Tim Boyle, Getty Images
Tim Boyle, Getty Images

We were talking tax cuts on the Morning News Tuesday morning and our old buddy Byron called in.  We always enjoy Byron’s calls and he’s spot-on with most of his opinions but we have to part ways over his comments on who pays the federal tax bill.  Our local liberal Steven called in to take the tax cut plans to task as well.

Admittedly it’s difficult to get a straight answer on taxes with politics playing out in the worst way but there is a guy who’s opinions on economics I do take to heart.  He’s Walter E. Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University and a former fill-in host for Rush Limbaugh’s radio show.

As he puts it in an op-ed piece for the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal, “Politicians exploit public ignorance. Few areas of public ignorance provide as many opportunities for political demagoguery as taxation.  Today some politicians argue that the rich must pay their fair share and label the proposed changes in tax law as tax cuts for the rich.”

There’s several ways to cut the cow…percentage of federal tax, percentage of personal income, total dollar amount so you have to agree on what you’re measuring if you are going to have a productive conversation. That aside, here’s what the good doctor says.

“According to the latest IRS data…the top 1 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted annual gross income of $480,930 or higher, pay about 39 percent of federal income taxes. That means about 892,000 Americans are stuck with paying 39 percent of all federal taxes.”

One percent of earners paying nearly 40% of the bill? Does that sound “fair share-ish”?

Williams says “The top 10 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income over $138,031, pay about 70.6 percent of federal income taxes.  About 1.7 million Americans, less than 1 percent of our population, pay 70.6 percent of federal income taxes.”

in a country of 325 million residents, 70.6% of the tax bill is paid for by less than 2-million Americans.  Not fair enough?

Williams adds that “ The bottom 50 percent of income earners having an adjusted gross income of $39,275 or less, pay just 2.83 percent of federal income taxes …while Thirty-seven million tax filers have no tax obligation at all.”

Finally Williams says “The Tax Policy Center estimates that 45.5 percent of households will not pay federal income tax this year.”

I suppose “FAIR” means something different to each of us, but what about these facts sounds so unfair?

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