Hanson: Why Not Pay Higher Taxes?

The usual liberal complaint against the conservative opposition to higher income taxes is greed and the better-offs’ self-serving reluctance to pay their “fair share.” But while perhaps true in some instances, I don’t think that is an accurate writ against most of those in that now demonized $200,000 and above categories who resent forking over more. Rather, here are a random 12 complaints that I hear from those who become furious about preposed higher income tax rates:

1) The Entire Bite

The most common lament is that taxes are already too high for those who either chose not, or do not have the resources, to find loopholes. I know that pre-Reagan top-bracket rates were often between 70%-94%; but few paid at those rates given the myriad of former deductions. At first glance, 33-35% federal top rates do not seem that steep; but income taxes do not fall in isolation. Many of the higher-income payers are small business people and self-employed professionals, who pay 15.3% in FICA and Medicare taxes on a sizable and growing portion of their income. And that portion and the rate itself always go up, never down. In 2013 a surcharge will hit those in the now near “criminal” $200,000 and above brackets. Many of the top incomes (believe Sen. Schumer, not me) fall in high-tax states like New York and California, where state income taxes can hit 10%. Add in property taxes on homes and businesses, and it is not hard to envision a theoretical 50% + rate, or over half one’s income. So, the conservative asks, at what total rate would local, state, and federal governments be happy — 60%-70%-80% of annual income?

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