What ‘Percent’ Are You? The Numbers Behind the Tax Divide Debate
When it comes to dividing up our class structure, the middle is a good place to start — namely, the 60% of households wedged between the poorest 20% and the richest 20%. These families make between $20,001 and $100,065 a year, and were the group hardest hit by the recession: In 2008, their average income fell by 3.6%, thebiggest single-year dropin history. At the same time, they were also devastated by rising unemployment, mass foreclosures, soaring tuitions and frozen wages. By comparison, households below the 20% line often qualify for social welfare programs, were far less likely to own real estate, and were less affected by massive layoffs. In other words, they had less to lose, and ended up losing less.
On the other end of the spectrum, many of those above the 80% line were shielded from the harsher effects of economic downturns. And over the last 30 years, the top 20% have done quite well: Their share of all wages paid in the U.S. has gone from 50% to 60%. Everyone else has lost ground.
The 53% vs. the 47%
The dividing line between the 99% and the 1% is stark, but some argue there’s a better one: The boundary between those who pay income taxes and those who don’t. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, 53% of households pay federal income tax; the rest either break even or get back more in refunds than they pay.
In fact, thesecond-to-lowest20% of the country — households making between $20,001 and $38,043 — get back about 0.4% more income tax than they pay; for families who make less than $20,000, it’s about 6.8%.
Some conservatives — notably on the Tumblr blogWe are the 53%— have taken these numbers to heart, arguing that this means the bottom 47% is getting a free ride. But the 53%/47% division is a bit misleading.
To begin with, almost all households pay state taxes, Medicare tax, Social Security tax, excise taxes, sales taxes, and a raft of other government fees. When this broader, and more accurate, assessment of taxation is used, the 47% doesn’t look to be getting off so easy: Thesecond poorest quintile— the ones that got 0.4% of their income tax back — still paid more 10% of their incomes in various federal taxes.
In fact, when everything is factored in, 86% of the country pays more than it gets back in federal taxes.As for the rest, it’s not the split you might expect: More than half (8% of Americans) are senior citizens receiving Social Security.
And that last 6% — the ones who really pay nothing to the federal government? They are unemployed, disabled, in school, or making very low incomes. But even this small group pays state and local taxes, sales taxes, and other government fees.
Where the Poor Pay More
When it comes to percentage of income, the line is even clearer: For some taxes, the bottom 20% of the Americans pay more than the top 20%. For example, a household on the bottom pays almost 54% more of its income into Social Security than a household on the top. The same goes for excise taxes — fees attached to certain commodities like gasoline and alcohol: As a percentage of income, the poorest 20% pays more than four times as much as the richest 20%.
Video with some simple graphs explaining why some people are protesting.
Saw this on my facebook dash tonight and had to comment about it somewhere.
For one thing, this reminds me of the “elevator-gate” situation where a woman was harassed by a man in an elevator as she was going to bed. She told men in general that is not how you talk to women. It can be very scary for a woman at 3am to be approached in an elevator or some other secluded place. One man dismissed her problem by saying that women have it far worse elsewhere in the world - fanatically religious areas, for example, millions of women and girls have been abandoned to illiteracy, forced marriage, and lives of slavery and abuse. So, because people have it worse elsewhere, we should just ignore problems we have ourselves? Can we (I’m not sure who we is) address their problems without any money, influence, power, etc.?
The other thing is: I think many if not most of the people at these Occupy demonstrations would like nothing more than to see the people in the top section of the picture doing much better. The Occupy demonstrations are fighting for equality for the world, not just for white people (though some cities have had a problem figuring this out, I’ve heard). My hope with these protests, if they could actually work, would be to demand the 1% in this country and others similar to ours, to distribute their wealth not only to help their neighbors, but also to the much less fortunate who do not have access to food or water. Maybe things will never be perfect, but I believe we can do way better in our effort to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet. The people Occupying Wall St and other streets around the world simply do not have the means to help these less fortunate, less privileged/non privileged, people. If our system was set up fairly, many more people could and would contribute much more time and money to others in need of assistance. Look at the money just wasted on wars, “defense,” the bailouts, bonuses, salaries for CEOs compared to the average employee, etc. Then the loopholes, offshore P.O.s, lobbyists, etc. I mean, this is what the fight is against. It’s so fucked up, it’s staggering how this shit hasn’t been sorted out. For the most part, we know what is right/fair. Even though they won’t let on, they know too (the 1%, hell, we all do). But not everyone is willing to stand up for what’s right, clearly not enough are.
For those who agree with the picture, what would you have us do?
Bravo and well said. Thank you. Logical fallacy indeed.
Do you, the person who made this graphic or agrees with it, think any fairness will be brought to these dying children if first world nations do not first get their own priorities in order? Those children don’t seem to be working either. Look at them lazing about holding out their hands begging. Why don’t they get a job? Work harder? Because they do not have the infrastructure or a working economy that supports them. We have a growing class of impoverished homeless people. People will vilify and shun and then reject further when they fall into escapism like drugs. Because currently in the US there are 4 people to every 1 job opening. Because our population is growing and our industries are not. Because technology is advancing and taking over more and more medium skilled positions. Because more and more jobs are outsourced by companies who care more about cheap labor than building infrastructure without it’s “HQ’s” country (if they even still have their HQ here that is). More and more money wil be siphoned from our lower classes, ruining any chances for start up companies or the ability to ask family for some help while you are in school. Or because it is swiftly becoming less profitable to get a university degree. That education has turned into a BAD INVESTMENT for many people. All of these are signs that things are getting worse in this country.
1. Do you really think the people at the top in our country, (who had to unscrupulously fight their way to the top and, once there, then abuse that position to defraud the people in their own community), will help these kids? The fact we even need pause at the thought that perhaps certain diseases are not cured because that would hurt the drug and medical industries dependent upon you being sick to make more money, spells out the problem loud and clear. Do you think THOSE people who helm THOSE callous, profit-driven decisions, will give a rat’s ass about dying kids in Africa? No, the people who CARE are all those “lazy, liberal hippies” occupying your parks or taking a vocal stand otherwise- you know, those people who you are currently scoffing at for giving a fuck.
And no, I am not saying every 1%’er is a callous psychopath, but I bet their father’s are or they are lucky and/or brilliant as hell and hopefully WILL and DO donate money to these hurting people. But if all money lands into the hands of a very small, elite few who have a vastly higher percentage of sociopaths than the rest of the population, these kids are LESS likely to be helped.
2. Furthermore, just as every airplane has the same safety speech on how to put your airmask on in the case of any emergency BEFORE helping your child place on his mask, America must be in a condition to be compassion-oriented before it will ever SHOW compassion. Currently, we are not a nation that values CARING. We are a nation that values money.
Lastly, it isn’t only a personal finger point at some of the 1% who committed legitimate crimes or abuses of system loopholes to effectively steal, but also at the system that ALLOWS this to happen. These are the demands of the movement - accountability of those who committed crimes against the people and changes to the way our government is currently influenced by money.