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July 6, 2015

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Letter to the editor:

Define ‘fair share,’ then we’ll pay it

Another view?

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The Aug. 17 letter to the editor “Nation functions when taxes paid” left me a little confused as to what the writer’s message was. I agree the federal government needs taxes to function in important areas like national defense, which benefit us all. I have doubts about other areas of spending that do not benefit all.

The author mentions paying one’s “fair share” to support the federal government. Who is he talking about? I assumed he meant the nearly 50 percent who pay no federal income taxes, but later he speaks of a plutocracy which makes me think he means the multimillionaires in government. Who?

Finally, what’s a “fair share?” Everybody, the president included, seems to use the term freely, but nobody defines it. Let’s hear specifics. Maybe then things will be clearer.

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  1. It seems at times that a social progressive defines "fair share" to mean that those who are productive and capable of paying taxes should have a standard of living that is no better than those who do not contribute to a productive society.

    It should be pointed out that the tax-paying class has been shrinking in numbers. Currently, as the letter mentioned, only 50% approximately of US households have a federal income tax liability. What will happen as that number continues to go down? What will happen if it goes to 45% or even 40%?

    It is beginning to look like it is all too feasible that the elected officials who are making the determination of who is deserving of what services, of who is most capable of paying for others to have those services, who put social justice and equality above everything else, will also decide that in order to make those decisions they must be "above the fray" by not being subject to the hardships they are trying to remove.

    Socrates proposed that in his "Republic" a couple of thousand years ago. More recently we have seen it portrayed in "Animal Farm." A close look at Congress suggests that it has already been put into practice to some extent. After all, who is more "equal" than those who tell us just what equal is?

  2. Funny, I didn't know that Apple, at least while Steve Jobs was at the helm, was a Republican based corporation. Seeing as it is now the most valuable company in the world one can only what it is doing with its massive profits that result from what can reasonably be called indentured servitude.

    Of course, one can always look to Bill Gates, who can hardly be called a Republican. True, he has made many large donations from his personal wealth. But how much of that wealth is the result of his using as many people as possible who are here on H1B work visas? (And he wants the limit on number of those issued lifted completely.)

    Beyond that, how many millions of everyday working stiffs who are lucky enough to have a 401k plan are depending upon that very "corporate greed" to provide them with funds to retire on?

    No, the shrinking tax-payer class is not only the result of layoffs or the Republican Party. Social policy decisions have played a large role in this as well as legislation passed and/or signed by Democrats as well over the last 50 years.

  3. Dear Philip: "Fair share" among the parasitic class simply means - you pay, I spend; you work, I don't; you suffer, I benefit. They are a greedy and uncaring bunch; taking from future generations - even their own descendants - without conscience or remorse. They want "theirs" and they want it now! We can change that come this November by voting Romney & Ryan. Do it or suffer the consequences of more of the same: prolific spending, higher deficits, less freedom of choice, more government rules & regulations, the coddling of criminals & illegals, the acceptance of perversion, continued crony capitalism and a lower standard of living for the many so the few can remain in the wagon and on the dole.

  4. "Romney's Mormon religion requires that he pay a so-called donation of ten percent.."

    The Bible proposes tithing/gifting 10 percent of the first fruits to God in appreciation for all one's blessings and graces that come from Him. Mormons didn't invent it. They follow the Bible's teachings.

    Romney paid more to I.R.S. in taxes. 13 percent of adjusted gross income, based on 2010 and 2011 taxes, and based on his word which I believe, each year for the past 10 years and likely even more. I opine he learned and inherited the beliefs of his family for both his religion and taxes.


  5. Fair share is an oxymoron when it comes to gifting and compared to obligatory paying of taxes. Why? Because gifting and/or tithing is done voluntarily not by force. Like the poor widow who put 2 pennies into the Temple treasury box during Jesus' time. It was from her heart. Not like the tax that she had to pay to Caesar which was obligatory as a subject of the Roman empire. Same with us and I.R.S. taxes. We don't give voluntarily. We give because we are required by law. Big difference. If we don't we go to jail.


  6. Abraham Lincoln created the first federal income tax to pay for the Civil War.

    William Howard Taft favored the 16th Amendment instituting the federal progressive income tax.

    Herbert Hoover increased the top income tax rate from 24 to 63 percent in 1932 during the Great Depression.

    Dwight D. Eisenhower had tax rates at 90% to build our super highways and pay down the budget.

    Richard Nixon raised the capital gains tax rate from 25 to 35 percent in 1969.

    Gerald Ford signed legislation raising the minimum tax on the wealthy and dumping some loopholes used by the wealthy.

    Ronald Reagan was for capital gains being taxed as ordinary income and raised taxes seven times.

    George H.W. Bush (read my lips) raised taxes as well.

    The point being each of these Republican presidents had hard decisions to make to restore the economy, and didn't bow or kow tow to the wealthy, because these leaders were more concerned with stabalizing the country. Something lacking in the present GOP, "Country First", my arse. It should be "donations first", maybe then I'll vote on important issues.

    If Grover Norquist approached these gentlemen I can hear, sign what?" and promptly toss him out on his butt, deservedly so.

  7. So many of you are angry at the wrong enemy. Bradley, as one example among many, is angry at Romney for his use of the income tax code, created and enabled by our elected representatives in Congress, to reduce his taxes to the greatest extent possible. Why aren't Bradley and others also angry at the guy making 60 K that does the same thing?

    Also, I have to ask these people; if you made 50 million dollars, would you not use every thing in the tax code to pay the smallest tax possible, just as you would if you made 60 K. Honest people would answer yes.

    Our representatives wrote and write the income tax code that allows Romney and the wealthy to pay 13 % in income tax on 200 million dollars, allows 50 % of Americans to pay no income taxes, and allows some people to get refunds who paid no taxes. Whatever it is that 'angers' each person, it seems to me that this 'anger' should not be directed at those that do what the income tax code allows, but instead at those that wrote the code.

    This whole income tax issue seems to be 'the' campaign issue for President Obama and the D's in 2012. I have to ask, if this is such an important issue, why wasn't it addressed by President Obama and his majorities in both the House and Senate in the period from 2008 to 2010?


  8. "Herbert Hoover increased the top income tax rate from 24 to 63 percent in 1932 during the Great Depression."

    How did that work out for the country Mr. Branco?


  9. "William Howard Taft favored the 16th Amendment instituting the federal progressive income tax."

    If I recall correctly Mr. Branco, it was actually his predecessor Teddy Roosevelt who did. Correct me if I'm wrong. But Roosevelt couldn't get it passed. Roosevelt and Taft parted ways politically and Taft compromised with the powers to be in those days to get the tax passed asa flat tax.

    It's been down hill since tax wise.


  10. Mr. Branco;

    Sad isn't it that Clinton has been out of office since 2001, and Obama is looking to Clinton's admin as the economic standard bearer for dems. Can't even look to himself and his own admin for the last 4 years. But has to go back over 10 years for help. What does that say about the country's straits? Dire comes to my mind.


  11. "If Grover Norquist approached these gentlemen I can hear, sign what?" and promptly toss him out on his butt, deservedly so."

    Neither have Romney-Ryan in 2012. Which is the only year that counts.


  12. "In reply to Carmine; if you believe Romney on paying his fair share of taxes, I'm sure he could easily sell you a block of the bridge that goes from the Hawaiian Islands to Los Angeles, California."

    Mr. Chapline:

    I asked about it. He said you have the first right of refusal. Have at it! Congrats.


  13. The income tax code badly needs to be rewritten for the following reasons:

    1) We now have a huge Federal government with huge expenses which we refuse to reduce, so we need a code that extracts much higher taxes from every American

    2) There are far too many complexities and loopholes in the code that it invites people to find ways to avoid taxes.

    3) It is grossly unfair that someone with a 200 million dollar income can pay 13 % in income taxes and it is grossly unfair that 50 % of Americans that have an income pay no income taxes.

    What we should all be asking is why, when all this inequity exists, and tax receipts are only 60 % of what is required, do both parties not act to totally re-write the income tax code?


  14. Jahreb,

    I would not support asking someone to pay 30 % in taxes on a $ 16,000 income. I also don't support asking nothing of them.

    Here is my thinking on this:

    If we allow someone making 125 million dollars to pay 13 % in income taxes, that person does not need to care how much money the government spends, whether 60 % of it is borrowed or printed and really anything else.

    Likewise, when you exclude people of limited means from paying 'any' income tax, that person does not need to care how much money the government spends, whether 60 % of it is borrowed or printed and really anything else.

    I favor fixing both of those issues. Unfortunately, you and many others on the Progressive side as well as those on the Conservative side, take people on the opposite side and ascribe the worst motives possible to them and stick them with the most radical view possible. As with a lot of people on both sides, that 'suit' doesn't fit me.


  15. We NEED all Americans to pay taxes. And we need to expel non-Americans and those here illegally draining our infrastructure. Those who've received social welfare benefits need to man-up and woman-up and find a way to PAYBACK for all they've taken.

  16. Explain how it is that removing a few of the refundable credits / welfare programs from the tax code is a tax increase for those who have never paid anything other than a few bucks in SS / Medicare withholding? Skewed logic. We must get the tax code to deal with revenue, not welfare. The overlap of local, state, and federal programs is providing too much to the takers who can live as well as the long lost "middle class."

  17. Nobody ever mentions the the risk capital Mitt used to make his millions and pay the millions in taxes as well as the millions he gave to charity, they only dwell on a percentage. There is no mention of the fact instead of paying more taxes the money went to business investment creating jobs and commerce thru tax code allowing deductions and preferences. The tax code allows you to take a home mortgage deduction, do you forgo that and other deductions and pay tax on the gross income you earn? NO! then you are as guilty as Mitt not paying your "fair share".
    Want fair share? It will have to be a consumption tax of some sort, on all goods and service, maybe $1 a gallon on gas and diesel. This would affect everyone in some way and all would pay. But I doubt it would be fair to those who don't pay taxes now.

  18. The risk capital Mitt used. His finances are so secretive you don't have a clue about his investment strategy or what his money has been used for.
    after the NASDAQ blew up years ago subpoenas were issued and investment advisors were questioned about how much money they had invested in the stocks they were buying their customers. 97% of investment advisers had no money in the NASDAQ whatsoever. Wall Street is commission based and many advisers have no skin in the game whatsoever.

    Rusty... I wouldn't worry too much about the illegal aliens. They are leaving this country in droves. Reports of commode over the last few months from the agricultural community indicate that there are labor shortages all across the country. Billions of dollars worth of food is rotting in the fields.

    The fair share issue is a complicated one. With half the individuals paying no income tax. Two thirds of corporations pay no income tax. I would define fair share as substantially more than zero.

    Tax avoidance is a national pastime. The tax code is so filled with loopholes it's like a piece of Swiss cheese. Every special interest group has something in the tax code that benefits their cause. Throw the tax code out and get your money from consumption. Americans love to spend money. There is $700 trillion worth of consumption coming down the pike over the next few decades and that's where the money is going to have to come from to cover Medicaid, Social Security, Medicare, and various other programs. You not going to get it from the current US tax code.

    The letter writer gives the military is an example of something that benefits us all. Really! I would argue that the American people have gotten very little for their investment in the Korean War, Vietnam War, as well as the current debacles. I believe education, roads bridges infrastructure Social Security and Medicare have done more for this country than the military. Especially in the post-World War II era.

  20. Antigov,

    I agree about the FICA tax. The cap should be gone. You would probably shoot part of the group you want to help by taxing capital gains at 30 %. Many people who are not wealthy, like me, use capital gains income to supplement regular earned income. If we were to tax capital gains income, you'd probably want to do it on a progressive scale and set the tax at a low rate for those that are not 'wealthy' ... however we choose to define that.

    There is one thing both Conservatives and Progressives like you need to acknowledge as you support your side. Over many years, both parties have had ample opportunity to do as you suggest... and have not. The latest and greatest opportunity was for President Obama and the D's between 2008 and 2010... and they did not do it either.

    If we are fair, we must conclude that powerful forces with lobbyists who would be impacted by these changes trade money and support for 'both' parties to see to it that legislation like this never sees the light of day. Talking about it and using it to pillory the opposing party is allowed, but actually doing anything... NOT!!!!


  21. The Republican party has been "Rope-A-Doped" by the Democrats twice before Vernos. The deal with Reagan was, he agreed to a tax increase if the Dems decreased spending. They agreed!! Wonderful. A great way to balance the budget. Raise Income and decrease spending. The taxes were raised, the spending cuts promised by the Dems never materialized.

    Next Republican President, Mr "Read my Lips, No new taxes" Bush. Same scenario. The taxes were raised, the spending cuts promised by the Democrats never materialized.

    Never give the Dems a tax increase under any circumstances. They'll just spend the proceeds on a new "Crippled children without frizbees" program that starts the first year of funding at $65,000, but 20 years from now it will be a 50 billion dollar boondoggle (read thousands of government workers handing out frizbees, made in China).

    Of course it will be reported that the agency in charge of free frizbee handouts has been overpaying by a factor of 6,000 percent, and when the Republicans try to reduce or eliminate the program, The daughter of Debbie Wasserman Schultz, now a congresswoman from the Mexican protectorate of California, will whine that you can deprive poor cripple children of their frizbees. You cold hearted Republican B_____s

    Don't ever agree to a tax increase as long as Democrats are in control of the spending. EVER. Democrats are not honest or trustworthy perios but specifically when they spend any money that is not their own in a responsible way.

    EVER !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  22. Tom you need to get out of the world of phantasmagoria. There are 150 million people in this country getting government assistance. There are only about 50 million registered Democrats. Democrats, Republicans and independents are lined up at the welfare window in droves. That's where the money's going. Not to Frisbees.

    To address your point I doubt that there are any companies in the United States that still make Frisbees.

  23. Antigov,

    I understand. You still have both parties that talk about tax reform but neither one actually does what needs to be done.


  24. Victor_Eismine - "Based on 2009 numbers, 61% of those not paying taxes don't make enough money."

    "An additional 22 percent of people who did not pay federal income taxes in 2009 are people aged 65 or older who have modest incomes (and do not have earnings)."

    The remaining 17 percent includes students, people with disabilities or illnesses, the long-term unemployed, and other people with very low taxable incomes"

    Excellent point Victor, these right wing radicles would prefer to drain blood from a stone than to tax the wealthiest to help restore the economic damage done to the country. It wasn't poor hard working people that caused the bottom to fall out, but they sure as hell are used as scape goats by the very people who caused our economy to fail.

    I still ask why these large corporations who are making huge profits still receive subsidies? Why are people like Michele Bachmann receiving funds from the government for her business?

  25. Debt is about 100% of GDP. If we want to stimulate GDP growth, and job growth,cut corporate
    tax rates, eliminate the income tax at Fed level, and move to a consumption tax. Cut the size of government. Reform transfer payments for Medicare and Soc Security. Tweak elgibilty dates for anyone under 55. Increase FICA contibutions.Retain Medicaid for poor. Do these things now!Institure a flat tax of 30% on any income above $10 million a year.

  26. Bradley,

    I read the entire article and I cannot argue with the fact that this 'could' be a reason that Romney isn't disclosing more than two years of tax returns.

    Here is the problem I have with you and all the other true believers that either support R's or D's.

    'Probable Cause' is what you say in your letter. It is possible that he does have foreign accounts, is hiding them and that is why he won't release more taxes. However, there could be a multitude of reasons he isn't releasing tax returns that have nothing to do with foreign accounts or anything else nefarious.

    The reason 'probable cause' is used is most likely because you believe and want to believe that the guy is a tax cheat. You don't like him, don't support him and don't agree with his policies.

    That's backward logic. There is no proof he's done anything wrong. There is suspicion because he won't release more returns. So it would be proper and fair to read the times article and conclude that Romney might have cheated, but not that there is 'probably cause' to believe that.


  27. Nearly all of the businesses that have gone bust and mass layoffs have been due to what economists call "lax demand". Half the country is flat ass broke. The bulk of our economy is driven by consumption. There is nothing anyone can do about the wealth destruction that has decimated the country. Demand is drying up all over the world, unemployment is rising worldwide and there will be another worldwide recession soon. Recession number 48 for the United States.

    In addition the US economy is a mature economy with an aging population. Mature economies grow slower than developing economies and consumption drops off as people age.

    The above factors combined with intense foreign competition are problems that won't be corrected for decades.

    If you look at net worth figures the United States from peak to trough the country lost $20 trillion. When Ronald Reagan took office the entire United States was worth about $10 trillion. The wealth lost is twice what the entire country was worth several decades ago.

  28. At least Romney paid some taxes. There are thousands of millionaires in this country that pay nothing.

    The reason these politicians aren't coming up with solutions to the problems is that the problems are unsolvable in the short-term. You can do whatever you want with the tax code, regulations and government employment and you won't even feel it.

    Going to a flat tax and cutting medical costs would raise tremendous revenue and save trillions on the expenditure side of the equation, but try taking on the medical lobby and the various lobbying groups that represent the accountants in this country. I worked on medical issues for many years and couldn't get to first base.

  29. Bob,

    Excellent suggestions but here are the roadblocks.

    Both parties recognize that a key to popularity for them at election time is to be able to provide things to voters. Less money available makes this more difficult.

    Also, the base of one party consists of many people of limited means. These people support that party 'because' they provide services and money to them. Fixing the tax code could seriously put at risk the loyalty of these voters if there was less money to buy their votes. In addition, there is a powerful lobby that lobbies Congress on behalf of the people and companies that make a lot of money off entitlement spending.

    A big part of the other party are social conservatives and although they deny it, they want to use government to push their conservative social agenda on people who do not agree with them. Also part of the supporters of this party are many who believe in a strong national defense and others that make a lot of money off military spending. They too have lobbyists that don't want to see those areas of the budget cut or tax law changed.

    In conclusion, we have two parties that have very little real interest in changing things on taxes or spending and on top of that, we have people in Congress that are beholden to powerful interests with lobbyists that like and want the status quo.

    Good luck to us....


    As I stated above paying your fair share should be more than zero. What's the incentive for low income people do pay taxes when many of the nations highest income earners don't.
    As Leona Helmsley once said," We don't pay taxes, only the little people pay taxes". Spoken like a true billionaire.

  31. The reason Romney doesn't want to disclose years of tax returns is that he is afraid of an audit. Many of the tax avoidance practices that these folks engage in is questionable to say the least. These people get audited and end up owing millions in back taxes and penalties.

  32. Michael

    We need some deal makers.


  33. "In reply to Mr. DiFazio; Carmine, Carmine, Carmine; my reply to you was not intended to bait you into a childlike response concerning the make believe bridge from Hawaii to California. It was merely to illustrate the probability of Romney not being straight-up in paying his fair-share of taxes."

    I replied to your comment in kind and in the same vein as yours.


  34. Phillip - you should offer your opinion on what a fair share is. I say 15% nominal and minimum, of the grand total deductions or no deductions.

    The fact is that language is not qualified to deliver the exact same idea to everyone. Language is the problem. Each word has a range of meanings and definitions that are different from others.

    Math is math - it is only Logic, but when you say 'Fair' it is a subjective word. By asking for a fair share, you prevent a solution to the problem forever into the future. There is no such thing as a fair share for everyone.

    How about 'what a person owes to keep a Democracy running?' #1 With war and #2 without war. Two levels.

  35. The following is an outline of a growth, transfer payments and tax plan for the U.S.

    Debt is about 100% of GDP. If we want to stimulate GDP growth, and job growth,cut corporate tax rates to 25%, eliminate the individual income tax at Fed level, and move to a consumption tax. Reform transfer payments for Medicare and Social Security. Adjust the eligibility ages for anyone under 55. Increase FICA contributions. Retain Medicaid for poor. Do these things now! Institute a flat tax of 30% on any adjusted gross income above $10 million a year. Remove all deductions for individuals.

  36. "In reply to Mr. DiFazio; as usual, you are deflecting from the point of the issue at hand. You're afraid that I'm right about Romney in the link that has been provided that gives probable cause to Romney's dishonesty;"

    Yeah, right. I use to read the NY Times, the Grey Lady, many years ago when it provided mental and physical exercise. It does neither now.


  37. BChap: post your tax returns so we can see that you paid your "fair share." Dollars to dougnuts, you're in the wagon; not pulling it!

  38. "What do the republicans do, then???"

    No problem. Romney-Ryan win on Nov 6. They've already said the Bush Tax cuts would be extended another year and there would be no spending cuts in 2013. Why? Simple. To ward off the recession and 9 percent unemployment forecasted by the CBO if they [tax increases and spending cuts] go into effect.

    You really should stay current on events, especially during an election year.


  39. No, teamster, the middle class loses with either Romney or Obama.