    However, in all fairness, when I checked the article out, there was a different interactive graphic that put things in a much more realistic light.

    Their “Interactive Graphic” tab is working kind of funky. If you click on the wacky image first, that is what’s displayed, but there’s a different graphic further down the article.

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887323689604578220132665726040.html#articleTabs%3Dinteractive%26project%3DCLIFFTAXES0102

  14. C. Dowling says:

    They must be thinking only of those who work on Wall Street.

  15. Karl says:

    It was clear to me at a glance: these are the types of people that will get an increase. Based on the comments above most people didnt get the same message so they should have been more clear.

    I am not in any of these groups; but the top people pay almost all of the taxes (top 5% pay 57%) Maybe they should pay more or maybe less but they are still paying WAY more than their per person share. I include this as IMO it is not commonly known and it is accurate.

  16. admiral58 says:

    very interesting article by WSJ

  17. Wes Anderson says:

    They do not live around me. WSJ is way out of touch.

  18. JB2 says:

    Two things are at play here. The first (and probably more influential) has already been noted by several other posters – A couple making $100k/year or a single making $45k/year aren’t going to be affected by the changes to the tax code (except for the payroll holiday retirement). The second factor is the WSJ’s readership is probably skewed toward the more affluent. It makes sense to me for them to portray scenarios that would more likely affect their reader base. Otherwise, it would be like The Baltimore Sun doing an infographic on the impact of fracking on West Viriginians – it would be of little value to their readers.

  19. Gwen H says:

    This is very out of touch with reality.

  20. ChrisCD says:

    I was struck by how sad they all looked except for the single gal with no kids. So maybe they are also trying to make a point about family life. Not a point I would agree with, btw.

    The WSJ does serve a higher income crowd though so maybe it isn’t out of the ordinary at all for their readers.

    The retired couple should look ecstatic, though. Their taxes didn’t change.

  21. mannymacho says:

    The old adage still rings true…mo money, mo problems.

  22. charles says:

    it seems about as reasonable as identification with a family of four or five with an income equal to what their numbers show for taxes.

  23. cubiclegeoff says:

    It is kind of funny how sad they all look. If I made that much and had to pay that increase in taxes (pretty small amount in the whole scheme of things), I wouldn’t be that depressed looking.

  24. freeby50 says:

    Yeah on one hand the article is titled “How Will Your Taxes Jump?” so the “your” in there seems that this should apply to everyone right? But then they have a picture full of the top 1-2% with high 6 figure incomes.

    However this is the Wall Street Journal and they are talking to their readership which is primarily high income. So yeah…they’re talking to their target audience of affluent people.

    I do like how even the children in the picture look sad. “Mommy, do we have to pay more taxes? Can we still go to the Hamptons this summer? “

  25. Christian L. says:

    Jim,
    When I first saw the graphic, I didn’t know it had printed in the WSJ.

    I thought it was a satire…

    -Christian L. @ Smart Military Money


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