Half Of Americans Don’t Pay Any Taxes

-Submitted by David Drumm (Nal), Guest Blogger

It’s a common claim from the Right, but it’s not true. Senator John Cornyn (R-Texas), in a Senate floor speech,  claimed “Fifty-one percent — that is, a majority of American households — paid no income tax in 2009. Zero. Zip. Nada.” At least he used the often omitted “income” adjective. However, those individuals still pay payroll taxes, like Social Security and Medicare, sales taxes, and often property taxes.

When Republican Senators give speeches complaining about someone not paying enough tax, you can be sure of two things: one, they’re not talking about corporations and two, they’re not talking about the wealthy. If you’re not a member of either of those two groups, hold onto your wallet. The Republican hatred of increasing taxes doesn’t apply to everyone’s taxes, just those who can afford to them get re-elected.

A report from the Tax Policy Center examines the facts. Here’s an overview:

  • 23% pay nothing because they’re poor. For example, a couple with two children earning less than $26,400 will pay no federal income tax this year because their $11,600 standard deduction and four exemptions of $3,700 each reduce their taxable income to zero.
  • 10% are elderly and pay nothing because their Social Security benefits are exempt from federal income taxes.
  • 7% pay nothing thanks to provisions in the tax code designed to benefit low-income families: the earned income tax credit, the child credit, and the childcare credit account.

The other 6% benefit from tax-exempt interest, itemized deductions, education credits, other credits; and reduced rates on capital gains and dividends.

That’s whom the Republicans want to tax: poor families and the elderly, those least able to afford the tax increases. The shocking aspect of these facts is the existence of such a huge number of people that are so poor, they balloon the percentage up to 46%.

H/T: Kevin Drum, Roberton Williams, Donald Marron.

80 thoughts on “Half Of Americans Don’t Pay Any Taxes

  1. Thanks, Nal. This is good information. I had suspected as much, but never took the time to track down the data. Thanks.

  2. As the report makes clear on p. 2, 46% of all tax units pay no federal income tax. That is the common claim, and this report verifies it. Thanks, Nal!!!

  3. The fact that Cronyn picked 2009 as the year for his example is quite telling. I would submit that a pretty large percentage of those who did not pay taxes in 2009 were people aa lot of money invested in the stock market during 2008. After GWBush could no longer hide the failure of his conservative policies and of his presidency and he was forced to introduce us all to TARP on Sept. 15, the market crashed by 30%. This created huge capital losses for high net worth individuals. These loses were still being used to shelter earnings from the market’s impressive recovery during ’09 and ’10. Many quite wealthy people saw the return of the value of their portfolios without paying any taxes on the gain for three consecutive years.

    So, when Cronyn talks about folks not paying taxes specifically in 2009, he’s also talking about some of the folks who got the benefit of lower tax rates at the top end who had extra income to invest and then benefitted again from the tax code allowing their losses to shelter their gains. But then, he tell us the whole story, did he? Some folks call that lying.

  4. Nal,

    “The shocking aspect of these facts is the existence of such a huge number of people that are so poor, they balloon the percentage up to 46%.”

    You got that right. We’re losing our middle class while the rich keep getting richer.

  5. @rcampbell, the crashing of the stock market does not create tax consequences. Only the sale of stock, outside of a tax deferred/exempt investment vehicle, creates recognized gains or losses. Further, a capital loss is not a tax shelter, it merely offsets capital gains with some carryover effects. And, taxes on capital gains represent a double taxation since the capital was derived from taxable income at some point.

  6. Actually, @Elaine, everyone is getting richer in the U.S., the “rich” are just getting richer a bit faster.

  7. However, those individuals still pay payroll taxes, like Social Security and Medicare, sales taxes, and often property taxes.

    Payroll taxes often lead to a refund. Give it to them now so they can give it back to you later.

    SS, it’s your account.

    Medicare, you want health coverage don’t you ?

    Sale Tax is only for the people who have money to buy something

    Property Tax if you haven’t noticed not many own property anymore.

  8. Yeah – those lucky bastards that make so little money they don’t pay Federal income tax – lets screw them like they can afford it!

    Thanks for highlighting the lie “half of Americans don’t pay taxes” parroted by FAUX news and the toadies like Klownderosa.

    The other half of the equation is that for 30 years now the Federal government has been taking FICA income & spending it to hide the real cost of the Reagan tax cuts. They now want to pretend those trillions of dollars, sitting in IOUs in a vault in MD are worthless. “Cutting” SS now really means never paying back on the promise made when FICA was raise to prepare for the boomer retirement. Screw the working poor again.

  9. Lets talk about GE. Jeffery Immelt was the presidents choice to lead the Council On Jobs And Competitiveness.

    Obama said that his job is “putting our economy into overdrive” and to announce a restructured presidential advisory board stressing increased employment and greater business opportunities abroad.

    I guess this is what he meant by business opportunities abroad.

    GE Moves Healthcare Division’s X-Ray Unit Headquarters To China

    GE Moves Green Jobs To China

    General Electric moves production from its lamp plant in Virginia to China

    GE Energy Opens Wind Turbine Assembly Facility in China

    You can google GE Moves bussiness and remember GE paid no taxes.

    Great pick Mr. President you are putting our economy into overdrive. Too bad it’s in the wrong direction.

  10. kderosa

    I wasn’t describing something theoretical or academic. I’m stating the fact that I have paid zero federal income tax for 2008, zero for 2009 and $3K for 2010. My income is derived entirely from investments. As various funds unloaded shares in panic selling after 9/15/08, those transactions created significant losses which were passed through to all of those funds’ investors. Though the paper value had fallen, there was still sufficient value in the portfolio to fund my daily life and those losses were used to off set the gains accrued from the market’s recovery during the ensuing years without tax consequence. My circumstances and experience are not unique. I’ve discussed it with several folks I know and found the experience to be pretty common.

  11. @Frank, do you know what the income level is for the 46th percentile. remember what is considered “poor” in much of the rest of the world is #1 or $2 a day.

    @rcampbell, sounds like your income is derived from mutual funds that are not held in a tax deferred vehicle like an IRA/401k/403b. you should probably follow the incentives of the tax code more closely if you wish to avoid taxable gains/losses. This is how your governmental overlords control your behavior and it is wise to obey them.

  12. “…do you know what the income level is for the 46th percentile. remember what is considered “poor” in much of the rest of the world is #1 or $2 a day.”

    That’s a completely irrelevant comparison?

    I wonder what it cost to rent a dwelling in those places where people are living on $2/day

    Not to mention people pay sales taxes, and a whole host of fees (which are taxes in another guise).

  13. When you are that poor, you don’t rent. You make yourself a little squatter shanty out of scrap metal and you grow food by subsistence farming. Our poor don’t have to resort to that, they rent/own houses with modern amenities and are, on average, supernutriated. So, yes, their income level is important as is the their level of non-cash and cash benefits which are substantial.

  14. I’m very grateful for handles and gravatars….I learned early on that after a column or two who never to waste my time reading.. Tootie, kderosa, ect ….I do read the follow ups by other members usually with great amusement but I’m not about to waste my time reading the inane dribble those types like to spew .

  15. Klownderosa – you may want us to but we still do not live in a third world county. Simply saying that the poor in America are not poor because they earn more money than people living in Somalia (a country your type should love because the government never gets in the way of anything its citizens want to do).

    It costs a lot more to live in America than in your third world paradise so please don’t pretend the poor here are not poor because workers in China earn 75 cents an hour.

  16. Frank, you never learn. It is practically free to find scrap material to build yourself a shanty and grow some food to eat. It only costs money when you try to lead a middle class lifestyle like our poor do.

  17. Tin Foil Master….Time to make sun shades….This time do not punch holes in the center of the foil and stare at the sun…..It burns you cornea….and the retinas never really heal either….

    So where do you suppose the people place these pieces of metal…..Where do you suppose they take them from…..I think it is called Trespass and when you take something that does not belong to you its called larceny and they can really get nasty and add burglary…to it….But hey why let these facts get in the way…because if they are convicted enough times they can be put in prison for life….then they don’t have to worry about the issues on a daily basis…because you have said you do not mind paying your fair share of taxes to house these folks….Man are you ever generous…..

    Is this Potterville….I don’t think you’ll really like the wonderful life you propose….

  18. Kderrhoid-

    What’s it like to live every day of your life with that maelstrom of hellish torment swirling around in your damaged brain?

  19. I believe I’ll go with rcampbell … personal experience combined with an understanding of market movements and tax facts … besides, that’s exactly how my accountant explained it to me.

    Thanks for the numbers Nal. It’s helpful in understanding exactly what Bush’s administration left us and even, if you’ll forgive the segue, one of the reasons the teabaggers are so angry. Of course these numbers make them even angrier because “poor” has taken on a new nuance which is “living like a republican” and no one likes to admit that the damage to their lifestyle was done by their own hand.

  20. Hey Blouise…..

    HenMan,

    First of all they have to be aware in order to know what it is like…Just because someone acts out does not mean that they are in control of the mind….then again…some are just simply possessed and what normal folks would consider evil is just a normal function in the life they lead…..

  21. It is amusing when people act high and mighty and denounce people for spreading the often-repeated bit about 1/2 of americans not paying taxes then turn around and spread the equally misleading bit about certain corporations such as GE not paying taxes.

    Without even adding the fact that corporations’ tax burden is just figured in the price of their good/services and their payroll the two comparisons are the same. GE didn’t pay income tax but they paid a HUGE amount of other taxes.

  22. Foilman,

    They call it TRESPASS for a reason…..You like have to be some place the requisite number of years to take possession by squatting….But then again….Your Brand of Republicans think everything is just for the taking…kind of like a 3 year old in a candy store….no concept of what the cost is and they know they want it….so when no body is looking they take it….knowing somebody else has paid for it…Think Wall Street…..yeah…that is a great example….

  23. tinfoil elf boy, so where do our homeless set-up their little chanties? Technically a trespass, but they appear to be tolerated if they squat on the right piece of land.

  24. AY,

    Hey there, bud … fight the good fight! I think some short guy is stacking boxes behind you, climbing on top of them and reaching over your shoulder … the problem is, he forgot his knife! :)

  25. jeff –

    Speaking of “often-repeated”…

    SO WHAT if “corporations’ tax burden is just figured in the price of their goods/services[…]”? At least I could then choose whether to pay for those taxes on those goods/services, based on their actual total cost.

    Shifting corporations’ taxes onto all of the rest of us, without giving us anything in return, and without giving us the choice of whether to support said corporations’ goods/services through our purchasing choices, is hardly an improvement. The users/purchasers of said goods/services should be the ones paying the full prices of those goods/services, including taxes.

    It is amusing for you to “act high and mighty” and come to GE’s defense about the “HUGE amount of other taxes” they pay, but discount these “other taxes” when it comes to individual people.

  26. Don’t feed the trolls. All they do is hijack. BTW, I wonder what proportion of teabaggers “don’t pay taxes”. Given that they skew older and are more likely to live in poorer states (which get more taxes back than they pay), I would guess that the proportion mirrors the rest of the US. They probably want other people who “don’t pay taxes” to be paying rather than themselves.

  27. “I wonder what proportion of teabaggers “don’t pay taxes”. Given that they skew older and are more likely to live in poorer states (which get more taxes back than they pay), ”

    And yet they are agitating for lower taxes for all, meaningthey are not acting in their own self-interest, at least according to your theory. Maybe some people do act on principle instead of self-interest.

  28. Way back, in the late 60’s or early 70s I read about a particularly evil but profitable way black South Africans were exploited by their colonial masters. It was quite smart in that it worked on and against the economic, political and psychological levels of the slave class while appearing to do no more than prevent squatters. There was also a TV news show that did a program about it that I saw, something like “60 Minutes” or “Frontline” or a documentary on the local public channel. The practice had been going on since at least the 50’s.

    Workers would be bussed in to the large cities from the reservations, bantustans, to their jobs and live in business owned barrack style housing for the term of their contract. They were terrible, overcrowded places. Contracts were regularly re-upped for good workers so this state of employment could go on for years.

    After a while workers in stable situations would leave the barracks and put up a shanty on the edge of the city. Shanty towns, without any infrastructure, would grow up and over time thousands of people would live in them.

    The materials, food, water, cloths, bits of furniture etc. were bought in the white city. The money earned in the city stayed there, recycled back into white pockets. After some time the shanty town would start behaving like a ‘real’ town with its own informal laws etc. People would also start to replace their tin and cardboard type shacks with more permanent materials, wood and concrete block. They, the workers, would send for their families also and some family members, a spouse, a child, would illegally come to live with their employed spouse.

    People in the shanty town were ripe for organizing by illegal unions and political interest groups and after a while that activity and the fact that the towns were being upgraded with permanent materials became public and a threat to the status quo.

    The white city government would then act shocked, shocked that it had a large, illegal municipality of slave-workers sitting on their border and send in the police and bulldozers to level it and send the occupants back into the bantustan’ s or barracks. The trouble-makers within that population would be arrested or fired from their jobs.

    A year or two later the process would begin again. It was brilliant.

    I have often suspected lately that the ownership class wouldn’t be happy until the working class were reduced to living the South African (spits) model of the black workers paradise.

    I did not though think that anyone visiting this blawg would advocate that the poor, which is made up of the working poor, short and now long-term unemployed, disabled and elderly give up any pretense of higher expectations* and lower their sights to a shanty at the edge of town. I did not expect that.

    *Expectations must logically encompass a social safety net as well as pre-paid entitlement programs which can satisfy their “wants”. Not to live like middle class persons but al least to live like working class persons making enough money to pay their own way and retain some personal dignity.

  29. Blouise,

    I think I understand….I think this is one that has been around a while….It has been kinda fun watching his head get cooked….brain dead to say the least…reminds me of putting foil in the microwave….it sorta sparks and then just burns out…You can open the door, the light comes on….but it just does not work anymore…Then they reinvent themselves…new name, persona and gravatar….You know what I mean….I think Idiot savant comes to mind…

  30. droscar-

    Rick Warren’s parishioners have been instructed to make their tax checks payable to “The Rick Warren Ministries, Inc.” to carry out God’s work here on Earth. (And Mrs. Warren needs a new Bentley.)

  31. @LK, as I said, our “poor” are nothing like the poor elsewhere. You are equating apples to oranges. people flock to our shores for the honor of living at least as well as our “poor” do adn with the perospect of moving up the economic ladder. it is far better than what they have and can do in their home countries.

  32. @Ay, are you still talking? It’s like that chicken that managed to live for years after his head was cut off. Brain-dead but in a different way you are.

  33. jeff: “It is amusing when people act high and mighty and denounce people for spreading the often-repeated bit about 1/2 of americans not paying taxes then turn around and spread the equally misleading bit about certain corporations such as GE not paying taxes.”


    Perhaps you haven’t thought this through. Taxes are what everyone pays to have the benefit of society, of civilization. One kicks in an allotment of shiny stones and it pays for certain services and expectations. It’s been that way since the dawn of civilization. How do you think the massive granaries of Jericho, holding the wealth of Canaan were built? Albeit those early taxes were more often than not paid at the business end of a pointed stick held by the local warlord’s vassal but still…

    It still works that way today. Corporations and their owners, including stockholders enjoy roads on which to move their products and workers, public utilities like water and electricity that are publicly subsidized, police protection, recourse to courts, food that isn’t poisonous, air fit to breathe, a 911 system and ready medical care, government research which by law is put into the public domain (selectively, but in the main distributed) and a national defense structure as well as a national emergency management structure. How about the massive subsidy to education on every level?

    Just about every fruit of government regulation, education/research subsidy and infrastructure benefits corporations both directly and indirectly. Why the hell shouldn’t they pay an income tax which directly funds that same society from which they benefit?

  34. “And yet they are agitating for lower taxes for all, meaningthey are not acting in their own self-interest, at least according to your theory. Maybe some people do act on principle instead of self-interest”

    I didn’t advance a theory, I raised a question. My guess isn’t that it’s principal, it’s probably ignorance.Much like association between being a Faux News viewer and having inaccurate knowledge about health care reform proposals.Your endless stream of “talking points” shows the same pattern of ignorance and your presumptuousness suggest a lack of interest in any real conversation. So, keep the verbal diahrrea coming, although I won’t be bothering to respond.

  35. @Rich, and I’m the one with “inaccurate knowledge.” lol

    @LK, “Corporations and their owners, including stockholders enjoy …” And, there you go. We already tax the owners for the income/gains assocaited with owning a share of the corporations. You just want to double dip.

  36. K: @LK, as I said, our “poor” are nothing like the poor elsewhere. You are equating apples to oranges. … it is far better than what they have and can do in their home countries.


    Once you destroy the subsidies and insurance/retirement plan known as the social safety net and lower the expectations of the poor to having ones very own shanty our country is absolutely no better than any other 3rd world stink-hole.

    Srsly, have you never known any desperately poor people? Have you never visited someone living in a neighborhood where the only car on the block that is running is yours, where your arrival causes the neighbors to come, in an endless stream to the broken-lock door of the person you have visited on some pretext just to see if you brought ‘something’, anything, even a bag of chips? Where people kill each other over a pork-chop? Literally kill each other over a scrap of food? I have.

    There’s a whole ‘nother world out there and to it’s credit our government, our people, have tried to make inroads to not let people slide into it that alternate world and maybe get some people out of it. Lowering expectations is not negotiable. It’s not human.

  37. Back in the late 80’s I came to realize that I was paying more in my Social Security taxes, than I was in my income taxes, in terms of what was being taken out of my paycheck. Yes I got a few bucks back at income tax time but as the decades wore on that became less and less because the kept reducing what you could declare. The were never any Social Security of Medicare rebates though.

    In the early 80’s Reagan with the help of nominal Democrat Pat Moynihan declared a plan to “fix” social security. It almost doubled the SS tax and put it into the general government fund. This allowed for the military build up of the 80’s and therefore helped the Defense industry which backed both Reagan and Moynihan with campaign donations and other emoluments.

    This represents the real taxation on working Americans that the anti-tax people never discuss. Please don’t get me started on property taxes. Back when I owned a modest Townhouse on Long Island, my property taxes were levied at $5,400 per year (1980’s). In Nassau County, which had been Republican ruled for 80 years, moderate condo’s paid more taxes percentagewise than sprawling Estates and upper class homes. The reason, as the condo Association was told by our attorney fighting the assessments was that the people running the County knew that Democrats mostly lived in the modest condos. Any time a politician tells you that they are against raising taxes, hold onto your pocket because it is being picked.

  38. @LK,

    “Once you destroy the subsidies and insurance/retirement plan known as the social safety net and lower the expectations of the poor to having ones very own shanty”

    Who is proposing that? Certainly not me.

    “Srsly, have you never known any desperately poor people? ”

    I have and, frankly and fortunately, people like that are only a tiny fraction of the group defined as the “poor” in this country. Further, these people must not be taking advantage of the lavish benefits we provide to our poor. Another failure of government.

  39. A short history of social security and medicare. remember half of your payroll taxes are hidden from you since your employer pays them.

    1935 – The Social Security Act, which covered workers in commerce and industry, was signed by President Roosevelt.

    1937 – The Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA) required workers to pay taxes to support the Social Security system. Payroll taxes were 2%.

    1939 – Social Security was expanded to cover dependents and survivors. Payroll taxes were 2%.

    1950 – Coverage was expanded to job outside of commerce and industry, and benefit levels were increased. Payroll taxes were 3%.

    1956 – Disability Insurance was created, and expanded over the following years. Early retirement at age 62 for women was permitted. Payroll taxes were 4%.

    1961 – Early retirement at age 62 for men was permitted. Payroll taxes were 6%.

    1972 – Automatic cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs), which index benefits to inflation, were introduced. The formula to calculate increases initially overstated inflation by 25%, and people born between 1910 and 1916 received an unintended windfall. Payroll taxes were 9.2%.

    1977 – The mistake in the benefit formula was corrected. The “notch” refers to the difference in benefits paid to the group that received the windfall and those who retired following the formula correction. Social Security was thought to be actuarially sound. Payroll taxes were 9.9%.

    1983 – The National Commission on Social Security Reform was created in response to the actuarial unsoundness of the system. The commission called for 1) and increase in the self-employment tax; 2) partial taxation of benefits to upper income retirees; 3) expansion of coverage to include federal civilian and nonprofit organization employees; and 4) an increase in the retirement age from 65 to 67, to be enacted gradually starting in 2000. Again, Social Security was declared actuarially sound. Payroll taxes were 10.8%.

    1985 – The Social Security Trust Funds were moved “off-budget” so that the funds earmarked for the Social Security system would be tracked separately from the rest of the budget. Payroll taxes were 11.4%.

    1986 – COLAs were increased to respond to minor levels of inflation. Payroll taxes were 11.4%.

    1993 – The amount of taxable benefits for upper income retirees was increased to 85%. Payroll taxes were 12.4%.

  40. Kderrhoid-

    It’s time for your Preperation H injection. Don’t skip it again. You know how crabby you get without it- not to mention the flashbacks to your imaginary days as Gauleiter of Warsaw.

  41. It’s ironic, sad, and depressing that so many public advocates (and their supporters) of reducing or eliminating SS, Medicaid, and Medicare, also
    claim to be Christians.

    It can’t be that they don’t have a conscience, rather, they do, but they
    simply ignore the voice of the little man sitting on their shoulder, whispering
    in their ear.

  42. So TinFoil Hatmaster, you have proved the point….It was not until the RWR, Bush years that it became unsound….Hmmmmmm..

    I bet HenMans’ mommy is proud of him and all….Can yours say the same?

  43. Tinfoil Elf boy,

    RWR wasn’t responsible for:

    1939 – Social Security was expanded to cover dependents and survivors

    1950 – Coverage was expanded to job outside of commerce and industry, and benefit levels were increased

    1956 – Disability Insurance was created, and expanded over the following years. Early retirement at age 62 for women was permitted.

    1961 – Early retirement at age 62 for men was permitted.

    1972 – Automatic cost-of-living-adjustments (COLAs), which index benefits to inflation, were introduced. The formula to calculate increases initially overstated inflation by 25%

    Which are no doubt contributing factors to the unsoundness of SS.

    Also, not adjusting the plan to account for the increasing retireee to worker ratio and for the longer life expectancies were the main culprits.

    Do your anti-psychotic meds dull your abilities so much that you can’t recognize these things? I do feel for you.

  44. I’m appalled by the way some posters speak to each other, but I realize it reflects today’s political discourse.

    My favorite cousin learned I switched political parties. His spew included the words “liberal,” “pinko,” “commie,” “pussy,” and something about fornicating with pigs.

  45. kathleen, no where did I defend GE. I simply said the two statements are exactly the same. I did not discount those other taxes that individual americans pay. I didn’t belittle them in the least. Again, just pointing out they are the same.

    I did not say whether corporations should or shouldn’t be forced to have a minimum amount of taxes taken. I did point out the fact that increasing their tax base would just result in one or more of higher prices, lower wages, fewer benefits, fewer employees, or endeavors to utilize tax loopholes to avoid any additional taxes imposed. That FACT has no bearing on the subject matter at hand – namely using misleading terms and statements in order to influence people’s beliefs. Again, just pointing out that the misleading statement is misleading no matter who the statement is directed to.

    Lottakatz, again. I am not saying whether GE and similar corporations should or should not pay an income tax to help pay for the infrastructure and societal needs we all require. That isn’t the point made in the article or in my comment. Just saying that saying “GE doesn’t pay taxes” is as false as saying “1/2 of Americans don’t pay taxes”

    Rich, you have an odd definition of “troll”. You seem it means anyone who doesn’t sing the same tune as you. Comparing two statements is hardly hijacking.

  46. You know people, N Vale has a point about the level of discourse. I suspect that if the Professor weren’t away he would have requested a less acrimonious and personal form of public comment and reminded us that an uncensored dialogue implies certain responsibilities regarding courtesy. LOL, or as my mother would have said “I’ve just sat down after a long day, don’t – make – me – get – up.

  47. LK, N Vale,

    I do appreciate your point of views….Initially I was defending Gene H’s right to post….It appears that it got out of hand and I will try and make sure I do not act according to the rules of trolls….I apologize for the disruptions….

  48. Individuals that do not pay any Income Tax have no “skin in the game” and will continually vote for representatives that protect this gift to them. I keep hearing politicians say that “everyone” should sacrifice something but it seems they only talk about the “rich” and not the people that do not pay anything. Except in very special circumstances, these people should pay some amount of Income Tax. I believe that 3%-5% of their Gross Income would be reasonable. I do not have specific numbers and wonder how much this would amount too.

  49. While we are at it, there is another set of society that pays zero income tax and even fewer taxes over all than that “50% of americans” or “big corporations” is your churches, especially the mega churches and the so-called “non-profit” companies. Why should some multi-billion dollar business get a free ride – funded by the taxpayers simply because they call themselves a church?

    Why can’t we treat a church like what it is – a business. Allow them to be fully involved in politics, but tax them like any other entity. Allow them to deduct for true charitable actions but still charge them with property taxes, sales tax, and all the other taxes we are burdened with. Your small local church won’t be that effected as they won’t generate that much income.

    Your mega churches with their concert halls, Disney-like amusement parks, television networks, and more… well they would have to pay their fair share.

  50. What are your thoughts on changing out tax methods. Switching to a flat tax, a “Fair” tax, or a sales-tax-only method has their plusses and minuses. Personally I am not sure about the fairness or effectiveness of some of these tax ideas. However the idea of a system of tax laws that an 8-year old would understand and would in theory greatly reduce tax fraud is appealing

  51. Thanks to the U.S.Supreme Court, large corporations have many of the same rights as individual citizens. Therefore, it seems to me that on that
    basis alone, they should pay corporate income taxes. During the 50’s, when co’s did pay such, people still bought plenty of GE products, and
    the company became larger. Their employees enjoyed good wages, and
    the entire country was better off too.

  52. K: “…I have and, frankly and fortunately, people like that are only a tiny fraction of the group defined as the “poor” in this country. Further, these people must not be taking advantage of the lavish benefits we provide to our poor. Another failure of government.”

    From my reading it seems that the failure is engineered to deny benefits to some good extent. That’s a different debate though.

    Personally, I think the number of the desperately poor isn’t known. If you’re not on a list you can’t be counted. The folks that make the lists make them selectively. Same with employment. Once you fall off the unemployment rolls you’re not counted as unemployed and if you’re working catch as catch can you’re not on any list to begin with but you’re probably seriously diminished economically. That doesn’t even factor in the people that never make it on to the lists, the mentally ill and other walking wounded that don’t receive any benefits.

    I never begrudged the government paying any earned benefit or welfare. When I had the rare occasion to look through the window into the pockets of our economic wasteland I was younger and more naive. It pissed me off greatly. I was always amazed that such places weren’t simply burned to the ground y the inhabitants and the fires didn’t spread outward from there. I realized though that the government paid ‘welfare’ to buy peace.

    Give people just enough (and then talk badly about the recipients) to keep them from a full on class uprising. Between welfare and the availability of legal and illegal drugs the perpetual and growing underclass could be dissuaded from warfare. Add to that modest gains for many and the growing penchant for incarceration and here we are. Spiritual reasons aside I am still big on entitlements, benefits, ‘welfare’, upward mobility, and expansion of the same, for purely practical reasons.

    The desire to kill these programs by many in the government is dangerous IMO should they succeed. It is also dangerous to condition a couple of generations to easy credit, living from credit card payment to credit card payment and taking on economic burdens that are too good to pass up but are unsustainable and then crash that bus.

    In fact, I think the changes in the internal security landscape over the last 10 years has been in anticipation, to some good extent, are in anticipation of just that eventuality. I say that because we have not come to this place in time and economy by accident and no magic corner on the economy has been turned or will be soon. There’s still wealth to be looted and until it’s all gone the theft won’t end. It’s not like our government, at any level has any pretense of not being paid hands for the brigands.

  53. Henman:

    “not to mention the flashbacks to your imaginary days as Gauleiter of Warsaw.”

    I dont think kderosa would have been a seig heiler, just a hunch based on his/her posts. kderosa is definitely not a collectivist.

  54. Jeff, your idea that tax exemptions for churches should end is something I would endorse. Once a church hits the magic number of what it takes to pay a pastor a wage commensurate with his/her duties then taxes should kick in at the corporate rate. My reading of the separation clause didn’t reveal to me any requirement that all churches should not be taxed, only that no discrimination against nor discriminatory advantage to some take place.

  55. LK

    my mother would tell me “if you can’t say something good, then keep your mouth shut.”

    i try, but then that little devil monkey on my shoulder whispers in my ear…

  56. “The National Commission on Social Security Reform was created in response to the actuarial unsoundness of the system.”

    It was said to do that but that was never its real purpose. It was there to give cover to raising taxes on the middle class, thus funding a huge buildup in defense spending, while actually appearing not to raise taxes. A hoax in which both parties participated.

    “The Social Security Trust Funds were moved “off-budget” so that the funds earmarked for the Social Security system would be tracked separately from the rest of the budget. Payroll taxes were 11.4%.”

    however, the money taken in was used for general purposes and not just for social security and therein lies the problem.

  57. @Mike Spindell

    “It was there to give cover to raising taxes on the middle class, thus funding a huge buildup in defense spending, while actually appearing not to raise taxes. A hoax in which both parties participated.”

    It raised taxes on all people earning income, not just the middle class.

    And, that extra revenue went to funding all sorts of nonsense, not just defense spending. In any event, without that increase, assuming it can still be clawed back, the SS system is still actuarially unsound. How doo you propose making it sound? Reduce benefits? Or taxing others to pay for your retirement benefits?

    “and therein lies the problem”

    Indeed.

  58. I’m talking about from the author of the article. Plus anything else from those posting that didn’t listen in their economics class in school.

  59. Ok I must put my 2 cents in because I have personal experience with what it is like to be poor In America and what it is like to live on $1 and $2 a day here and squat.

    This is from year 2000, prices have increased since then.

    Life: forget trying to find metal for housing.. It won’t happen. In fact, trying to make any sort of permanent looking dwelling is a good way to get kicked off land. I found myself a person who had a camp, and I moved in. We were scavengers in the most absolute sense and never begged, or else $1 to $2 a day wouldn’t exist. Through scavenging, $1 to $2 a day was an average find.

    Shelter: tents and tarps, scavenged or bought (more later)
    Camp: lots of time spent digging ditches and erecting tarps to avert major flooding issues
    Cooking: open fires not allowed, no cookware
    Police: stopped and questioned often, couldn’t evict me due to me squatting on private property with no complaint from owner
    Food: $0.25 bought a cup of ramen, hot water donated by whataburger. $0.35 got me A slice of cooked bacon. $0.75 unlimited coffee. $1.07 got me a small burger or breakfast burger. Usually got the coffee, which curbed hunger most and could be consumed for hours with unlimited cream and sugar. Bananas were cheap but unsatisfying. When findings were lower than $0.50 ate from dumpsters. Dumpster food was always always highly processed. (never eat perishable or unpackaged foods)
    Insects: major issue.
    Heat/ac: spent a lot of time at Walmart, whataburger, and library during hot periods. Cold was no problem (Texas)
    Area: semi rural
    Security: none, took 24 hrs to have my bike stolen from the middle of the woods
    Now, had this camp been large or if open fires or permanent structures established, there’d be crackdowns
    Also, tolerance was good due to low population of visible homeless and a lack of begging in area. It worked because there weren’t many. More in another post about big city homeless life

  60. Ok now for what squatting in or near a major city is like:

    1. High population of squatters means harsh treatment. Businesses often refuse service to homeless. Same with publuc factories like libraries.
    2. Begging is outlawed but rampant. Beggars are frequently fined and arrested. My bf had his drivers license blocked from renewal due to anti homeless laws. It cost $600 and 3 days in jail to get it back.this doesn’t include the moths he’d already spent in jail for the crimes of sign holding, camping or sleeping in prohibited areas or at prohibited hours, urinating and defecating outdoors in areas bathrooms were not public for homeless use
    3. Police harassment, confiscation, intimidation, questioning, rampant
    4. High amounts of construction led to homeless camps frequently being razed
    5. Rights, nO legal rights to speak of, and hate crimes numerous. One guy saw a car change lanes at high speeds in the middle of the night just to hit his dog.
    6. Again, no open fires or cooking allowed
    7. Police often confiscated or discarded precious documents, such ass.. They threw my bf’s wallet in the woods. It had his SS card. His identity was subsequently stolen,
    8. Due to begging, lots of fast food and processed food. Hunger was rare. Emergency rooms were only source of medical care. People released with any condition needing clean conditions saw worsening and life threatening conditions develop. Urban homeless never lived on less than $2 a day though,
    Conclusion: it is feasible if you find the right location with a low homeless population, lax laws, and don’t mind dying from open infections, mosquito carrying diseases, never having fresh vegetables, and still live close enough to many businesses
    At least if u get water it will be clean. On the other hand, squatter cities in 3rd world countries is urban and large and full of commerce. You can’t be homeless squatter and a fruit vendor here. 100% of your income is from employment, begging, or drug hookups
    , and stealing

  61. My conclusion here is to merely state, squatting is not feasible here while simultaneously keeping ones civil rights.

    The low rent concrete block housing that exists in 3rd world countries for the poor working class are illegal here, due to federal intervention. The working poor are priced out of housing that matches their incomes due to housing regulations. The only two choices really are to set aside civil rights and squat and possibly die of simple infections, or accept welfare and live in modern housing that is above your means.

  62. Again, I’m saying it is housing regulations and not welfare that is to blame for the inflated lifestyles Of the poor, it is housing regulations and all of the permits and bookkeping necessary for people to run small businesses on the fly. Welfare protects people from losing their civil rights because federal and lical regulations prohibit the lifestyles that come with extreme poverty

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