No typo. Fully 47 percent pay no federal income tax whatsoever and, per the AP, the average household in the bottom 40 percent actually turns a profit. And yet. Replies to the question, “Do you pay your fair share of income taxes?”
About right amount 50%
More than fair share 43
Less than fair share 1
And no, the “less than fair” numbers aren’t dramatically different as incomes go down:
If you think the “over 100K” crowd is grumbly now, check back with them after a few years of Obamanomics. As for the “under 50K” group, the amazing number really isn’t the “less than fair” column; after all, aside from the occasional hyperrich progressive imbecile, no one believes he or she should be paying more tax. The amazing number is, of course, the “more than fair” column. Surely this group forms the bulk of that 47 percent that pays no federal income tax — in fact, a couple with two kids making slightly over $50,000 can now achieve zero federal tax liability — and yet, somehow, 36 percent still say they’re paying too much. Why?
One probable answer: “Income taxes” isn’t the same as “federal income tax.” Trust a New Yorker on that. In New York, the average household in the bottom fifth of income receives a state “refund” equal to 3.5 percent of income. (The average American household in the same category pays 0.2 percent in state income tax.) But as you move up towards the middle class, things get tougher: The average New York household in the middle fifth of income pays 11.6 percent in state and city income tax, with New York City residents reaching the top rate of “personal income tax” (don’t ask) at just $50,000. So the numbers in the CBS poll probably reflect complaints about overall income tax liability, not just the federal variety. Who wants to be the one to tell these fine folks that the states are broke too and will probably have to raise rates before long?
A little further gloss from Rasmussen:
When thinking about all the services provided by federal, state and local governments, 75% of voters nationwide say the average American should pay no more than 20% of their income in taxes. However, the latest Rasmussen Reports national telephone survey finds that most voters (55%) believe the average American actually pays 30% or more of their income in taxes.
Sixty-six percent (66%) believe that America is overtaxed. Only 25% disagree.
Lower income voters are more likely than others to believe the nation is overtaxed.
Again, there may be semantic distortion here. “Overtaxed” refers to more than just income tax, so this could well be a lament about property taxes. At least, I hope so: If it’s sales tax they’re worried about, wait until VAT fee-vah hits full force. Or maybe they’re troubled by the burden of the payroll tax, the lifeblood of Medicare and Social Security. Solving that entitlement crisis is going to be even more fun than we thought!
For your follow-up reading, I offer you Mark Steyn’s reflections on tax season as a spectator sport. Exit quotation: “We are now not merely disincentivizing economic energy but actively waging war on it. If 51 percent can vote themselves government lollipops from the other 49 percent, soon 60 percent will be shaking down the remaining 40 percent, and then 70 percent will be sticking it to the remaining 30 percent. How low can it go?”