Ever since Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas) said last summer that 51 percent of American households paid no income tax in 2009, the defenders of the rich and greedy are in a lather opposing the proposal that the wealthy should have to pay any more income taxes – like the rest of America is free loading.
But, if you are married filing jointly, you pay no taxes if your income is less than $18,700 for the year, a little more than $1,500 a month. As you may know, the poverty level this year is estimated to be about $22,350.00 for a family of four. So, one way to look at this is that a family that is below the poverty level doesn’t pay federal income taxes. The government estimates that almost 60% of all Americans will spend at least one year below the poverty line at some time from when they are 25 years until they are 75.
You may ask why Senator Cornyn chose the year 2009 to make his argument that some weren’t paying income taxes. And why his rhetorical imitators do the same. Their plain implication is that these taxpayers had the money to pay taxes and were not paying. But how could he, and his ditto heads, overlook that it was in 2008 that our economy cratered and the middle class began to bleed while the government bailed out the wealthy that shot the cannon ball sinking our economy and leaving it awash in red ink.
Before 2009, the total number of tax returns had increased slightly from 2006. But the number of tax returns fell in 2009 by almost 12%, or 10 million returns. Total adjusted gross income fell by 5% or about $400 billion. The recession obviously meant that there was less income to pay income taxes.
Senator Cornyn also worded his charge carefully, to the effect, that many weren’t paying federal “income” taxes. His chorus of followers states it the same way. But there is abundant evidence that many who aren’t paying income taxes are paying other federal taxes including the payroll tax which funds Social Security and Medicare, also that they are liable for state income taxes, local property taxes, sales taxes and a myriad of fees that are imposed. When the dust settles, the only ones who don’t pay any taxes at all are our children (those lazy no-goods), some disabled, some elderly and most poor. Does Senator Cornyn and his chorus of cads think of children, the disabled, the elderly and the poor as free-loaders? Perhaps they want to tax the books the children read at school, the devices the disabled use, reduce even further the social security the elderly receive, and charge a bag tax for the homeless poor that carry their meager belongings in this fashion, making their home in the streets over gratings and park benches where they can.
Another reason we are collecting less from our citizens is the political class keeps trying to reduce taxes to win votes like we can balance the budget with vapor. We refuse to reduce our popular tax breaks, treated as “expenditures” in Hill jargon (because they reduce tax income to the treasury). Nor is this only a few dollars here and there. We have more than a trillion dollars a year in reduced taxes, with the bulk of those breaks going to, guess who, the top end of the income food chain.
The truth is that we all should be paying more if we care to keep this nation afloat. But there are folk who would rather not pay what is required and test the premise whether we can borrow from China and Japan and delay any settlement on our debt. They refuse to re-adjust our war machine to simmer and to increase the tax obligation of those who can afford to pay more – and that means especially the rich.