Over the past few years I have become increasing adept at ignoring idiotic liberal bumper stickers. Recently, however, I have noticed one specific bumper sticker that begs an intelligent response.
"I'm not rich enough to receive a tax-cut!" it states, and I argue that those displaying it are just not smart enough to receive a tax cut. I have an easy, one-step solution to the problem, PAY MORE TAXES!
You see, the way the tax system works here in the United States is that every income bracket pays a specific percentage of its income. Since we have a progressive tax system, these percentages increase in relation to income. For example, according to bankrate.com, this year a single filer will pay 10 percent of his or her income up to an amount of $7,150 and 15 percent from there up to $29,050. This rate system continues in increments all the way up to 35 percent of total income for those making $319,101 or more.
So it looks as if everyone is paying some taxes, right? Well not exactly. A fun little thing I haven't mentioned yet is the standard deduction. The standard deduction is a set deduction that every filer gets to take off of his or her amount of taxes due. This year it is set at $4,850 (for a single filer) and by some strange coincidence is actually larger than the total taxes due from the 10 and 15 percent brackets. Hmmm … so it would now appear that a rather large percentage of Americans are paying no federal income taxes at all.
As a matter of fact, the bottom half of income earners in this country pays only 3.97 percent of the total taxes. The upper half of earners, on the other hand, are chipping in 96.03 percent of the total bill (the upper 5 percent pays 53.25 percent), according to the Internal Revenue Service's data for 2001.
One of the counter-arguments I often hear is that "the millionaires are the only ones getting a tax cut," and there are two major fallacies with this statement. First, the cutoff for the upper and lower 50 percent of earners is $26,000, so there is an obvious majority of the people paying taxes for the poor who are not millionaires. Second, everyone gets a relatively similar percentage of the taxes they paid back in the form of a tax cut, so everyone who is actually paying taxes gets a break, not just the rich.
As my finance professor Dr. Timothy Gallagher so eloquently explained last semester: "You aren't getting a tax cut because you aren't paying taxes. It isn't politics, it's math!"
Perhaps the funniest part about all this is that many of those complaining are not only paying zero taxes but are also receiving free money from the government. Welfare, federal tuition assistance, school lunch programs and many, many other programs pay out billions of dollars every year to the very ones who now scream about getting a tax cut.
So there you have it, all the proof that you need to come to your senses and remove that insanely ignorant bumper sticker from your car, or even your friend's car for that matter. Oh, and by the way, if anyone knows of somewhere I can get an "I'm not poor enough to mooch off of the government's generosity!" sticker, please let me know.
Ryan Chapman is a junior marketing major. His column runs every Wednesday in the Collegian.