Dodging taxes – the “fair share” argument

[Note: this isn’t really an article, but merely a cut/paste of a comment I left to someone trying to argue that the wealthy don’t pay their “fair share” with regard to taxes. When I challenged, saying the wealthy pay far more than what is fair, the person challenged and brought up the Panama Papers.]

How much in taxes do you think they pay? I mean the richest 20% of tax payers pay over 2/3rds of the taxes.

I’ve been in the 25% tax bracket since I got married 5 years ago. This year, I’ll barely avoid the 28% tax bracket for next year’s tax returns. How much more do you think I should be paying?

For 2014, those earning $100,000 or more accounted for 85% of the total income tax burden according to IRS data.1 How much more do you think they should be paying? I’d say that’s far, far more than fair.

And yes I’ve heard of the Panama Papers. Are you saying the wealthy aren’t entitled to keep what they’ve earned? Oh wait, you must think they stole all that wealth from the “little guy”.

[The person in question then said I was being “gouged” on my taxes, that the middle class pays most of the taxes (not true — those with AGIs exceeding $250,000 accounted for 55% of income tax liability in 20142), while accusing the megawealthy of “tax dodging”. She also brings up the old canard that high tax rates weren’t bad for the economy.]

Everyone looks for ways to lower their tax burden. The wealthy have access to advisors who can point them in particular (hopefully legal) directions.

I’m not saying I’m being gouged, though I’d certainly like to pay less than 25% just in Federal income taxes — especially since I don’t have really anything in the way of allowable deductions. At the same time, given what I said, you now know approximately how much my household income was this year. You may not consider me “megawealthy”, but you still didn’t answer my question: how much more do you think I should pay? How much more than that 25% do you think I should be paying? 28%? 30%? 35%? 50%? How much do you think is “fair”?

And, at the same time, what makes that tax rate “fair” for me, but unfair for those making less than me?

Again, those who make 6-figures and up already account for 85% of the tax liability, despite accounting for only 57% of aggregate household incomes (in other words, they are 57% of the total, not 57% of households). How much more do you think we should pay?

And unless the wealthy are using illegal methods of moving assets to avoid taxes, they’re not tax dodging. They’re doing what they legally can to pay the least possible in taxes. And I’m sure that if you had the same resources, and wealth, you’d be doing the same. I doubt you’d be one of the self-righteous wealthy who’d voluntarily pay more than they’re legally obligated…

Instead you’re accusing the wealthy of “tax dodging”, which basically means you think that you, by proxy of the government, have a claim to their wealth and/or income. And I’m saying you don’t. If the wealthy want to use every legal means necessary to hide their wealth to avoid taxes, then so be it.

It doesn’t matter the effect higher tax rates might have on the economy. I’m talking about the fairness of forcing higher tax rates on those who make more only because they make more, while accusing them of not paying their “fair share” if they try to lower their tax burden. Yet I don’t see you willing to pony up 50% of your income to the IRS. Show me evidence you’ve done that and then we’ll have something to talk about without you sounding like a hypocrite.

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