Social Question

CaptainHarley's avatar

Do YOU pay taxes? Almost 1/2 of US households pay NONE!

Asked by CaptainHarley (22414points) April 8th, 2010

Do you pay taxes? What do you think about having to pay while others pay not at all? What do you think about the uses to which your taxes are put? Vent if you like! : )

WASHINGTON (AP)—Tax Day is a dreaded deadline for millions, but for nearly half of U.S. households it’s simply somebody else’s problem.

About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That’s according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.

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94 Answers

Snarp's avatar

Wow ½? I guess households are doing better than corporations, ⅔ of which pay no income taxes.

MorenoMelissa1's avatar

I didn’t have to pay taxes when I was going to college because grant money is free and you don’t have to pay taxes on it.

OpryLeigh's avatar

I’m in the UK but yes, I pay taxes. It depends on why someoone doesn’t pay taxes as to how I feell about it. I try not to judge people. If someone isn’t working, despite genuinely trying to find work then of course I don’t expect them to pay taxes. If someone is sitting on there backsides, claiming benefits when there is no reason why they can’t work, then yes, it pisses me off but I hope people like that are in the minority.

Strauss's avatar

I pay taxes. I overpay my taxes. The Federal Government (IRS) and the State of Colorado make sure I overpay my taxes, and then they give back what I don’t owe. This withholding tax is like an interest-free loan to the government.

I pay taxes when I buy gas, when I pay my utilities, and when I buy anything that has a sales tax, or liquor tax, or excise tax. Every time my money moves from someone else to me or from me to someone else, it seems there is a tax on it!

Snarp's avatar

@Yetanotheruser You know you can change your withholding so you don’t overpay.

Qingu's avatar

Cite your source for the “½ houses don’t pay taxes” claim.

Strauss's avatar

@Snarp Yes, I know. I under paid my withholding one year and had a hard time coming up with the correct amount at tax time. Personally, I would rather slightly overpay by withholding than have a tax liability at tax time. I know that doesn’t work for everyone.

Cruiser's avatar

I read this yesterday and wonder what all the fuss us about? No worries there @CaptainHarley, my tax increases will cover the other ½!

Snarp's avatar

@Qingu I hate to have to say this, but but the source is mentioned right there in the question details. The Tax Policy Center, via the AP.

Qingu's avatar

Ah, nevermind. You were copy and pasting from here, I presume?

“The vast majority of people who escape federal income taxes still pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, and excise taxes on gasoline, aviation, alcohol and cigarettes. Many also pay state or local taxes on sales, income and property.”

So basically the title of this question is bullshit.

Snarp's avatar

@Yetanotheruser Yeah, that’s the tricky part. My withholding was way off this year and I owed a lot of money for the first time ever. I’d rather get a refund, but I do try to keep it small. But with interest rates what they are, it’s not like it costs me much money anyway.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Qingu

It usually helps if you read the entire question, you know. : P

Qingu's avatar

The title of the question is factually incorrect. I don’t know how the three paragraphs of text you copied from a website with no attribution and apparently without having actually read the article somehow mitigate that.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Qingu

YOU’RE the one who didn’t read the question!

Snarp's avatar

OK, I get what @Qingu is getting at. The question does say that almost ½ of all American households pay no taxes, which is demonstrably not true. While they pay no federal income tax, they do pay payroll taxes, not to mention state and local income taxes and sales taxes. To quote from the source in @Qingu‘s link:

“The vast majority of people who escape federal income taxes still pay other taxes, including federal payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, and excise taxes on gasoline, aviation, alcohol and cigarettes. Many also pay state or local taxes on sales, income and property.”

Cruiser's avatar

Gosh must be nit picky Thursday in Flutherland!! Part if not most of the question is to get your attention…most if not all of the body of the explanation is to outline the heart of the question and in there it clearly state…

“About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009.” So IMO the question is accurate!” Lighten up!

CaptainHarley's avatar

“Quibble: to evade the point of an argument by cavailing about words.”

Qingu's avatar

Yeah. Damn those words and how they actually mean things.

Snarp's avatar

No, the question is either intentionally misleading or was formed by someone misled by the source material. I take it back, it could be accidentally misleading. It’s a pretty big deal to say “pay no taxes” when they do, in fact, pay taxes. It gets at the very heart of the question. Low income people often pay a higher proportion of their income in taxes than the highest income people do. Don’t believe a hard core Communist Marxist Socialist Democrat like me, believe Warren Buffett.

CaptainHarley's avatar

You’re just trying to recoup from not having read the question, reacting instead to just the title. Tisk! : )

Qingu's avatar

I’m confused as to why you believe I didn’t read the question.

UScitizen's avatar

I pay at least 18 different taxes. I most likely missed a few. The various governments take two out of every three of my hard earned dollars. Of course, I do have the satisfaction of knowing that my money is used to purchase state of the art health care and state of the art weapons…. for Israel.

Arisztid's avatar

Frankly, this falls under “life is not fair.”

I do not like it, I do not approve of how some of my tax dollars are spent, I do not like that I am short houred so I can be denied healthcare along with my wife (we shall not have any help from Obama’s package until I am dead), I do not like that my ethnic minority is generally very disliked and I have to deal with more than the average on that, I do not like many things.

Guess what.

Just because I do not like these things and I do not think they are fair does not mean anything is going to change.

I can rail and rant or I can get on with life. If I think I can change anything that I consider unfair, I try my best. If I cannot… I go on while making an effort to not let it rule my life, trying to change my behaviour to bring a fairer situation to come to pass. Some irritants this is easier with, some are very difficult.

susanc's avatar

I didn’t pay federal income tax last year for the first time since I was 23, because I (stupidly, stupidly) bought an expensive house in early 2008 and then learned that the legal deduction for the interest paid on the loan (almost no principle being paid yet) entirely offset the house payments. Astonishing result of long-term tax policy to encourage people to own their own homes – a goal many of us must now relinquish.

Snarp's avatar

Oh, and to answer the question, I do pay taxes. In spite of a number of credits and deductions I had a substantial federal income tax bill in addition to my already withheld tax. I also paid income taxes to two states and my city, property taxes to the state, and of course all sorts of sales and excise taxes as well as payroll taxes.

njnyjobs's avatar

I wouldn’t envy the position that the 47% non-tax-paying household are in. My paying taxes means that I may be in a better position than they are, granting all things being fair. .. besides, whether or not one pays income tax. everyone who buys stuff still throw their 5–10% of the purchase price into the tax bucket by way of sales taxes.

Captain_Fantasy's avatar

I pay taxes. How do I become one of those households that doesn’t have to?
Help me Matthew Lesko!

davidbetterman's avatar

Perhaps if the government didn’t spend so much of the money killing innocent women and children around the world with that tax money, more people would pay their taxes.

Qingu's avatar

@njnyjobs, people who pay no income tax also still pay taxes for social security and medicare.

Which is why it’s absurd to say that ½ of Americans “pay no taxes.”

janbb's avatar

I would so much rather be in the top bracket of tax payers. Since that would be a percentage of my income, it would mean that my income is much higher than the putative ½ of all Amercians who don’t pay Federal income taxes. Would you rather be poor and not pay income tax or rich and pay? C’mon people – think!

njnyjobs's avatar

@Qingu of course, payroll taxes . . . I know that . . . but only people who get a paycheck contribute that way, how about people on welfare? . . . I do believe that the OP’s topic is geared towards personal income tax. . . and why do you have a need to address your post to me?

Qingu's avatar

I was worried you took the title of the question at face value and not as the demonstrable falsehood that it is.

RealEyesRealizeRealLies's avatar

Well I did pay taxes… but after reading this question…

b-e-s-t… t-i-m-i-n-g… e-v-e-r…

Michael's avatar

It does bother me that 47% of American households pay no income tax because it means that 47% of Americans are faring so poorly that their incomes are too small to be taxed. That is worrisome, though it stems directly from eight years in which real wages fell, real household income fell, and job creation was 1/10th what it was in eight years previous.

I’ll tell you what else bothers me. That from 2001 to 2007 the 400 richest households doubled their incomes (to an average of $345 million) and their effective tax rate fell by 6 percentage points. That means that someone making $350 million a year paid a lower share of their income than a household making $100,000. That bothers me.

Here’s something else that concerns me. The richest 1% of households received 30% of the benefit of the Bush Tax Cuts. The richest 5% received fully half the benefit of the Bush tax cuts. Capital gains tax rates are at their lowest levels in almost 80 years. And yet, when President Obama proposes letting the top marginal rates go back to what they were under President Clinton (oh, the horror…what an awful period of economic stagnation), Conservatives cry foul.

Qingu's avatar

@Michael, but rich people need their money too. And eventually it trickles down to poor people. I have faith that it does, at least.

Where’s your faith in the free market, Chairman Stalin?

tinyfaery's avatar

Do people still think trickle down economics actually works?

Qingu's avatar

Trickle down economics is how we won the cold war

nikipedia's avatar

@Michael: Couldn’t have said it better myself. Thank you for that. And you even included sources.

wilma's avatar

Yes, I pay plenty of taxes. I pay income taxes as well as all those other taxes… everyday.
and, I don’t feel like I’m getting my money’s worth from the governments that I pay them to.

DominicX's avatar

My parents are wealthy and they pay taxes. But they’re also Democrats. :)

tinyfaery's avatar

We won? What was the prize? Huge national debt?

dalepetrie's avatar

I haven’t had a significant federal income tax liability since I moved into my house 13 years ago, because I bought via a program that allows me a 20% Federal Income Tax credit on the mortgage interest I pay. I have a son so I get a child tax credit, my wife spent 5 years in graduate school so she got an education tax credit, this year we got a making work pay tax credit, and I also itemize. I spent more than 7.5% of my AGI on unreimbursed medical expenses, I gave away several bags of clothing to a thrift store, I have my mortgage interest that’s not subject to the writeoff, basically I’m getting more back than I paid in. And hey, I also didn’t have any earned income myself in 2009 because my company shut down early in 2009 and I have yet to find employment. So in fact, my income was primarily from unemployment insurance. All but the first 26 weeks of that unemployment were from Federal extension dollars. Now my wife had a half time job, but basically health insurance pretty much ate up the majority of her income, and without these benefits, I wouldn’t have been able to stay in my home much less pay my bills. Yet 14 months later, because I had a safety net and didn’t have a Federal tax liability to burden me even more, I have not missed or been late on a single payment of any kind. Yes, I’ve borrowed a significant amount of money on credit cards and from my parents and it’s going to take me a while to dig myself out of that hole when I find a job, but somehow if given the financial pressures I have right now, when I filed my taxes I’d actually had to pay the Federal government, that simply would have seemed wrong and unjust.

Do I feel guilty?

Hell no.

Why?

Because I DO pay taxes. Like others have pointed out, they are talking about one specific tax, Federal Income Taxes. But every dollar I’ve earned or my wife has earned has seen 7.65% taken off the top. And hey, if I were making 20,000, 40,000, 60,000, 80,000 or 100,000 a year, I’d still have 7.65% taken off the top. But once I reached 106,800 in income, that withholding would stop, so whether I was making 110,000 or 10,000,000 a year, only 7.65% of the FIRST 106,800 would be taxed at that rate.

Now, when I file my state taxes, pretty much everything I was able to write off on my Federal taxes was excluded. My wife had money withheld by the state and we STILL owed money, like $500, which thankfully was more than offset by my Federal refund otherwise I don’t know how I’d have paid it. So, states, which really don’t have as “progressive” of a wittholding structure as the Federal government, really pretty much charge you on most of your income, and tax most income at the same rate. But the idea behind Federal taxes is that taxes really shouldn’t hurt you, they should be collected on disposable income, not money that you need to put food on your table. So they have personal exemptions to account for the family you’re taking care of, and standard deductions to account for each individuals extra living cost. Then they say that’s for your family with no extraoridnary expenses, but what about if you’re raising a child, or paying education, or daycare, or medical expenses, or you were robbed or you gave to charity, or this or that…well these things are things that really we should as a society WANT you to do, and therefore, we say that income as well is not really something we should tax, so we give it back in the form of deductions and credits. It’s not a perfect system, but the point is not to make life harder for that 47% who in 2009 really barely made enough money to get by.

Because if I’m pushed into bankruptcy because there are 6 people looking for every job that exists, even though I’ve spent 20 years between college and my career building my skills and experience, not only does that really suck for me and my family and comes at a human cost, but then I become a drain on the system…I have to use the court system to declare bankruptcy, I put another house on the market that the bank will lose money on which will further drive down property values, causing more people to go underwater on their mortgages, and when I run out of unemployment, I go on welfare, because you gotta eat. I could literally lose everything I’ve ever worked for, and have to rely on the government far more than I do now by getting a few grand a year in tax savings because of my specific living expenses and circumstances in any given year.

But problem is, it doesn’t stop there. Even though I have to pay the state taxes at the same rate a rich person would on all my income for all intents and purposes, I still have 2 grand a year I pay to the county in property taxes, I’ve personally lost 100,000 in equity in my home that I had no control over, I’m paying hundreds of dollars a year in interest now that I didn’t have to pay before to make ends meet, and I’m still paying the same sales tax rate as a rich person would on every single thing I buy. I’m still paying $2.75 a gallon for gas, the same as a rich person, which includes something likd 60 cents of taxes. There are taxes on my garbgage collection, my water service, my electricity, my phone bill, my internet bill, my TV bill, if I go out to eat I pay taxees on that, if I buy something for my household, I pay taxes on that, when I renew my drivers license or my auto tabs, I pay taxes on that. If I do anything outside the house, I pay taxes, and even if I just sit home I pay taxes.

And the real problem is, no matter HOW much money I made, all these other taxes can only go up so much, based on my consumption. Yes, if I make 50,000 a year vs. 5,000,000 a year, I’m probably going to use more gas, buy more things, use more electricity, have a bigger house and pay moree property taxes. But 100 times as much? Nowhere NEAR. Simple fact is, when people decry that some are not paying enough in Federal taxes while others get slaughtered, it ignores some very important facts.

First, it ignores the fact that the whole REASON we have a progressive tax structure (between 10% and 38% marginal rates, not a HUGE spread by any means, considering once we had a tax of 95% on incomes ver 1 million), the whole reason we say that every dollar you earn up to x dollars is taxed at this rate, every dollar between x and y at that rate and every dollar between y and z at the other rate is because a) that “marginal” income is less of a necessity and more of a luxury afforded to a slect few, and b) it is meant to compensate for the fact that virtually every other tax we pay, and there are dozens of these taxes, hit those with less money disproportionately, and are in fact “regressive”, that is the more you make, the less you pay as a percentage of your income.

Second, it ignores that earned income, that is, income you’ve actually worked for, is far more heavily taxed than is investment income. And when you look at where the real money is made in this country, it’s not made in the form of salary, it’s made int eh form of stock grants to key people. And your gain on the stock is what is taxed, and that’s only after you sell it, and then only at a rate of 15%, inested of the 38% you’d have paid if the company had paid you in the form of a paycheck like you or I would get.

Another thing it always ignores, is it will say that the top x% of wage earners pay y% of the taxes, but that is a meaningless and misleading statistic. Essentially, by looking at the number of people vs. the total tax paid, you’re diluting the picture, really you should look at how much money is made. A more accurate way to look at it is what is a person’s overall Federal tax rate on average by income level. Or that this y% of taxes is collected on z% of all income made. In other words, let’s just make some numbers up to illustrate. Say the stat was the wealthiest 5% pay 80% of the taxes. Well, what if the wealthiest 5% also make 90% of the income. That’s what this whole thing obscures int he first place, it actually reverses the perspective on that one, and that’s even before we consider all the other regressive taxes that are supposed to be balanced out by a progressive Federal tax.

As for the whole idea of trickle down economics, it’s a conservative myth that has been firmly disproven by the latest financial collapse. It’s a simple as this:

Theory – If you let the rich keep more of their money, they will invest it in job creation and more jobs will mean more people have more money.

Fact – the more money the wealthy have been able to keep, the more powerful they’ve been able to become, the more influence they’ve had in our government and the more they’ve stacked the deck to give themselves an even bigger tax break, and breaks for regulations to protect the little guy. In the end, even if more jobs were created due to higher investmment, when the bubble bursts, it takes the lowest floating boats down first.

Alternate theory, aka reality – if you let the people who will spend every dime they earned on living expenses keep more of THEIR money, they will buy things with that money, instead of finding a way to shelter it from tax where it really doesn’t do anything because it’s just money on paper and not in anyone’s hands, it’s just another zero on someone’s balance sheet, not money someone’s going to use to buy bread. When this happens, companies will have to raise supply to meet higher demand levels, this will create jobs, which will put more money in the pockets of those who will spend it, and you have a trickle up effect.

Bottom line, trickle down is like a funnel, where someone is scooping handfuls of money out of the top of the funnel before it even gets to the part where it can shower over the masses. Bottom up servers moer people and still creates vast wealth at the top, but in a sustainable way that doesn’t create a bubble

Michael's avatar

@wilma Really? You don’t feel like you are getting your money’s worth?

Do you not drive on roads to get to work (paved and maintained by the government)? Do you worry about getting sick every time you eat something purchased from your local grocery store or whenever you pop a tylenol for a headache (inspected and regulated by the Food and Drug Administration)? Were you or any of your friends or relatives educated at public schools or universities? Does the fire department come when you call them? Do you stay up nights worrying that Canada could invade any minute (every soldier and sailor is paid by the government)? When you take book out from the public library, do you think to yourself, “this would be better if only I had to pay for it?” When you get on a plane to go on vacation, do you wish the TSA wouldn’t check every bag for explosives? Do you not benefit from the research conducted by the National Institutes of Health, or the Centers for the Disease Control, or the National Science Foundation? Would you prefer that criminals simply be let go, instead of held in jails? Do you or does anyone you love live in an area prone to wildfires (US Fish and Wildlife Service), or flooding (US Army Corps of Engineers), or earthquakes (US Geological Survey)? Have you never taken a little trip to a national park, or any other public park for that matter? Have you or anyone else you love never received a loan to get a small business up and running (Small Business Administration), or to buy a house for the first time (Federal Housing Administration), or to go to college (all backed by the federal government)? Have you or anyone you love never hit a rough patch and gotten some help from unemployment or disability compensation? Have you or your parents or grandparents never received social security checks, or medical care covered by Medicare? Do you think the water that comes out of your tap is too clean? Have you never visited the Smithsonian, the Grand Canyon, or Mt. Rushmore? Do you wish there were fewer police officers on your streets, or fewer health inspectors at your restaurants? Do your kids or nieces or nephews not play with toys that are inspected and regulated (Consumer Product Safety Commission)? Do you think the internet, GPS, and cell phones are all overrated (all made possible by government sponsored research)?

I could go on.

So, tell me again, how you think you’re not getting enough for your money.

casheroo's avatar

Technically, no. I guess we don’t.
When we file, we get it all back and more.

LuckyGuy's avatar

Sure I pay taxes. I don’t make enough to get out of it.

Reread @dalepetrie ‘s message above. It’s worth it.

YARNLADY's avatar

If you meant to say Federal Income Tax, than our household has an even higher rate. The older, more fully employed people pay income tax, but the younger frequently unemployed members pay none, and in fact, receive stimulus deductions to add to their refunds.

My husband prepares taxes for six family members and only two paid any income taxes, the rest received refunds in excess of what they paid in.

Of course, everyone, including children with allowances, pays taxes on nearly everything we buy.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@dalepetrie

Good answer. Pity we can’t devise a tax system which penalizes neither rich nor poor, but taxes everyone equally, eh?

Qingu's avatar

@tinyfaery, hellow. I’m Qingu. I don’t believe we’ve met. The only thing I despise more than religion is the Republican Party. :)

phillis's avatar

Nope. I sure don’t. And neither my husband or I will be paying them this year, either.

My husband and I have done everything legally and humanly possible to get his status changed here in the U.S. since 2005. It’s 2010 now, and we’re no closer than we were when we started. My goverment is so smart that they decided it made perfect sense to allow those with no social security number access to every goverment benefit under the sun, and disallow driver’s licenses to those who want to work their asses off and make an honest living. Our decision as to where our money goes came down to a choice. We can either have food, or pay taxes.

I’ll pay my taxes when they allow me access to the SSDI I qualify for, but that they won’t let me have because that’s considered “sucking off the government”. Ain’t that a hoot? As a citizen, I have less access to government aid than the illegals do – and it isn’t the illegal’s fault. I can draw it, but they’ll destroy my family for doing it. They’ll deport my husband. Maybe I can convince them to consider we’re fair and square with them if I point out that we’ve paid thousands to them in fees without any guarantee whatsoever that he’ll ever be approved.

I’m feeling patriotic. Let’s all stand for The Star Spangled Banner.

__Oh, say can you see?__

PandoraBoxx's avatar

Perhaps it has something to do with 39.7 million people living below the poverty level in the US? Source

22.5% of all children in the US are reported to live in food insecure households, which is interesting in light of the obesity issues. What food we do provide children through subsidized programs are not exactly the healthiest.

davidbetterman's avatar

@phillis Rock on…

(And isn’t it Jose can you see?)

phillis's avatar

@davidbetterman Yeah, I do see Jose. Hola, Jose! How’s yer mama ‘n em?

davidbetterman's avatar

From the Jose Jiminez show back in the 60s…

Here he is as an astronaut

Qingu's avatar

@phillis, I’m having trouble understanding what you’re talking about.

If you’re a citizen, you have access to government services.

And when you say you’re not going to pay taxes this year… are you employed? If so, you’ve already payed your taxes through payroll deductions. And if you fill out the forms and mail them in, you’ll probably get a sizeable refund.

davidbetterman's avatar

@Qingu Not everyone has monies withheld from their paychecks.

CaptainHarley's avatar

And not everyone gets a paycheck! : )

jerv's avatar

I didn’t work for most of the year (unemployed from 2/09 until 3/10; slow market here), my wife only worked seven months of it at a piddling retail job, and we still earned enough to pay a couple of grand. Of course, we got part of that tax money back for the few months we were forced onto food stamps. Just because we earned enough to pay taxes, that didn’t mean we earned enough to afford to eat after paying rent.

If my situation is anything approaching typical then the fact that 47% will pay no taxes should be a wake-up call. If that many household incomes are lower than what my wife earns on her own working 36 hours a week at $9/hour then maybe thats a sign. We live modestly, eat beans and rice, drive a $300 beater car, etcetera and we still had to worry about making rent on our cheap by local standards apartment.

Now, if the rich really wanted to reduce their tax burden then they’d make sure that more peasants had enough to be self-sufficient (lower expenses; the fewer people on public assistance, the less revenue the government needs, therefore the lower taxes are) and to be able to pay their share. Isn’;t the whole point of letting that few people have >90% of the money to make jobs and stuff that will make life better for everybody? Or are you refuting the effectiveness of supply-side economics which is basically a cornerstone of the modern Conservative philosophy?

Personally, I think it’s disgusting that we are even in a position where we have to use taxpayer money to keep other people from starving in the streets. However, unlike many Republicans, I am too humanitarian to actually allow that to happen. That is why I may seem like a Liberal or even a Socialist at times. If hard work was all it took to earn enough to live self-sufficiently then I would agree more with most Conservatives.

However, I do not believe that the poor choose to be poor at least not all of them and must vehemently object to a system that advocates letting thousands starve just so a few dozen can have an extra $5–50 million bonus on their $6 million dollar salary, especially when that money is never invested the way “Trickle-down” theory says it always is.

wilma's avatar

@Michael I am well aware of what my hard earned tax money is supposed to be used for. Unfortunately it doesn’t always work that way. As a matter of fact many of the tax funded programs that you cited are not available to me where I live, although I still pay for them. Am I able to take advantage of many of the resources that you listed? No.
I have first hand knowledge of many abuses of public monies at my local, state and federal level. That doesn’t mean I stop paying taxes, it means I do what I can to stop the abuse. The waste, and misuse of public funds is appalling at all levels of government. Elected officials and people who work at tax payer expense often (no not all of them ) abuse the people that they work for. Corruption abounds.
My family falls in that range where we get no tax breaks or rebates, and even when we qualified for “free lunch” it’s not something we would do. We paid over $10,000 in medical expenses last year. Yes I could claim it on my itemized tax form. It took a couple hundred $ off my obligation.

We just keep working away, doing our best to make our lives and the lives of our fellow citizens better, by volunteering in our community and making the most of our talents and resources.

I don’t mind paying taxes, I just want to pay my fair share and I want to get my monies worth.

CaptainHarley's avatar

Things keep going the way they have been, and those who work will be supporting those who live in cities, illegal immagrants, and virtually everyone else. This would be a system HORRIBLY out of equilibrium!

Qingu's avatar

@CaptainHarley, and why do you believe that is the case?

phillis's avatar

@Qingu There is a very strict set of guidelines in place that illegals must meet in order to even be considered for approval to reside here. One of thier guidelines for illegals is that no one in your immediate family (spouse, children) can be drawing ANY government benefits whatsoever. SSDI is a government benefit. That’s MY money that I’ve paid into since I was 19 years old. I EARNED that money. So, technically, you’re right – I can start drawing it…..if I want to lose my family. They’ll deport my husband.

SSDI is Social Security Disability Insurance. I have significant disabilities that prevent me from working successfully for a boss, so I have my own business. Or, at least I did have a business. My husband’s driver’s license expired three years ago. We began working in earnest 2 years before that to get him legal before his license was due to expire. We thought 2 years was plenty of time to get him legal. We were wrong.

We couldn’t just starve, and not feeding our children wasn’t an option, either. We weren’t making much to start with. Nevertheless, we cut out half of our customer base that took us 8 years to build, in order to keep him off the road as much as possible. He can’t work for anybody else, and neither can I. The U.S. government will seize any business that employs illegals, so nobody will hire him. When I say that we had a choice between food and paying our taxes I wasn’t kidding. I ended up standing in a church line for a box of food every two weeks the latter half of last year. It wiped us off the financial map. We’re destitute.

We CAN’T pay our taxes. We haven’t been able to pay them in three years, as of this coming April 15th. Please note that that’s also when my husband’s license expired. We were always current up until then.Now they’re holding it against him, telling him that he probably won’t qualify because he hasn’t paid his taxes. If they’d left us the fuck alone, they would have their goddamn taxes and we would still have a home and car. We lost everything we had…...all because we worked our asses off.

Qingu's avatar

@jerv, it’s not true that 47% of people pay no taxes.

See, this is why I have a problem with the title.

Qingu's avatar

@phillis, I see, your husband is an illegal immigrant? I suppose that’s a whole other can of worms. Anyway, I’m not familiar enough with your situation to give any sort of intelligent commentary. Sorry that it appears to suck for you. :(

phillis's avatar

@Qingu It’s okay. Nobody can make any sense out of it. You can’t make sense out of insanity. They’re yanking people out of their homes and breaking up families. Yes, he is illegal. We managed to jump through all their hoops but this one. They made damn sure that, one way or the other, your ass is out of here. So, they won. They also get to keep all those thousands we were forced to pay, so I don’t feel guilty one bit, that we haven’t paid our taxes. Funny thing is, had we married three weeks earlier none of this would have ever happened.

jerv's avatar

@Qingu I figured the precise number was an exaggeration, ignored the number, and went for the qualitative principle of the question.

Qingu's avatar

The principle is also wrong! Almost everyone pays taxes!

jerv's avatar

@Qingu Depends on the income level. And with so many people laid off (the actual jobless rate is about double the official unemployment figures) I can see how a notable percentage of people can fall under the line.
Maybe not 47%, but the standard deduction for a married coupe with no kids wiped my income (one months wages and 11 months unemployment) off of our 1040; we basically only paid tax on my wife’s income. That means that a single person and/or those with children could wind up under the cut-off income, at least with the employment situation what it currently is.

Now, if we were back in the Clinton era when over 90% of the people were gainfully employed, I would agree with you. But with so many people collecting reduced/no income these days, I can see the foundation of this question even if I doubt the numbers.

I also stand by my assertion that it indicates a serious problem with the economic policies that many Conservatives seem to love so much.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv Qingu is still hung up on the fact that we were talking about INCOME taxes and not ALL taxes, such as excise, property, gasoline, value-added, etc.

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley Isn’t any discussion that is even remotely political pretty much an exercise in semantics that eventually devolves into a pissing contest?

Qingu's avatar

@CaptainHarley, this is because the taxes most people pay and are most familiar with are payroll taxes.

It’s like you’re citing a study that says “half of Americans drink no Miller Light” and titling your question “HALF OF AMERICANS DRINK NO BEER.” I’m quibbling because it’s dishonest and misleading, and the posts in this thread make it clear that people have indeed been misled.

jerv's avatar

@Qingu Also bear in mind that, in addition to those that just have low enough income to avoid income tax, you also have rich people who manage to shelter their income well enough to have zero taxable income.
Again, though I quibble with the 47% number, I find the principle behind the question sound. Additionally, that story seems to be pretty popular . I mean, it’s on Yahoo, HULIQ, All Business, and other places. Basically a diverse enough group of sources that you can’t dismiss it as totally baseless.

Or is it just that he missed a word in the original question and now you are arguing semantics since you seem to be the only person here who didn’t know or care what he meant?

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Jerv Indeed it is and indeed it does.

@Qingu I certainly hope you’re not calling me dishonest.

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley I won’t speak for Qingu, but in all the time I’ve known you, that is one word that I could never associate with you, and I would have to question the sanity of anyone who does.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv

Well, thank you, Jerv. That means a lot to me. : ))

Qingu's avatar

I am indeed calling you dishonest, or at least intellectually lazy. If you were honest you’d change the title of your question after it was pointed out that it’s blatantly false.

@jerv, the principle behind the question is not sound. As Captain Harley’s own source notes. Most people pay significant taxes. It’s not “arguing semantics” to point out that federal income taxes are different from taxes overall.

By the way, every single source you cited specifically notes “federal income taxes,” not “taxes.”

I can understand not knowing the difference; taxes are confusing. But once that difference becomes clear, continuing to insist they are the same or the difference is just “semantics” is, indeed, dishonest. And honesty seems to be a big problem for many conservatives.

phillis's avatar

@Qingu CaptainHarley is a fab guy. I’ve known him for two years. He’s never lied. The title was indeed misleading, I’ll grant you that. But the good Captain didn’t write the article. He presented it for conversation, and we had one. Everybody knows that U.S. news relies on sensationalism to draw in viewers, which is precisely what that title was designed to do. We still had a decent conversation about it, so maybe that’s the best thing that could have happened.

Qingu's avatar

I didn’t say he “lied,” I said he was dishonest. The article he cited did not say what the title of this question says. And sensationalism is, I think, quite dishonest, not to mention contrary to the point of journalism.

Moreover, this story has become a meme among conservatives, apparently. The truth of the matter—that it’s only the fed. income tax, and the vast majority of people still pay lots of taxes—is simply not that provocative.

phillis's avatar

@Qingu I know you didn’t say he lied. I didn’t mean it to sound that way. To most people, dishonesty and lying mean the same thing. I felt he deserved better than to be taken that way by onlookers, that’s all.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@Qingu

It’s a damned good thing you can’t call me dishonest to my face.

jca's avatar

i have been reading with amusement all of the posts and arguments everyone is making above. there was a very interesting and informative article in today’s New York Times Business Section (today is April 14, 2010) that was about this exact topic. They said that everyone is talking about this 47% but it’s deceiving because it’s not that 47% of people pay NO taxes, it’s that 47% of people pay no FEDERAL tax. That is due to a few factors – read the article to get the details. They pointed out that most people pay other taxes, like state, city, etc. also most people pay other kinds of tax, like capital gains tax, for example. the article was very detailed and unbiased. also, it pretty much supports what @Qingu has been saying.

phillis's avatar

@jca We already covered that. Perhaps, in your mirth, you overlooked the 4 times it was stated.

jerv's avatar

@phillis Sometimes, something is repeated so often that it actually gets erased from memory since you’ll probably see/hear it again so soon that it’s not worth clogging your head with. Why do you think many guys don’t listen to their wives?

phillis's avatar

@jerv Oh, I see what you mean. Carry on, then. Cheerio!

jca's avatar

@phillis : i realize it was stated several times – just saying that the article supports what has been said.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Snarp says “Wow ½? I guess households are doing better than corporations, ⅔ of which pay no income taxes.”

Actually, corporations pay NO taxes…they merely collect them and pass the cost on to consumers. It’s individuals that pay taxes.

CaptainHarley's avatar

@ItsAHabit

True. But if they screw up big time, as British Petroleum has done, and everyone gets so ticked off at them that it makes it unlikely they can ever recover. This is a cost that cannot be passed on to the consumer.

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley Not for lack of trying. I think that homelessness and starvation are a pretty steep price though, as is the mental health of our nation’s populace. I mean, have you seen the rise in suicide rates due to the economy?
We pay, but not in money ;)

CaptainHarley's avatar

This is going to sound awfully harsh, but if anyone kills themselves because of the economy, they probably should have been in a mental institution all along.

ItsAHabit's avatar

Captain- How right you are. Even the stories of people jumping out of the windows of skyscrapers after the market crash of 1929 appear to be essentially an urban myth..

jerv's avatar

@CaptainHarley This is the 21st-century; everybody is crazy!

CaptainHarley's avatar

@jerv

LOL! Sometimes I wonder! : )

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