Comments about ‘Dan Liljenquist: What is a 'fair share' of tax burden for the rich?’

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Published: Thursday, March 21 2013 12:00 a.m. MDT

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Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . we must stop vilifying 'the rich'."

Yeah. As if liberals would ever do so. It's been their bread and butter for generations.

Who could they bash, if not the "evil rich?"


There is actually a very easy way to determine fair share - if you own/control 80% of the wealth of the nation, than 80% of the tax money being collected should come from you.

We don't live in Cyprus or Latin America or sub-Sahara Africa. The fact that the poor in America would be rich if they lived in a different country and made the same money they make now is a red-herring - they are not trying to survive in that country, they are trying to survive in this country.

The much criticized 47% who pay no federal income tax are those who, on average, own/control less than 1% of the wealth of the nation - when all they own/control is combined together. I say "on average" because there are a few wealthy individuals and many profit-making businesses who pay no taxes. And if those who barely have enough to survive are going to be criticized for not paying federal income taxes, than so should multi-billion dollar corporations.

Durham, NC

It's not about "fair share", if you follow Adam Smith's writings... it is about "ability to pay" The was particularly true when Smith penned his works founding the concept of capitalism, seeing how large the gap between the classes were in that day. The conversation is acutely quit circular - the best way to ensure no one group pays as extraordinary load is to make sure there is a good distribution across the classes - but tax policy also greatly impacts class mobility. Enabling upward mobility should be the driver behind any system to increase revenue.

Conservatives and liberals alike realize the real argument should be how to best increase mobility. Hitting the poor up for more taxes will only have real nominal impact on revenue, and a negative impact on mobility.

The bottom line though is the tax system was never not intended to not be progressive. Focus should be on expanding the middle class to spread the tax burden across more households.

Burke, VA

"A family living at the federal poverty line in the United States is 10 times wealthier than a middle-class Guatemalan family."

Is that really the standard by which Mr. Liljenquist wants us to judge life in the United States?

"The systematic use of invective and hyperbole to drive this argument home has divided the country into factions. Nobody can define what is a 'fair share' of the tax burden."

Hyperbole has been used on both sides of the argument. I'm recalling a presidential candidate with a $20M annual income claiming "47% pay no incomes taxes" when the majority of the people he was referring to pay a higher percentage of their income to taxes - not income taxes, but others taxes - than he paid on his income.

If I make $100K and my neighbor makes $1M in annual income, we both pay the same tax on $100K. But he pays more on amounts greater than my income, primarily because he is better able to pay them. That seems like a 'fair' way to pay for the things we have determined are important in our nation. Does anyone have a more fair way that will support that system?

one vote
Salt Lake City, UT

No one is turning the rich into villains. Bush cut the tax, declared two wars and did not increase the marginal tax to pay for the wars. Restoring balance and appropriate rates resulted in this illogical claim. Tis is the Limbaugh tactic of imputing evil to persons that do not accede to your political postion. The rich villified themselves to keep the unnecessary tax break that lead to the recent recession.

Hayden, ID

It doesn't matter how much taxes we pay, as long as Democrats control the spending, it will NEVER be enough! "We don't have a spending problem, we have a deficit problem", Barrack Obama

salt lake city, utah

Muadine, Utah Blue Devil, ECR and one vote..have done a nice job of explaining the errors of Mr. Lijenquists rant. Talking about liberals "villifying the rich", and basicly saying that someone in America who makes $20,000 a year and is trying to support a family of 4 or 5 should thank their lucky stars because they are 20 times more wealthy than a peasant in Guatemala is exactly the kind of thinking that has lost the Repbulicans 5 of the last 6 popular votes in Presidential elections. It's nonsense, it's offensive, and it's unproductive.

The ordinary worker may not have the sophisticated arguments of Maudine etc. but it's the kind of thing that they know in their gut/life is baloney so until conservatives quit crying about rich people paying 70% of the taxes and admit to the flip side of the coin (Maudines point), that these same people hold 80% to 90% of the wealth and are getting more, rants like Mr. Lijenquists will continue to be smoke in the wind.

Roland Kayser
Cottonwood Heights, UT

Every year the IRS releases data on the top 400 households in the nation. The average annual income of these 400 households 300 million dollars per year. Their average effective income tax rate is 16%. Eight of these households paid zero federal income tax, they're part of Romney's 47%. Sorry, but that's not excessive.

Burke, VA

procuradorfiscal said, "Re: ". . . we must stop vilifying 'the rich'." Yeah. As if liberals would ever do so."

I guess you didn't fully read the article or look at the picture accompanying it. Bill Maher is one of the most well known "liberals" in the country. I personally can't stand his arrogant, foul mouthed approach to politics, and I don't watch his show. But apparently Mr. Liljenquist finds some amusement in his program.

But I would like to point out that, in this case, a "liberal" is standing up for the rich. You should pay attention to what is written before making comments about it. There were even pictures for heaven's sake.


I was listening to an interview with Robert Reich on Moyers and Co. the other day. Reich worked for Bork when he was Solicitor General, for Carter, Ford and Clinton. He remarked how different Washington is today as a result of money, ie. lobbyists. In fact, Palin (i never imagined quoting Palin) accurately stated (politifact) that 7 of the 10 highest-income counties in the country ring D.C.

Supreme Court Justice William Brandeis once stated:

"We may have democracy, or we may have wealth concentrated in the hands of a few, but we can't have both."

Increasing inequality should concern all Americans. A major cause of increasing inequality has been the tax code, such as the lower tax rate on capital gains, and Romney's favorite--the carried interest loophole.

Murray, UT

We are talking about income tax, right? So let's tie the income tax to the income.

Currently the top 5% of earners reap 34% of the income paid in this country, and they pay 59% of the income tax that comes in. That seems like they are paying their fair share and then some.

The top half (50%) of earners pay 98% of the income taxes, but they only make 88% of the income. This includes people making 34.3K and up, hardly the rich.

The bottom half of earners pay the other 2%, but they make 12% of the income.

Seems like those at the bottom are treated pretty well by the income tax code.

I am not a big earner, but I know the tax I pay makes me appreciate the sacrifice it is to pay it. I think that every income earner over 21 should pay a little, even if the bottom rate is just half a percent, just so every adult knows that tax money doesn't grow on trees.

Bountiful, UT

A CEO may think it unfair that he pays 70% of
the income taxes in his company.

The best way to remedy this is to change the
way people are paid. If the CEO is getting paid
$20 million per year, lower this to 180 thousand
per year and use the money saved to help
ensure that all employees from the janitor and
secretary on up get a living wage.

As it stands now it is laughable for the CEO and
Bill Maher to complain that they pay the majority
of taxes. Even with the present tax system,
these people are more than fairly compensated.

Ultra Bob
Cottonwood Heights, UT

There probably is no way to tax citizens for the cost of their government but there are better ways than what we have now or even proposed.

The Ultra tax, for lack of a better name, is simply a flat tax rate income tax paid by every citizen rich or poor. No exceptions, no deductions. One single tax to be divided up to other state and local governments on a per citizen basis.

The tax would be collected as a flat percentage of every dollar a business operating in America pays out from it’s operation. Including wages, inventory, operating costs, and profits given to the owners. The only payments not taxed would be the tax itself. If the product is sold for consumption in the U.S. the income tax would apply. Foreign owners and worker making goods for the U.S. would pay American income tax on those goods.

Advantages might include, No tax returns for individuals, No tax year, the tax would be remitted at the same time as the out-payment is made by the business, Audit should be easier and simple. An employee’s wages would be totally his to disperses, no further taxes.

Tooele, UT

Re: ". . . these people are more than fairly compensated."

Says who?

There's the real problem. Liberals believe only they are smart, perceptive, "progressive" and caring enough to determine when someone has or has not been fairly compensated.

So, if left to up liberals, they would appoint company CEOs, or at least determine their compensation, meaning CEOs would be compensated, not based on company performance, but on fealty to liberal "principles."

Who wins in that scenario? Well, the companies fail. Workers lose their jobs. Suppliers go broke and fire their workers. Lack of workers contributes to Detroit-style community collapse. Ultimately the Nation fails.

Who loses from deranged liberal pie-in-the-sky policies?

We all do.

Hayden, ID

Continue to punish success, creativity and free enterprise and we will have less of it in our nation. Continue to reward failure, irresponsibility and poor choices and we will have much more of it in America. Perhaps its too late already!

Kent C. DeForrest
Provo, UT

As is normal for conservative "thinkers," Liljenquist missed the point entirely. The problem is not the redistribution of wealth in the country. It is the distribution, a point made admirably by cjb. If we continue to allow those who do not create wealth to harvest it as if they did create it all, we will soon have an economy where the consumers don't have enough disposable income to buy the products the wealthy need to sell in order to keep harvesting all the profit. Let's start paying the people who do create the wealth their "fair" share. Then we can start talking about fair taxation. But until we solve the wealth distribution problem, redistribution of income through taxation will cause both sides to vilify the other with silly accusations. Let's address the illness and stop wringing our hands over peripheral symptoms.

Chris B
Salt Lake City, UT


Here's another one: If you do 90% of the work, you get 90% of the money.

Hayden, ID

Chris B is spot on! If you produce or create little or nothing, why should you receive the money (rewards) from those who do create, invest, invent and produce the wealth? Liberal backwards thinking always has produced economically destructive consequences!

Kearns, UT

I actually agree with most of what Ultra Bob says.

The only fair tax should be one that everyone pays. I haven't paid income taxes in years due to my deductions. In fact I get a healthy refund every year. I make a good middle class wage. Is it fair that I pay no taxes and get back more than was taken out of my paycheck? I don't think so. I'd say the same thing even if I was making 20K a year.

Frankly, I don't have a problem with anyone, rich or not taking advantage of current law to lower the amount that they pay. I would be in favor of closing loopholes. What I do have a problem with is the government not living within their means.

I want reform to Social Security and Medicare. I want means testing for both and no benefits for those that don't need them. I want the option to take the money that is supposedly in my Social Security account and invest it myself for my retirement. I want the option not to have to play with Medicare if I can find cheaper and better insurance elsewhere.


@ Chris B.: All sources - Conservative and Liberal - agree that the modern American worker produces more than they have at any time in the past. Yet wages for the average American worker have remained stagnant over the past 20 or 30 years. You are absolutely right - it would be great if those who do 90% of the work earned 90% of the income - but they don't.

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