COMMENTARY | Even though 45 percent of households won't pay any 2010 federal income taxes, it's an unjust talking point for conservatives to use as they whine about how the rich are burdened with supposedly high taxes. Ironically, the wealthiest pay 17 percent to Uncle Sam on average, down from 26 percent two decades ago, based on the latest figures from 2007.
Those 45 percent above still have to endure other taxes and hidden fees of everyday life. For example, in Connecticut, the state tax on fuel for getting to work and doing errands is currently 49.25 cents a gallon, while the feds take 18.4 cents a gallon. Some 67.65 cents make up skyrocketing prices of gasoline there, which has hit four bucks-plus a gallon. The rich may complain about the price at the pump, but higher prices won't deter them.
"Swipe fees" that credit card companies charge to retailers for their services affect everyone, plastic user or not. The average American family pays $230 a year in higher store prices that have been passed on to them. For the rich man, $230 is nothing. For those who live from paycheck to paycheck, $230 extra could come in handy for a car repair or doctor visit.
From 1980 to 2008, the average income of the bottom 90 percent has seen a "raise" of just 1 percent: $303 in earning power that began after Ronald Reagan's failed "trickle down" tax policies helped to redistribute money unfairly to the rich by lowering their tax rates from 70 percent to 28 percent. From 2002 t 2007 alone, the top 1 percent made 67 percent of the income gains as George W. Bush again lowered top tax rates.
Thomas Jefferson, not a fan of taxation, stated, "To compel a man to subsidize with his taxes the propagation of ideas which he disbelieves and abhors is sinful and tyrannical." But the Founding Father also quipped, "I am not among those who fear the people. They, and not the rich, are our dependence for continued freedom."