Tuesday, October 11, 2011

I am the 6.5%

I found a site via FB that actually seemed to merit a blog post explaining how working wages and paychecks actually work. The site is called We are the 53%. It's kind of hard to understate how smug and condescending these posts seem to be. To be fair, there are some inspring stories but as a whole I think the site could be titled 'being smug about people who earn less than I do'

Everyone who earns a paycheck pays 1.5% in medicare taxes and 6.4 4.4% (roughly) in FICA or Social security taxes. That's everyone who earns up to about $100k after that you get out of paying FICA - that's what's known as a 'tax break'. If you're self-employed, you get to double that tax break. After these withholdings, you get to pay your income tax based upon your 'tax bracket', and there after you file a return at the end of the year to verify your total tax bill.

With the complexities of the math & deductions(children, mortgages, etc.) involved you can earn so little as to not pay any income tax whatsoever. These people are those 47% of citizens who don't pay taxes. Those people who work crap jobs trying to support kids, a house, etc but don't make enough to pay income tax. However, they don't escape the FICA, medicare, sales, or property taxes from their locales. So while those whiners, complainers, and handout-wanters didn't pay one particular tax because of their low wages, they did not escape the Federal or state taxman.

It's more than likely that these lucky 47% who don't pay taxes mow your lawn, take out your trash, clean your buildings, etc. Some of them are even deadbeats who don't/won't work.

Regardless, having been on both sides of this income breakdown, I'm not so sure what gives these 53% of citizens to look down on their fellow citizen and proclaim how awesome they are because they can *pay* the Federal Income tax. When I was paying *no* income tax, I didn't want these people had and generally considered them jerks. I'm pretty sure the rest of the 47% don't want a handout, but they'd sure like a raise, or some other way to be 'fortunate' enough to pay federal income taxes - I can't speak for any of them of course. However, I think the profound lack of empathy for other suffering people I can speak to, I hope none of these 53% never have the misfortune of being cast in the pit of sodomites that makes up those not in the 53%.

Steve Benen covered this odd meme and I think his words still ring true:
From a purely philosophical perspective, wouldn't a study claiming that nearly half of U.S. households escape paying a federal income tax be good news for a political movement -- as well as its chief media enabler -- that rallies for lower taxes?

Mr. Benen discussed this again as well.