Streams

30 Issues: The Tax Code

Monday, October 06, 2008

How much money in taxes will you pay under a John McCain or Barack Obama administration? Clint Stretch, managing principal of tax policy for Deloitte Tax, has crunched the numbers.

Then
John R. Talbott, author of Obamanomics: How Bottom-Up Economic Prosperity Will Replace Trickle-Down Economics and The Coming Crash in the Housing Market and Stephen Moore, Wall Street Journal senior economics writer, debate the merits of each of the candidates' tax plans.

Then
So what is middle class anyway? Robert Frank, economics professor at Cornell University and author of Falling Behind: How Rising Inequality Harms the Middle Class, joins us to take your calls about what "middle class" really means.

Guests:

Robert Frank, Stephen Moore, Clint Stretch and John R. Talbott
News, weather, Radiolab, Brian Lehrer and more.
Get the best of WNYC in your inbox, every morning.

Comments [78]

Christine Hepburn from 69 Glenwild Rd, Madison NJ

Brian asked if we felt patriotic when paying our taxes. You betcha! (I like talking like Sarah, but believe no one should vote for her!) We have to pay to support our security forces, not to mention infrastructure, food & drug safety and so much else. Taxes are not bad, it's just tough to figure out who should pay how much. My household pays 100's of thousands of dollars in income tax each year. It's a lot, but we are left with even more. Bush gave us a windfall every year. How stupid, even immoral. Income taxes should be increased for high income households, say over $250K and more at higher incomes.

Oct. 07 2008 08:30 AM
Joe from New Haven

Continued from previous…My parents, who lived through the depression, WWII and its prosperous aftermath, sadly didn’t get to be wage earners during the “largest run up of wealth in the history of mankind”. Still, although they were still blue collar, they were much better off than their parents, took modest vacations, paid their union dues, paid for their children’s college tuitions and could even afford a modest 2nd home in rural NJ. If your callers are any indication, all of these things are beyond the reach of typical metro NYC middle class families. Was the “middle class spring” that was the US of the 50’s, 60’s and pre-oil embargo 70’s a sustainable economic norm or just an anomaly?.

If, from a wage standpoint, the earning capacity of the middle and working class remains flat through busts, booms, capital gains tax cuts, wars on poverty, drugs, terror, taxes, polar bears, income re-distribution….you name it…aren’t you killing the goose that lays the golden egg,….the American worker’s motivation? I hate to be a pessimist but isn’t the message that you get when you merge McCain / Palin’s statements with Steve Moore’s observations: American Workers: You may be productive and hard working, but don’t expect things to get any better no matter how many new jobs are created by America’s entrepreneurs with their capital gains taxes and access to easy capital though a deregulated banking systems.

Oct. 06 2008 04:38 PM
Joe from New Haven

So here’s the question:
Continued from previous...How come American wage earners, who are so productive, hard working, Christian…whatever, not getting a bigger piece of the economic pie that Steve Moore and his Club for Growth pals keep boasting about? What do they have to do…elect Karl Marx and start water boarding every citizen of Greenwich Connecticut to get a fair shake? Are all those job creating captains of industry going to go on strike if we collect another $2,000 a year from people earning over $250,000? …Continued.

Oct. 06 2008 04:38 PM
Joe from New Haven

I have the following question and perhaps someone above my pay grade can answer it. First, some background:
+ Last week Steve Moore boasted on this show that the de-regulatory / get the government off our back, climate of the past 25 years, ushered in during the Reagan administration created a 17 – 50 trillion dollar increase in asset value which he described as the “biggest increase in wealth in the history of mankind”. “An incredible run.” Wow!!! That sounds great!!! We should all be happy.
+ McCain and Palin keep telling us that the American worker is the most productive, hard working, committed..(add your own positive adjective here…Christian, religious, educated, heterosexual, obese, horny…whatever) The economy is “basically sound.” By their standard, was it ever not sound? I guess during the great depression American workers just got stupid, lazy…un-productive. Perhaps they can attend my next employee review. Wow!!! That sounds great!!! We should all be happy.
+The Robert Frank’s of the world tell us that, adjusted for inflation, middle class wages have essentially been, on average, flat for the past 2 to 3 decades.. I know this is true because I asked a bunch of hockey moms this question over the weekend and they all agreed with the Bureau of Labor Statistics on this one. …Continued.

Oct. 06 2008 04:37 PM
hjs from 11211

71
A LOT of people in NYC live on less than 300K.

our personal budgets are full of waste and luxury. one could do with less.

what could u give up

Oct. 06 2008 03:31 PM
Irene from Oakland, New Jersey

When the middle class is "defined" it is automatically politically correct to discriminate against those who earn above that number. This group pays more than the lion's share of taxes yet they are often acceptably sneered at and forced to pay even more. This is not fair or democratic. There should be a flat percentage tax and or a federal sales tax. We wold save money by significantly shrinking the bloated IRS.

Oct. 06 2008 03:28 PM
Office Worker from Brooklyn

What about the poor?

Oct. 06 2008 01:58 PM
to forest hills

to O -- if you live in central kansas i agree.

nyc 300k is only "leave it to beaver" level m class if supplemented by rich parents. as you know. (at least, so long as $150 k homes continue selling for more than 500k).

Oct. 06 2008 01:13 PM
O from Forest Hills

Adjust your lifestyle if you can't make it on $300K. That is more than enough. The average American family of 4 is doing it on $60K.

Adjust your car you drive, your house you live, you don't need to be a member of the country club. You don't need the $1 million dollar house. You don't need Dolce and Gabanna.

Adjust your lifestyle! $150K or less is middle class. Working class is about $75k or less.

Oct. 06 2008 12:23 PM
adsff f

of course, if you make 30-40k a year you have no business spending that much on college unless you are willing to forgo expectations of having a middle class life...

Oct. 06 2008 12:22 PM
hjs from 11211

what middle class??

Oct. 06 2008 12:08 PM
eligit from astoria

wow....it blows my mind how much you can get paid and still not consider yourself wealthy.

i am living on the street compared to most of these people "struggling to get by" with 200k a year.

i make do with 40k.

also....if you cannot support your kids on a very high salary....why have so many kids?

two kids and 200k a year and you are on easy street for life.

Oct. 06 2008 12:05 PM
Jeffrey Slott from East Elmhurst

I agree with Dana. First we have to define what the term "middle-class" >should< mean and then we can figure out much is needed to be included in that definition.

Oct. 06 2008 12:04 PM
lezlie from brooklyn

This is a moment to miss John Edwards, eh? His answer to the question, "how do we define the middle class?" would surely attend more to the relationship between this increasingly abstract and flexible concept and the material circumstances of working peoples' lives -- How bout more on the vast working class?!

Oct. 06 2008 12:02 PM
susy from manhattan

I don't understand.

If you're only making 140K a year...why the heck are you having FIVE children???

Oct. 06 2008 11:59 AM
Dana from Teaneck, NJ

Is being middle class only about income? Many (highly) educated people have higher scale tastes and lifestyles, but don't have the income to match.

Oct. 06 2008 11:58 AM
Alex from brooklyn


If you choose to live in a more expensive neighborhood, and therefore cannot afford a car or vacation, does that make you middle class?

Or, if you own a really expensive car and spend too much on restaurants, but cannot afford your rent?

Obviously, we cannot go simply by what things you can afford, as you can make unwise choices and spend too much on one thing or anything. It is not a question of what you cannot afford; if you're foolish enough, you cannot afford anything.

Oct. 06 2008 11:58 AM
sps from Brooklyn

What about young professionals who AREN'T in the banking, etc. industries...those of us with a lot of college debt just to get a BA and only make 30k-40k a year? Does anyone speak for us? Those of us living paycheck to paycheck and barely have the money to visit family or save for the future, let alone go on vacation.

Oct. 06 2008 11:58 AM
middle class 350K min

middle class also traditionally includes a modest second home.

i would also include ZERO illegal support staff, ie legit property care, child care, etc.

max 25-30% AFTER TAX income on housing.

Oct. 06 2008 11:58 AM
Jane from Brooklyn

These people are too greed! I live happily in Brooklyn with one kid & vacations on about $90,000.

Oct. 06 2008 11:57 AM
jenny from brooklyn

What are you people talking about?! I make about 45-50,000/yr and I consider myself middle class. I'm a single girl (well, I live with my boyfriend in a one-bedroom) live in brooklyn, eat out, don't particularly struggle, go on a vacation each year. So am I poverty-stricken?

Oct. 06 2008 11:56 AM
Repub101 from Manhattan

Brian: You took McCain's $5M out of context. He was joking, and he said so right after he made that statement. In fact, he commented on the fact that his saying $5M would be taken out of context, and it has been over and over this season.

Oct. 06 2008 11:56 AM
Pablo Mayrgundter from Jersey City

Lower Class:

You work for your livelihood.

Upper Class:

Others work for your livelihood.

Oct. 06 2008 11:56 AM
Joan from Manhattan

Well, I certainly pay almost 1/3rd of my salary to taxes. I make close to 40K a year (the most I've ever made in my life - and more than my mother ever made) Just because the rich are paying more TOTAL to the country, I guarantee they're not paying 30% of their millions.

I would guess 150K per family is bout right.

Oct. 06 2008 11:55 AM
Lisa from NJ

In America today everyone defines themselves as "middle class". It's an obsolete term used by politicians and economists.

What happened to "working class"?

Oct. 06 2008 11:55 AM
Paul from Brooklyn

This "redistribution of wealth" question is simple. Under any tax system (flat, graduated), unless everyone is making the exact same amount of money, some people on the high end of the economic scale will personally have less money than they otherwise would, and that money will go to the government, benefitting everyone, including people who start on the lower end of the economic scale. That money is in effect redistributed. If you go from a truly flat tax (forgetting all tax deductions) to a graduated system, you only change the rules under which the redistribution occurs. Under either system, if you change the rates or deduction rules, you only change the proportions by which the redistribution occurs. REGARDLESS of the "direction" of the redistribution.

In short: if wealth is distributed differently, it is redistributed. Stephen Moore's comment that Bush's tax plan does not count as redistribution because "he didn't raise taxes on anybody" is absurd. The rules were changed, and wealth was redistributed. Whoever is elected in November, wealth will again be redistributed, as neither candidate plans to leave taxes as is.

Let's be clear: Palin cannot logically have meant that only Obama would redistribute wealth. Either she simply does not understand the very meaning of the phrase, or--as I believe--she invoked it to hurl at the Obama-Biden ticket the associated connotation or socialism or other economic systems.

Oct. 06 2008 11:49 AM
Inquiring Minds

@50 Alex

Some have suggested that we pay our taxes on the day that we vote. A great idea.

Do you think we would be in unpopular wars, etc. if people more closely associated taxes with decisions?

Oct. 06 2008 11:49 AM
Georges from Manhattan

Stephen Moore's short answer is "No, Obama did not tax middle-income families."

Oct. 06 2008 11:47 AM
Alex from brooklyn


Is Individualism patriotic?

There are times when what is best for alone, is not best for the country. This is most obvious when it comes to taxes. It is best for if I can avoid paying any taxes. But it is best for the country if I chip in my share. Obviously, there's a huge question, as to how much my share ought to be.

If, in a time of greater need, I am called upon to pay more, what is the patriotic response? Is it to fight against paying more? Or is it to go along with paying more?

In a time of of an expensive war, should I fight to pay less taxes? Or should I willingly pay more, ceasing my struggle to pay as little as I can get away with?

Is fighting to lower MY taxes patriotic? It's hard to even imagine that it is.

One might argue that lowering spending is patriotic. But once the spending is in place, ducking paying for it? Or leaving it to future generations? There is no patriotism there.

Oct. 06 2008 11:47 AM
Inquiring Minds

@30 JC

[I am versed in the concept you mention] but that is not the point. My point is, that at a certain point "progressivity" becomes anti-democratic if a plurality of voters pay too little for the benefits they receive.

And, as an aside, most of the elite schools, particularly the Ivy League charge ZERO in tuition for the bottom half of income earners!!

Of course, @28Mark!, this is yet another TAX, as the other students subsidize the perk!

Oct. 06 2008 11:46 AM
Amy from Manhattan

The first great wave of downsizing & outsourcing came shortly after Reagan's corporate tax cuts. Sure, the cuts created jobs--overseas.

Oct. 06 2008 11:46 AM
Chris from NYC

Isn't the actual corporate tax rate kind of irrelevant? The more important question being what rate do they actually pay?

Oct. 06 2008 11:45 AM
MG from Brooklyn

I certainly do feel patriotic when I pay my taxes. These taxes (federal and local) pay for my children's education (and yours, if you use the public schools), public transit, roads, clean water, fire and police protection, all of which are absolutely essential to my well being. At the federal level, taxes support the very things that this country was formed to do: establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity.

The people have begun to regard paying taxes as a miserable burden--rather than a shared responsibility for the common good--because we do not feel that taxation is imposed fairly and we do not support the way the revenue is spent. This is not only the government's fault, but also the fault of us as Americans, because we have become so selfish we no longer wish to participate in that shared responsibility nor do we want to promote the common good over personal gain.

Oct. 06 2008 11:41 AM
Alex from brooklyn


McCain claims the healthcare thing is a refundable tax credit. But it is not.

1) The taxpayer will not have the money in hand.

2) The money most likely will go directly to the insurance companies, to cover some part of healthcare premiums. That's not a metaphor, it's the literal truth. It will bypass the taxpayer.

3) Any leftover, that is what is left after the insurance company takes what it demands, will still not go into the taxpayers' pocket. It will go to a healthcare savings account. Spend money on healthcare stuff -- co-pays, glasses, contact lens stuff, medicines, etc -- and you can get reimbursed after the fact. Sometimes, you can get special checks or a special debit card to access to those funds.

Oct. 06 2008 11:40 AM
Anne

The tech economy did NOT crash in 1999-2000, as your McCain supporter claims. That was actually the height of the boom. It crashed in 2001-2003. Look at the historic market data.

I was working in tech in Silicone Valley when all this happened. Your McCain supporter is completely distoring reality!

Oct. 06 2008 11:40 AM
PJBeee from Ridgewood, NJ

Like it or not, it IS patriotic to pay one's required taxes.

It should be no surprise that it hurts to pay taxes. I'm sure that anyone reading this knows what taxes are (supposed to be) for.

Unfortunately, when electioneering, phrases like "voting for more taxes" is used as a weapon.

BTW, the "disproportionate share of taxes is paid by the wealthy" argument is just a big "so-what?". Wealth begets wealth; it's more than fair to share this wealth when it can be clearly shown that a disproportionate share of the GDP is flowing UP, AND the country NEEDS the revenue.

Oct. 06 2008 11:40 AM
Jim

WHEN POLITICIANS USE PATROITISM

"Of course the people do not want war . . . But after all it is theleaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, a parliment, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them that they are being attacked and denounce pacifists for a lack of PATRIOTISM"

German Field Marshal
Herman Goering, Nuremberg, Aplil 18th 1946

Oct. 06 2008 11:39 AM
Chuck Renaud from Brooklyn

IM,

Are you a communist?

Lovin' China and all. Wink, Wink...

Oct. 06 2008 11:38 AM
Sally Kohn from Brooklyn, NY

Thanks for this topic, Brian. I make over $100K a year and clearly fall into the category of well-off folks on whose behalf Sarah Palin and others are trying to fan class warfare flames of unfairness. I do think paying taxes is patriotic. Shouldn't someone point out that taxes build our roads, make our drinking water safe, build the satellite technology that makes our cell phones work, educates the majority of Americans in public schools, etc?!?!? Since when did we lose sight of all the good things our tax dollars do?

Like other extreme conservatives before them, McCain and Palin just want to help the rich and starve government, at a time when we need the common benefits of government more than ever. It's time for people like me to pay our fair share and be proud to do it!

Oct. 06 2008 11:37 AM
Sam

Could you ask your guests about Palin's comments on raising taxes on small businesses. If my business made $250,000+ in gross profits I would be elated!

Oct. 06 2008 11:35 AM
norman from nyc

Question for Stephen Moore:

Adam Smith said in the Wealth of Nations:

"It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more in proportion."

That's why economists credit Adam Smith with the idea of progressive taxes.

Agree?

Oct. 06 2008 11:34 AM
Inquiring Minds

@Chuck

"The nail that raises its head gets hammered down." old Chinese proverb

Which party would you ascribe this too? ;)

Oct. 06 2008 11:33 AM
Lauren from Port Jefferson

Did the woman who says she's spent her whole life in the middle class (and shall we distinguish between middle class and middle America?) really just also say that she takes issue with the redistribution of wealth?

What can she possibly think that "middle class" means? And what does she think "redistribution of wealth" means?

Oct. 06 2008 11:32 AM
Sue from Manhattan

Isn't one of the main issues about extending Bush's tax code the decision to extend permanently or reinstitute the estate tax, which Bush renamed the estate tax? Bill Gates has said that he does not mind his children paying an estate tax.

Oct. 06 2008 11:31 AM
Inquiring Minds

@28 Mark

You are spot on. No person -- unless coerced -- would chose to surrender so great a portion of the fruits of their labor.

This is why taxes are INHERENTLY EVIL -- governments can take away your liberty, read JAIL YOU, if you don't pay them.

This is the root of the trouble behind the Biden attitude expressed in the "patriotic" quote!

Oct. 06 2008 11:31 AM
Anne

I feel more patriotic paying taxes than going shopping, that's for sure.

Oct. 06 2008 11:31 AM
Karen from Manhattan

As I've pointed out, those of us who earn between $250,000 and $400,000 in the NYC area are not "very wealthy." We are also carrying a huge tax burden, while the really wealthy -- those earning many hundreds of thousands of dollars, much of it as capital gains -- pay taxes at a relatively low marginal rate.

I am an Obama supporter. I support a repeal of the Bush tax cuts (some of these will "sunset" without being repealed), but I but advocate including in the Obama plan a cost-of-living index that takes into account expenses in NYC and other high-cost areas and acknowledges that middle-class professionals cannot generally obtain financial assistance to pay college tuition; pay for a large portion of their health insurance; and have no pensions.

Oct. 06 2008 11:31 AM
Chuck Renaud from Brooklyn

"The good of the many is greater than the good of the one."

-Dems

"The good of the one is greater than the good of the many.

-GOP

Oct. 06 2008 11:29 AM
J.C. from Minneapolis

Re: Comment #1

The point behind higher tax rates for higher incomes is that those with more dollars can spare more of them for the greater good of everyone so that the rich can't use their money advantage to keep others down (e.g. right now, only the health and wealthy get decent health insurance; public college tuition--esp. for grad/prof. schoolo--is coasting to the point that only the rich kids get to go to school, etc.).

I don't support the progressive income tax to soak the rich (though I realize there are those on my side of the political spectrum who accept that reason); I support it because I know that it can allow those at the bottom a fair chance at moving up in the world by providing them (and everyone!) basic services like health insurance and education without destroying them financially in order to get it (since I'm not taxing the $10/hour person at 35% since I know that person is struggling just pay rent on a no-frills apartment).

Oct. 06 2008 11:28 AM
John from Upper West Side

The income tax is a small portion of receipts. The payroll taxes are the big ones. And those taxes are not included in Capital Gains. Buffet explained this on Charlie Rose.

Oct. 06 2008 11:28 AM
Mark from Manhattan

As a 49 year old single male, except for my mortgage deductions, I get no tax breaks. My income was enought that I didn't get the last stimulus check. I have no reason I get that I'll get any tax break from McCain or Obama, but I'm almost certain my taxes would go up with Obama.

Has anyone ever looked at "comprehesive" tax rates? It's very naive to talk about my 30-something percent federal tax rate. What is my comprehensive tax rate after one considers state taxes, local taxes, property taxes, sales taxes, taxes on utilties, airport taxes, tolls, social security, gasoline taxes, special taxes on car rentals, special taxes on entertainment events, taxes on investment earnings, inheritance taxes, and so on ad nauseum. I have to believe that a guy like me is paying more than far more than 50% of his income in taxes.

Oct. 06 2008 11:27 AM
norman from nyc

Thanks to the Wall Street Journal editorial page for reminding me of the words of Adam Smith in the Wealth of Nations:

"It is not very unreasonable that the rich should contribute to the public expense, not only in proportion to their revenue, but something more in proportion."

That's why economists credit Adam Smith with the idea of progressive taxes.

Everybody agree?

Oct. 06 2008 11:24 AM
Chuck Renaud from Brooklyn

Over 600,000/year is really where the change is. How ull they survive?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/story/2008/06/09/ST2008060900950.html

Oct. 06 2008 11:24 AM
Jon Young from Staten Island

AMT exemption amount will basically rise to compensate for inflation under the just passed bailout bill.

My question about the McCain health insurance credit of $5000 is- will this be a refundable credit, i.e., if the taxpayer does not have any taxes due will the amount be a refund?

Oct. 06 2008 11:23 AM
Inquiring Minds

"A democracy is always temporary in nature; it simply cannot exist as a permanent form of government. A democracy will continue to exist up until the time that voters discover that they can vote themselves generous gifts from the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidates who promise the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that every democracy will finally collapse due to loose fiscal policy, which is always followed by a dictatorship.

The average age of the world's greatest civilizations from the beginning of history has been about 200 years. During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:
* From bondage to spiritual faith;
* From spiritual faith to great courage;
* From courage to liberty;
* From liberty to abundance;
* From abundance to complacency;
* From complacency to apathy;
* From apathy to dependence;
* From dependence back into bondage."

attributed to Alexander Tytler (1747-1814)

Oct. 06 2008 11:20 AM
Chuck Renaud from Brooklyn

What percentage of the U.S. population makes more than $250,000 per year?

3 percent.

Obama's plan gives the biggest cuts to those who make the least, while McCain would give the largest cuts to the very wealthy. For the approximately 147,000 families that make up the top 0.1 percent of the income scale, the difference between the two plans is stark. While McCain offers a $269,364 tax cut, Obama would raise their taxes, on average, by $701,885 - a difference of nearly $1 million.

Time for the rich to pay their dues.

Oct. 06 2008 11:17 AM
B from UWS NYC

Joe Biden at the debate: "Absolutely no distinction from a legal standpoint between a same-sex and a heterosexual couple."

So does the Obama tax plan address the inequities in the tax structure between gay and heterosexual couples?

Oct. 06 2008 11:17 AM
Alex from brooklyn


1) Payroll taxes (e.g. FICA) are significant only for the lower and middle classes. And that is 14%, plus another 14% from the employer.

If you work and make under $90,000, that is. If you make more than that, you pay the exact same payroll taxes as the $90,000 person. If you pay $100,000, $500,000, $5,000,000 or much much more, not a penny more than if you made just $90,000,000.

That is a HUGE part of this issue. HUGE.

Don't say "taxes" when you mean "federal income taxes."

2) Another part of this issue is state and local taxes, income, property and sales. Neither Obama nor McCain can do much about this directly.

Of course, blue states tend to have higher taxes. And they have higher incomes. And they send more money to feds than they get back, whereas red states tend to get more from the feds than that pay in federal taxes. Lower taxes, and -- one might argue -- subsidized by the blue states' higher taxes.

3) Healthcare costs are a big part of this, too. Both claim to be trying to lower them. McCain is raising taxes for 71% of people on the one hand by taxing healthcare recipients, but also cutting the cost of the that healthcare with what he calls a "refundable tax credit," though that is not what it is.

Of course, the question is how much he is taxing those benefits. Just income? What about payroll? What about the employer side of payroll? What about the impact of this on state and local taxes -- which normally tax what the feds tax?

Oct. 06 2008 11:17 AM
RadRepub from Upper Left Side

All politicians are liars. Either Obama or McCain must raise taxes higher than they claim due to the out-of-control spending and bailouts by the government.

P.S. I've notice Obama's no-increase limit keeps adjusting downward over time, and he conveniently swaps "individual" and "family" for who gets wacked.

Oct. 06 2008 11:15 AM
Jessie from Manhattan

and single worker, no kids making less than 50k??

Oct. 06 2008 11:15 AM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

Corrected link for #5:
http://sos-newdeal.blogspot.com/2008/08/topic-of-week-this
-week-tax-reform-tax.html

remove the space between lines

Oct. 06 2008 11:15 AM
sasd

Karen -- (PS As you articulate, in reality $300K is below minimum for a New York City family to live a traditionally middle class life, esp. if you are paying a max of 25% after tax on your mortgage or rent. It is above middle class for a single person in their 20s living an above middle class lifestyle in NYC. This has been the case since about 2002).

Oct. 06 2008 11:15 AM
DAVID from NYC

Brian, can you please ask what would a tax break be on someone making 50k with no exemptions.

Oct. 06 2008 11:14 AM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

Hey. My point is that the TOP TOP earners (maybe 5%) in this country DONT pay anything, and THEY need a real MINIMUM tax. so my example
5 million, and minimum 5% tax or $250,000.

Oct. 06 2008 11:13 AM
Fabio Carasi from Montclair

Could you please your guest if there are going to be any changes on the ALTERNATIVE MINIMUM TAX?

Thank you.

Fabio Carasi

Oct. 06 2008 11:13 AM
Lonnie from Brooklyn

A lot of professional people do NOT make $100,000. What happens to a Single Worker/No kids who makes $50,000?

Oct. 06 2008 11:12 AM
superf88

isn't DELOITTE's MAIN JOB to exempt corporations from US taxes altogether?

What is the "worst case scenario" in terms of legislation affecting Deloitte's strategies? What would be his (clients') biggest relief, in terms of legally avoiding tax payment?

Oct. 06 2008 11:11 AM
Leonardo Andres

Mccain and Obama can say all the want right now, but all of our taxes are going up after the election.

Or how else do you expect them to pay for all the money they are shelling out for the bailout, etc etc etc?

Oct. 06 2008 11:07 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Don't be fascinated with me, IM, and don't be so snotty. Our 401K is down 35% due to what YOUR party has done to our economy. Smart, responsible government makes everyone safer. I think that Obama's tax plan should have a cost-of-living index but, frankly, I'd pay an additional $2,500 per year in taxes to have my 401K back.

That's not even addressing the issue of whether my own self-interest, assuming it was being served by Republican policies, should trump the national interest. I think that it shouldn't, but would appeal to my own party to recognize who was paying what and to distribute any increases fairly.

Oct. 06 2008 10:55 AM
Karen from Manhattan

To Mark Brown:

Thank you, and that's my point. We've made trade-offs for the higher income -- longer hours, I work two jobs, my husband is training for a second construction specialty -- we and know that we are lucky. We think, however, that the top tier is paying way too little in taxes and that we, in the upper-middle, are being crushed.

My boss, for example, does not pay the AMT, because he earns too much money. Capital gains are taxed at a much lower rate than mere income. Why should my husband and I pay a higher marginal tax rate than my boss, who as an owner of a successful busienss earns three or even four times what I do?

Oct. 06 2008 10:52 AM
Inquiring Minds

@Karen

You are a fascinating case of someone "voting against their economic self-interest"

@Mark

A far better idea would be:
1) reverse the SCOTUS case that made corporations "people" -- giving them constitutional protection
2) don't tax corporations AT ALL -- tax the owner's on the companies income
3) simplify the tax code & improve fairness

Oct. 06 2008 10:46 AM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

PS: #4 Karen:

Yes, people earning $300,000/yr aren't rich.
(and neither are poor "schnooks" like me whose family income is WAY below $100K).

The TOP needs to pay M o r e here. Not you!

Oct. 06 2008 10:44 AM
Karen from Manhattan

That's $2,500 annually, for commutation on Metro North.

Oct. 06 2008 10:42 AM
mark Brown from sos-newdeal.blogspot.com AND markbnj.blogspot.com

Hey .

I think Obama is on the Right path.
But I think that it isn't really enough

If you look at my post below, you'll see a link to a study by the GOVERNMENT Accounting office which shows 66percent of ALL corporations pay NO taxes in this country.
--> link below <--
sos-newdeal.blogspot.com/2008/08/topic-of-week-this-week-tax-reform-tax.html
<--end shameless self promotion
Well. I think we NEED to have a new tax.
Instead of an Alternative Minimum Tax (which got messed up because of not indexing it for inflation)

We need a new Minimum Millionaire Tax.
(and would also aply to CORPORATIONS, which rate as legal 'entities' (just like a person)
The new MMT would be for those with GROSS incomes OVER five MILLION dollars.

No alternatives this is a new minimum.
5 million in income? minimum tax 5% of it!
That's $250,000 in taxes.

This would help make this fairer.

Oct. 06 2008 10:42 AM
Karen from Manhattan

The last two paragraphs of my comment, above, got reversed in the editings process. The last paragraph should be the one that begins "I'm voting for Obama."

Oct. 06 2008 10:42 AM
Karen from Manhattan

Our family earns about $300,000 gross income a year, a huge amount by most standards. We pay about half that amount in federal, state and local taxes and property taxes. Our health insurance costs an additional $12,000 pre-tax dollars per year and does not cover many costs, including most of our son's therapy for a learning disability. We receive no financial aid for college and have no pensions or other retirement benefits. Therefore, we pay full college tuition for our son, who attends a public, not private college (because we cannot afford the $40,000 room and board for a private school), and we contribute to our 401K (which is shrinking rapidly). Commutation for two people is another $2,500. Gas is $120 per week; two tanks, for two cars, driven by three adults.

I'm voting for Obama because he will do what's best for the country. Yet, with costs in our area 2 1/2 the national average, my family is not rich. I grew up in a working-class family and, for sure, we have more space in a better neighborhood, with better schools, than the one in which I grew up. That's the only difference in life styles however; we may have a high income but, like other salaried professionals in the NYC area, we are middle class, not rich.

Each month, my husband and I pay our bills. We have enough left over to eat healthy food and have dinner out at a modest restaurant (Italian or sushi) once a week. We don't order out and grow vegetables in our backyard.

Oct. 06 2008 10:40 AM
mc from Brooklyn

It's not that they pay nothing. It's that they don't pay income tax. They do pay payroll taxes which are a far greater proportion of their income than someone with an income of over $100,000. And don't forget local and state sales taxes which also make up a greater proportion of a poorer person's income.

Oct. 06 2008 10:16 AM
Inquiring Minds

According to the National Taxpayers Union,

Top FIVE percent of taxpayers pay SIXTY percent of income taxes.

Bottom FIFTY percent pay TWO percent -- effectively ZERO.

How can we sustain a democracy when a PLURALITY of its voters pay NOTHING for benefits they vote themselves from the public treasury?

Oct. 06 2008 10:05 AM

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