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Why do we all pay taxes?
Ask yourself that question then think real hard about the answer.
To make it perfectly clear, what we’re talking about here is just our state and local county taxes. Not your federal taxes. Fair or unfair, federal taxes are applied the same in all states.
We pay state and county taxes to provide the funding for the expected services from our state and/or county governments. (Remember, this a discussion of what we reasonably expect. Not necessarily what we do get.)
Whether its police or fire protection, or the repair of roads and sewers and drain systems, the “services” provided for us through our state and county taxes are provided equally for all people living on Kauai. No matter their race or color or their national origin, the level of service is provided equally with no exceptions. Not even their level of income.
Based on recent media reporting, including our Garden Island newspaper, the “Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy” reports that the lower fifth of wage earners make an average of $10,200 per year and pay 15 percent of that in state and local taxes.
In comparison, the report says that the top 1 percent of wage earners make an average of $948,200 per year and pay only 8.9 percent of that in state and local taxes.
Funny thing about “percentages”. They can be used and manipulated to show whatever you want them to show. And to use “percentages” in the manner of this report is obviously an attempt of deception.
Using the same figures in the report, let’s show actual dollar amounts rather than percentages.
The 15 percent of the annual wages of $10,200 means that that wage earner pays $1530 per year in taxes.
The upper income person paying 8.9 percent of his annual wages of $948,200 means that he’s paying $84,390 per year in taxes for the same services, and for the same level of service as anyone else.
The story in TGI (Oct. 25)) states: “Hawaii’s richest make 96 times more money per year than the state’s poorest. However, the richest 1 percent do not pay 96 times more in taxes. Rather, they pay only 57 times more. “
So my question is, why should the top 1 percent of wage earners be paying 57 times more for the same services? The services provided by the county and state are provided equally to all. Except, that there are numerous special state and county programs specifically for low income wage earners which are paid for by that top 1 percent of wage earners.
This same argument can be applied to our property tax system, but that’s a slightly different subject for another discussion. Property taxes also pay for services from the county. Regardless of what our property is valued at, we all still receive the same level of service from the county.
Why not stop looking to others to pay more in taxes and put that same effort into looking at ways to cut taxes for everyone. We all know that our state and county governments are heavily padded with a tremendous amount of waste and incompetence.
We need a different “breed” of leaders in both governments. Leaders that will assure us that we are “getting what we pay for.” We need to elect leaders that will make sure that every government employee is held accountable and competent and is aware of the fact that they work for us, the taxpayers.
And, by the way, the story in TGI states: “Given that low-income people are paying 68 percent more of their income in taxes than the richest in Hawaii.” Just to clarify where this 68 percent comes from: … 15 percent is 68 percent more than 8.9 percent. Got that? Confusing, huh? Again, the intention is to deceive.
Larry Joseph Arruda is a resident of Wailua Homesteads.
Larry, I don’t think it is a question of deceiving, but rather a different way of looking at things than you do.
We live with a capitalist economy. For it to be successful, there needs to be an equatable distribution of the wealth created from producing stuff. Forbes magazine reported last year that only 3 Billionaires control as much wealth as the bottom 50% of Americans. This disparity is well displayed on the web page called the L-curve.
It is not a good thing when that much wealth is controlled by so few people. These 3 billionaires think that because they know how to make money they are equally as smart in all human endeavors. For instance Bill Gates spends a lot of his money shaping the debate around Education. While some agree with Gates support of Charter Schools, many view them as a threat to Public Schools. This creates a class division since only the less-well-off families will go to the public schools where they will receive a lesser quality eduction.
If it is okay that poor people never get a chance to get ahead, then tax everyone the same.
But if we consider that the distribution of income is unfairly distributed, then one way of making up for that inequality is by taxing those with all the money at higher rates.
“We live with a capitalist economy. For it to be successful, there needs to be an equatable distribution of the wealth created from producing stuff.”
Yes, John We certainly do look at things differently. Your statement quoted above is absolute nonsense. There is no such thing in a real free market economy as an equitable distribution of the wealth. This rubbish is based on the false premise that all people are equal in intelligence, education preparation, physical ability, persistence and motivation. In other words, your premise is an affront to nature where we all have varying capacities and capabilities. These differing characteristics determine our life outcomes.
Enough with the Marxist class BS and socialist pipe dreaming…history clearly shows that this ideology is nothing if not murderous and detrimental to humanity. Unless, of course, you happen to be one of the elite party chiefs–you know, like Stalin, Mao, Hitler, Pol Pot, Chavez and the North Korean Kims.
Thank you for writing this. So true.
Nobody likes to pay taxes. There is a misconception that Liberals, like myself, love to pay taxes. We do not. We do however live in a society and that means we all contribute.
You are looking at your numbers in the wrong way and your letter is misleading.
If it takes 100 dollars to make the government function then your low earners is contributing 15 dollars and your high earner is contributing 85 dollars. You think that this is unfair.
You want to make it “fair,” so 20 dollars from each and the government is 60% short on its budget. The only fair way would be 50 dollars each. That’s half of what the low-income earner makes for the entire year.
Nothing wrong with complaining about taxes, we all do. The top 1% should be paying more in taxes not less. That is how we built up this country. If you want to, “Make America Great Again,” then you can do it by getting the tax rate on the rich to where it was at that time, slightly higher than it is today and with less loopholes.
If you want the top earners to pay less in taxes then move to a country where that is true. Guatemala, Kazakhstan, Bulgaria and Russia.
We have a state sales tax of 4%. Isn’t this the same for all people, regardless of income or wealth? Both the rich and poor pay the exact same tax when buying a loaf of bread. This money goes to provide services. So, your argument is based on only one of many taxes and therefore somewhat deceptive in breadth.
It doesn’t matter what tax we’re talking about. All taxes pay for government services. Services provided equally to all income levels. Except that there seem to be a lot more government services provided for lower income classes.
All taxes are paid based on a percentage. The more you make, the more taxes you pay. The more you make, the more you are likely to spend, and therefore the more you pay in sales taxes. Sales taxes, which in turn pay for equally distributed government services.
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