Cognitive Dissonance

"Democracy! Bah! When I hear that I reach for my feather boa!" - Allen Ginsberg

272 notes

On fallacious 53%-ers, the 99%, taxes, and income inequality in the US

Rebloggable by request:

 lyddawiya asked:
What exactly is a 53%er? Pardon my ignorance. 

Meg of Cognitive Dissonance:

These are supposedly the only people who pay taxes. Currently, 53% of Americans pay income tax. Sounds unfair, right? But this neat little point is wrong. The other 47% do pay taxes. They aren’t all getting full federal refunds or are in such a low tax bracket they don’t pay federal taxes, i.e. seniors on a fixed income.

This whole “53%-ers” thing started with Red State blogger and CNN commentator Erick Erickson whining about being in the 53%. He started a sad little tumblr, We are the 53%, to mock the We are the 99% site and Occupy Wall Street. He ignores that the 47% percent pay payroll taxes, gasoline taxes, sales tax, state tax etc. There’s a short summary of that talking point, and its fallacies here.

However, here’s how that breaks down:
Dark red and dark grey = State and local taxes
Light red and light grey = Federal taxes 



An explanation by G. William Domhoff from the University of California, Santa Cruz:

But what matters in terms of a power analysis is what percentage of their income people at different income levels pay to all levels of government (federal, state, and local) in taxes. If the less-well-off majority is somehow able to wield power, we would expect that the high earners would pay a bigger percentage of their income in taxes, because the majority figures the well-to-do would still have plenty left after taxes to make new investments and lead the good life. If the high earners have the most power, we’d expect them to pay about the same as everybody else, or less.

Citizens for Tax Justice, a research group that’s been studying tax issues from its offices in Washington since 1979, provides the information we need. When all taxes (not just income taxes) are taken into account, the lowest 20% of earners (who average about $12,400 per year), paid 16.0% of their income to taxes in 2009; and the next 20% (about $25,000/year), paid 20.5% in taxes. So if we only examine these first two steps, the tax system looks like it is going to be progressive.

And it keeps looking progressive as we move further up the ladder: the middle 20% (about $33,400/year) give 25.3% of their income to various forms of taxation, and the next 20% (about $66,000/year) pay 28.5%. So taxes are progressive for the bottom 80%. But if we break the top 20% down into smaller chunks, we find that progressivity starts to slow down, then it stops, and then it slips backwards for the top 1%.

Specifically, the next 10% (about $100,000/year) pay 30.2% of their income as taxes; the next 5% ($141,000/year) dole out 31.2% of their earnings for taxes; and the next 4% ($245,000/year) pay 31.6% to taxes. You’ll note that the progressivity is slowing down. As for the top 1% — those who take in $1.3 million per year on average — they pay 30.8% of their income to taxes, which is a little less than what the 9% just below them pay, and only a tiny bit more than what the segment between the 80th and 90th percentile pays.

The entire article is extremely informative in regard to taxes, income, wealth, power, and the disparities between all of them in the U.S.

Erickson’s site is truly sad in that these folks are completely enthralled with the ideas that they got everything they had themselves, and second, that this system of barely staying above water and working 3 jobs to do so is a-okay. Two excellent responses to this site can be found here and here.

Incidentally, Erickson’s site has been nailed making up the 53% pics at least once by the internet’s photoshop wizards. 

Filed under income taxes politics Erick Erickson 53% 99% inequality occupy wall street rebloggable by request ask ask box

  1. cognitivedissonance posted this