What does paying your “fair share” mean? President Biden claims he knows, but won’t say.
“All I ask is that you pay your fair share,” Biden said shortly after taking the seat. He reiterated in February, “Make the rich start paying their fair share.”
The president has not yet, however, to attach a number to it – a number that determines exactly what portion of taxpayers’ income the IRS is demanding.
Biden is not alone. Fox News asked every member of the House Ways and Means Subcommittee on Tax Policy that question – 11 Republicans and eight Democrats – to tell us what they believe is a “fair share” for all taxpayers. American.
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Zero gave a response. Remember, these are the members of Congress who are actually assigned to do that job and no one can say what “fair share” means.
What does the public think? Sixty percent of Americans polled by Pew Research last month said the “rich” don’t pay their fair share. Thirteen percent think “low-income” people are not paid enough. Thirty-eight percent are “bothered” by how much they are paid and 56% say they are “paying more than” their fair share.
What do the actual numbers say? According to the Tax Foundation, the top 1% of returns (those earning $550,000 or more) pay 26% of their income in taxes.
In total, that 1% – about 1.5 million taxpayers in that top bracket – pay 42% of federal income from individual income taxes. That’s up from 35%% in 2011.
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The top 10% (those earning $150,000 or more) pay a 20% rate. Put another way, one out of every five labor hours they spend working for the federal government.
The bottom 50% ($42,000 income or less) has a tax rate of 2%. The bottom 40% pay zero income tax and actually make money.
Is that a “fair share” if some are paid nothing? We asked random people in Los Angeles.
“I think it makes sense for everyone to pay something,” said Tiffany, a middle-aged woman from North Carolina. “It’s like how hard my job is, how much I do and how much I tax when there are people, you know, you can just subsidize the government and not have to work.”
Tiffany and her son support lowering rates for 95% of all taxpayers but raising the rate from 37% to 42% for those making $1 million or more.
Nicholas McCune from Denver disagreed.
“I don’t think that, you know, the more money you make, the more taxes you should pay. You know, that’s something that you earned,” he said. McCune favors a 20% flat tax for all earners – no exceptions. “Everybody has to pay something,” he said.
Averi Blackwell, a street performer in Santa Monica, endorses a progressive tax system but favors lower rates.
“Just because you earn more doesn’t mean you have to pay more,” he said. Blackwell favors cutting the current 37% income tax rate for those earning $550,000 and up to 26%, but those earning $100 million a year or more must pay 31%. That’s less than what some liberal Democrats are now proposing.
At a news conference Tuesday, Los Angeles Congressman Jimmy Gomez and several colleagues proposed a 90% tax rate on those making $100 million or more and a 37% minimum tax for anyone making more than $1 million. The federal government will also take 99.5% from any property worth more than $3.5 million.
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Many Democrats favor the Buffett tax, which would close loopholes and require anyone making more than $1 million – no matter how much they earn – to pay a 30% minimum tax. The policy is largely fueled by outliers — the ultra-rich — who the White House says are paid little or nothing at all.
According to a 2021 White House study, the richest 400 billionaire families in the US paid an average federal individual tax rate of just 8.2%. For comparison, the average American taxpayer in the same year paid 13%.
A similar report by ProPublica found that the 25 richest Americans paid a tax rate of just 3.4% — not because they cheated, but because they used loopholes in the tax code provided by Congress to borrow against on their assets to provide income. By not reporting the income, they owe less in taxes.
Attempts by the Biden White House to tax wealthy Americans over the past two years have not gone down well with a Democrat controlled Congress and any prospects for the next two years are equally doomed.
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“When the president says everybody needs to pay their fair share – he means he’s talking about raising taxes on working taxpayers,” said Rep. Jason Smith, R-Mo. Smith is chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, but he also refused to provide an effective tax rate that would represent a “fair share” for all taxpayers.