Random (but not really)

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Tax Burdens

We’re in that interstitial period where people like me who filed their taxes as soon as they could have already gotten their refunds, and the majority of everyone else are dragging their feet, waiting for the last minute.

I’ve discussed this before, but I have always been delighted to pay taxes.

I like paved streets and police and fire departments.

I like public education and after school programs.

I like knowing that families struggling can have a way to help put food on their tables.

I like the elderly and disabled having access to medical care and believe that health care is a right and that no one should have to die because they can’t afford it.

So I’m totally fine with taxes.

What I’m not ok with is how those taxes are paid. Why? Because a greater percentage of income is paid by the poor–those who are least able to afford it.

Here are the numbers for West Virginia:

Lowest 20% Second 20% Middle 20% Fourth 20% Next 15% Next 4% Top 1%
9.4% 9.1% 8.5% 8.8% 8.7% 7.7% 7.4%

The poorest 20% of the population pays 9.4% of their income in taxes. The richest 1% pay 7.4% of their income in taxes.

And to clarify, that is income–what money comes in–not existing wealth.

States without income taxes place a much higher tax burden on the poor than the rich.

Lack of income tax means high taxes for poorer households; low taxes for high-income households

Lack of income tax means high taxes for poorer households; low taxes for high-income households

What does this mean?

That people with second homes and golf course tee times are supported by service workers earning minimum wage.

That those with leisure are supported by those working multiple jobs.

If it was up to me, I’d enact a wealth tax. I’d shift the income tax burden from the poor and to the wealthy.

But of course coming from a poor state, I get almost no saw in any of those–the primaries are generally decided long before we vote, and out-of-state actors have an outsize influence on state politics.

But it doesn’t mean I’m not mad about it.

ITEP: Who Pays?

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