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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

The myth that the poor don't pay taxes

In the course of political debate, it is often said that the poor do not pay taxes. That simply is not true. Perhaps 47 percent of Americans do not pay income taxes, or get refunds at the end of the year, but everybody pays taxes. Every time you buy something, you pay taxes. Even when you buy food items that do not have sales tax added, the price includes the taxes paid by the store, the farmer and the distributor. And if you drink alcohol or smoke cigarettes, you pay huge taxes. Every time you buy a car or register a vehicle or put gas in the tank, you pay taxes. Whenever you pay rent or make a house payment, you pay property taxes for yourself or the landlord. Even if you have enough deductions to bring your income taxes to zero, you still pay for Social Security, Medicare and Disability. Those are taxes. If you have a private retirement plan, that money will be taxed, sooner or later. Taxes hurt everybody, especially the poor. Raising taxes on the "wealthy", which seems to mean an income of $250 thousand a year, hurts everybody because the costs of those taxes are passed down as surely as rain falls from the sky. Let's talk about what an income of $250 thousand means. It means that you are not a millionaire, that maybe you can send your kids to college, that you can make your house payments unless you foolishly bought too much of a house, that you don't have the wolf at the door every month. It does not make you wealthy. And in this economy, you could lose your job any day, so you had better have some savings. Let's talk about savings. The banks pay less than one percent on savings, which doesn't even come near to meeting inflation. Other investments are risky, and they don't pay that much more. Most mortgages and automobile loans are nowhere near the lowest rate, and many are around ten percent or more. Credit cards can charge as much as 35 percent interest. No, maybe poor people do not pay income taxes, but they do pay somebody else's income taxes every time they buy something or pay their rent. And God save people who have debt! Everybody pays taxes, and everybody is hurt by taxes. ~~~

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