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Every person - Republican, Democrat, or Independent running for federal or state office should be asked this simple question -

"Do you pay 15% or more of your total income in Federal income tax?"

Answer - yes - response - "Thank you for your contribution to running our Government"

Answer - no - response - "Then what makes you think you deserve to be elected, when you are not even prepared to pay a fair price for the Government on which our country is built?" or "Then why do you, a tax dodger, think you can tell me, a tax payer, how the government should be run?"

All candidates earning $100k or more should have paid 15% or more total Federal income tax over the last three years. Many, in fact, do not.

We can't enforce it legally, but I'd like to see every person asked that question. People can reduce their incomes a lot, but if they aren't prepared to pay, they shouldn't be allowed to play...

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Comment Preferences

  •  I understand what you're getting at but remember (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, FG, sowsearsoup, Polly Syllabic

    half of us pay no income tax as we don't make enough. Our tax burden is in payroll and especially local and state taxes.

    “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

    by ban nock on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:06:22 AM PDT

  •  It is almost impossible (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    VClib, FG

    for someone with an AGI over $100K to pay less than 15% federal income tax. Say, though, that someone who makes that amount is married with several children, donated generously to charity, had mortgage interest payments to deduct, etc., and was able to reduce his or her federal tax below 15%, totally legally. What again is our problem with that guy?

    •  It's actually very easy... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, lordcopper

      ...to pay <15%.  If you're self employed, or your income is in dividends or carried interest or any of dozens of other tricks. My income is high-ish, and I pay maybe 20% after allowances... but I could legally pay a lot less if I wanted, I just don't want to...

      •  If you are self-imployed, the only (0+ / 0-)

        way to reduce your taxes below what everyone else pays is to cheat. You are saying that being self-employed opens up opportunities to cheat (by inflating expenses, etc.). But we're supposed to be talking about legal strategies. And say the person is a partner at a private equity shop (not a hedge fund, as hedge funders generally are not able to take advantage of long-term capital gains rules) and enjoys the benefit of carried interest. If that candidate is for ending the carried interest benefit, isn't that all that counts? Or are you saying that you'd expect a private equity partner to actually treat their income as ordinary when by today's tax code it is clearly capital?

        •  Yes... (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          ban nock

          ...I am actually saying that. My brother-in-law is a partner and does pay less than 15% because of that, which is fine and legal. But at the point he wanted to run for office, he should voluntarily pay the difference to bring him up to the minimum. He wouldn't be forced to legally, of course, but it would allow him to take the moral high ground, if asked, no?

          •  I disagree. (1+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            OrganicChemist

            The law is the law. It's enough for me that a politician says they want to get rid of stuff like this. To expect them to basically donate money to the US treasury sounds like a shakedown. All of us who pay some amount of our taxes based on capital gains or dividend rates are taking advantage of rates that we may feel are too low. But who, really, sends in an extra check just to be patriotic? I think that is pretty silly actually.

    •  not true (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock
      It is almost impossible for someone with an AGI over $100K to pay less than 15% federal income tax.
      No. At exactly $100k, you are going to have a significant percentage difference between AGI and taxable income if you have multiple kids and a mortgage. No Cayman Island schemes required.

      The $1k child tax credit and the child care deductions--pitiful compared to the support for the raising of children in many western European democracies--are substantial to a $100k family, and not so much to a $500k family.

  •  If you make e.g. 60k (more than average (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    darkmatter, ban nock

    household income) you legally pay less than 15% in federal income tax in many cases. Without any loopholes. And if you make more and have kids and a mortgage you can pay less than 15% as well. Why is it a problem? Vast majority of people don't use tax dodges.

    •  I agree -- I think it's quite common (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      darkmatter

      I've made in the six figures for over a decade and I don't think I've ever owed as much as 15 percent in federal tax for any one year.  I'm not sure why the diarist's fixation is on that rate.

      •  Fixation! (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        FG

        :-) not really fixated on a particular rate. Could be anything. Like you I make what most would consider a fair amount. And my taxes are generally less than an employed person paid through a payroll, and that's all good.  but a) I'm not running for office and b) there has to be some minimum %age number where you have just morally opted out of being involved in the running of the Government.

        Let me put it another way.  If not 15%, then what?  If a person pays 10% or 5%??  or nothing?   At what point do you just say, wow, you really are working those laws, which is fine, but if you don't want to pay for the government then why do you want to run it?

        •  Well, based on my experience (3+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          darkmatter, ban nock, ypochris

          15 percent is too high because one can easily pay less at the $100K to $200K annual pay level without resorting to exotic or intricate tax dodging strategies. I don't do anything special -- I have a couple of kids I could deduct until recently, give a moderate amount to charity, have a relatively small mortgage, have a health care reimbursement account through my employer, and save the maximum to a 401K (or did until I was transferred out of the country for work) -- and I typically paid between 11 and 14 percent per year in federal taxes.

          The most exotic thing I did when preparing taxes was to buy TurboTax deluxe from Costco in January of each year, and just fill in the blanks.  I've never been audited, so perhaps my tax returns have not been officially validated by the IRS, but I think they'd pass muster. That's why I've long held that tax rates are too low and should be raised. I (and others like me) should be asked to pay more because we can afford it.  People scraping by on $30K to $70K with families cannot (or cannot as readily).

          People making $300K or $500K or more should definitely be asked to pay more, as they have far more disposable income.

    •  $60k wouldn't be subject... (0+ / 0-)

      ...but at $100k (the lower limit) with a basic rate of 25ish% even with allowances you would expect to pay 15+% total...

  •  My sole criticism.... (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Chi

    ..... of this Diary and the ideas underlying it is that we need more representation in Congress from those not making enough to owe 15% in federal taxes.

    (Such are currently void of Congressional representation despite being estimated as as much as one-third of American adults.)

    But as for those making six figures? You bet! Pay a net 15% or better, or stay the F away!

    "I have to remember that while Jesus dined with publicans, there is no record of his consorting with Republicans." -- entlord

    by thanatokephaloides on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 08:26:32 AM PDT

    •  Agreed... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ban nock, thanatokephaloides

      ...but typically if you're earning, say $150k, you're working for a company or self-employed paying regular tax at >15%.  If you're on $500k then you are able to dodge a lot of tax.  Buffett pays around 17% but he could pay less if he wanted...

      I'm all for people on lower incomes running (and wouldn't be subject to the rule). but people like me? Above a certain level, I should pay a bare minimum of tax even if I could legally dodge it...

  •  there's six figures... (0+ / 0-)

    ...and then there's six figures.  And are we talking about household or individual income?  Median salary in the US is $43k, so a household with two working spouses is already at $86k.  If one spouse makes a bit more, suddenly their married-filing-jointly income approaches your arbitrary line in the sand. I don't get it.

    All I can say is that $100k and, say, $400k are worlds apart, especially if you have kids.  A $100k, two-worker household with three kids and a mortgage is going to pay less than 15% effective tax rate after the common deductions/credits (children, standard, mortgage interest, state/local taxes) are applied.

    Yes, fewer millionaires in Congress would be a good idea, but you need to adjust your numbers to get the rich, tax-loophole-using folks you are likely after.

    •  two working spouses = $51K (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      ypochris

      http://www.census.gov/...

      Many people making $100K have little idea how rich they are. To them it seems like they barely scrape by. People making a million feel similarly. A hundred K seems extremely comfortable for those in the bottom 4 quintiles.

      The top quintile in 2012 begins at $104K.

      “Conservation… is a positive exercise of skill and insight, not merely a negative exercise of abstinence and caution…” Aldo Leopold

      by ban nock on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 12:35:53 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  your source is deficient (0+ / 0-)

        It does not say anything about workers per household.  It only gives the median household income nationally. See here for data on workers per household (2011 info).

        More workers per household translates to higher household income.  According to the census data above, 61.0% of US households have one or fewer earners.  Of the households that have two or more earners, 69.3% of them are in the fourth and fifth quintiles.

        Census data state a mean number of 1.3 earners per household.  See HINC-05 here.

        None of this gets us to a functioning definition of "rich."

  •  Thanks... (0+ / 0-)

    Interesting comments, thanks to all.  I think my lower limit is wrong (needs to be >250k at least) and maybe the percentage as well, who knows...

    Primarily my point was that, if you want to be candidate to RUN for government, there should be some generally agreed fair amount that you should expect to PAY for government.   It doesn't need to be a legal requirement, but it does need to be simple and easily understandable like the '1%' thing was. It has to resonate...

    Like I say, though, thanks for the perspectives...

  •  Careful there... (0+ / 0-)

    ...by the same logic, you could make the argument to restrict voting to those paying "15% or more of your total income in Federal income tax."

    Probably not a good idea.

    "In whose delusional mind is democracy made better by allowing wealthy people to control more of it?" -Jon Stewart

    by radabush on Sat Aug 23, 2014 at 11:00:51 AM PDT

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