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I just filed my 2009 tax return this morning (yay Turbo Tax!). As always, it's an interesting exercise matching the REALITY of what we really pay in taxes vs the pathetic whining of teabaggers and other conservatives complaining "their money" is being "confiscated" by the government.

I lost my job on January 14, 2009 and was unemployed during the rest of 2009. (Thanks to the efforts of President Obama and the Democrats in stabilizing the economy, things have perked up and I am actually starting my NEW JOB tomorrow! Only 50% of what I was making before, but, hey, at age 56, I'm thrilled). So my 2009 return was a bit of a comedown from previous years.

Income consisted of the following:
My Salary, Commission and Severance: $22,385
Spouses Salary (teacher): $42,899
Unemployment: $27,034 (over $1000 came from extra benefits from stimulus bill)
Interest income: $972
Total AGI: $90,890

Total Deductions: $38,364. These consisted of: mortgage deduction, personal exemption, student load interest, state taxes, real estate taxes, charitable contributions, educator expenses.

Total Taxable Income: $51,256

I also received the following credits: $1000 Child Care Credit, $288 Education credit, $800 Making Work Pay credit.

Total Taxes Paid: $6,125   Tax Rate: 6.74%

That's right: 6.74%

Now, obviously, that's not all I pay in taxes. But for what I get in services from my federal government, goofy and inefficient as it can be sometimes--as Mel Gibson said to the gyrocopter pilot in The Road Warrior:

I reckon you got a bahgain!

Even in past years where my income was 30%-50% higher than now, I never paid more than 17% of my income in federal taxes.

The fact is that, for the most part, Americans get by on the cheap. One of the reasons for our large federal deficits is that, as a society, we demand a lot of services from our government, but we are not willing to pay for them. Of all the teabagger lies, one of the biggest is that they are "self made individuals" who are paying to subsidize services for minorities and "deadbeats". The fact is that most self-identified "teabaggers" receive more in government services than they ever pay for. But they see their roads, clean water, national defense, police and fire protection, mortgage interest and other "suburban" tax deductions, etc as "entitlements"--it's only Negroes and Mexicans who get "welfare".

And, while I am at it, let me again state the reality about the Obama administration and the democrats: for all of their mistakes, for all of their frustrating timidity, the fact is that, without the actions and support of Obama and the Dems, my life would have been considerably worse this year and my future incredibly bleak.

Because of Obama and the Dems, I got more than 33 weeks of unemployment benefits. That allowed me to conserve my resources and savings and keep my house.

Because of Obama and the Dems, I was able to maintain my health insurance under COBRA for $250/mo for myself and family, instead of $800+/month, which I could not have afforded.

Because of Obama and the Dems, the recession was not as bad as it could have been, my wife kept her teaching job, and my new employer was able to add a position.

Those are real-life, meaningful actions. When I lost my job in Jan 2009, as you would expect, I slashed our household budget and set up a "survival" plan. By my calculations, I had enough short-term savings to last until October, before I had to dip into our emergency savings. After that, it would be questionable whether we could keep our house.

Thanks to Obama and the Dems, I not only made it through until now, but I still have 40% of the short-term savings left that I can now put back into some necessary home repairs that had been neglected and some medical bills that had to be put off. I can reconstruct a reasonably decent life--that's one fewer house in foreclosure, one less family on food stamps, one less educated worker having to scrounge at a Wal-job just to get by.

That's what living in a SOCIETY is all about. To me, that's a prime tenet of the progressive philosophy--we help each other when someone is down, and everybody benefits. I am 56 years old--I've had a job since I was 12 years old. Twice now, I have collected some unemployment benefits, otherwise I have never taken (or needed) a penny of government aid. But I never felt "taken advantage of" and never begrudged paying my fair share to help make our society work.

So to all teabaggers: if you want to see some tax cuts--just file your 2009 return. There are plenty of them there.

UPDATE: The fact that this diary made the rec list is the epitome of "Slow News Day"--but I certainly appreciate all the positive comments. This was really just a throwaway piece I had on my mind after I finished filing this morning--I just thought I had a little too much for a comment,so I puffed it up into a small diary.

As Arlo Guthrie once said about "The Motorcycle Song": it's not the best thing I ever wrote. Given the lack of thematic organization, let me reiterate my main points:

  1. I know this is obvious to most progressives, but I wanted to give a real-life example that, for all the teabagger complaints about Obama raising taxes, taxes have actually been lowered for most working Americans.
  1. Unlike Republicans, the Obama/Democratic tax cuts/credits/etc are targeted towards working families. Rather than give a millionaire an extra $10K that they won't even notice, the money is spent in a way that makes meaningful differences in real peoples' lives.
  1. As frustrating and aggravating as Democratic office holders can be, the fact is that they are the only national leaders who are willing--even if it seems halfheartedly at times--to stand up for working Americans--and to stand up for ALL working Americans, not just the white ones. Republicans have contempt for America and Americans. I shudder to think what our economy would be like had McCain been elected and I shudder to think what will happen if liberals/progressives let their disappointment get the better of them and sit on the sidelines in 2010.

I thought it was implied in a number of my statements that I thought (and think) my tax rate--and tax rates in general--are really low compared to the services we expect and receive from our government. In a global political philosophical sense, I would prefer that Obama and Dems not echo Republican attitudes on taxes and tax cuts. But sometimes political reality is what it is and you can't take the high road while your opponents demagogue you to death.

Those who want to discuss tax policy and deficits in more detail are welcome to explore those topics in their own diaries.

Originally posted to Azdak on Sun Feb 14, 2010 at 09:22 AM PST.

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