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

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  • one old man Ogden, UT
    March 22, 2013 2:31 p.m.

    Dan Liljenquist is certainly working hard to keep his name in front of voters. He seems to have found a willing partner in the Deseret News.

    Would other losing candidates like Donna McAleer be welcomed on these pages?

  • Redshirt1701 Deep Space 9, Ut
    March 22, 2013 1:08 p.m.

    To the liberals who have commented so far, please define what the term "fair share" means in a quantitative way.

    To "Maudine" you are completely wrong. The wealthy control about 40% of all wealth and pay over 40% of all income taxes, but that is not fair because they only recieve 20% of all wages yet pay over 40% of all income taxes.

    Also, since when do we tax wealth instead of income?

    To "Kent C. DeForrest" then you are all for making all political positions and jobs unpaid volunteer work. What wealth does the POTUS create?

    As for businesses, who creates the profits the guy operating the machinery or the guy who buys the machinery? Who is risking more, and why should somebody who risks nothing benefit the same as somebody who risks everything?

  • samhill Salt Lake City, UT
    March 22, 2013 12:52 p.m.

    HA, Ha, Hee, hee!

    It is positively hilarious to witness people vilifying "the rich" as they explain why "the rich" either aren't being vilified or really deserve to be since they either should pay their "fair" share (as defined by the vilifiers, of course) or stop whining because they have more than they should have (as defined by the vilifiers, of course) and should instead adopt the proper attitude of submitting to the proper common good (as defined by the vilifiers, of course).

    Hypocrisy simply knows no bounds when it comes to the hubris of socialists who define all property as common and **they** alone as the proper adjudicators of proper ownership.

    Little wonder then at the many studies that have repeatedly shown that those with the most "progressive" and "liberal" mind sets are also the least generous with their "property", routinely giving the least to charitable organizations. The pattern is very well documented but nowhere better demonstrated than the comparative amounts and even percentages of charitable deductions versus incomes of the candidates in last year's Presidential election.

    The simply, well-documented and indisputable fact is that progressives are only generous with the money/property of **other** people.

  • airnaut Everett, 00
    March 22, 2013 12:25 p.m.

    I love to read/hear Conservative comments about how the "rich" are the producers and wealth and job "creators -- whilst trashing minorities, the working poor, and immigrants.

    Nothing could be further from the truth.

    Who creates the wealth?

    The ones who build those houses, work in those slaughter houses, work the fields of agriculture, ditch digging grunt work for minimum wages...and who pay little to no tax.

    or

    The fat-cat WallStreet traders who buy low and sell high, without lifting a finger or producing ANYTHING. [Gadianton Money Changers]

    Who's obeying the Lord?
    ...by the sweat of thy brow....or Law of the Harvest.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    March 22, 2013 10:58 a.m.

    The trouble is, the reward for the people who work the hardest almost always goes to the CEOs of the companies. The average employee works extremely hard for a 1% or 2% COLA while upper management cashes in on the huge bonuses and raises.
    They system rewards those who often times least deserves it. The middle class shouldn't have the tax burden, they should have the buying power in America. If the middle class has the extra money to shop and eat out, the economy would rarely collapse.
    Instead the top 10% has the extra money but there aren't enough of them to stimulate the economy.
    The last 30+ years of Reaganomics has been a failure. Cutting taxes on the most wealthy has never boosted the economy.
    There is no such thing as "trickle down economics". It's never worked and most likely never will.

  • Devany Massapequa Park, NY
    March 22, 2013 9:36 a.m.

    The tax code caused the top 10% to prosper while the middle class lost 8% of their wealth and the bottom 50% of the population lost 70% of their net wealth between 1995 and 2010. The $1.2 trillion in tax expenditures cause the deficit and primarily help high earners.The regressive, job killing payroll taxes hurt middle class workers. A fair distribution of the tax burden would not leave half the population with only 1% of the nation's wealth and only $3 for every $10 they had in 1995.
    A 2% tax on net wealth (excluding $15,000 cash and $500,000 in retirement funds) and 8% tax on income would be fair for rich and poor.

  • wrz Pheonix, AZ
    March 21, 2013 10:16 p.m.

    @Maudine:
    "If you own 72% of the wealth of America, you should be paying 72% of the taxes collected."

    Sorry to advise, Maudine, but in this country wealth is not taxed. Only 'income' is taxed. If wealth were taxed, within a few short years all of a person's wealth would end up owned by the government.

    @patriot:
    "I would prefer a 'FLAT TAX' which would be ...say 15% ... for everyone regardless of income level."

    You're forgetting that the tax 'rate' is but one part of figuring a tax. There are deductions from income significantly effecting the tax. And much of those deductions have an economic function... such as the mortgage interest and property tax deductions to encourage home ownership and the education deduction to encourage an educated public. And don't forget the 'long term capital gains tax rate' to encourage investment in the nation's capital assets. Furthermore, the personal exemption deduction provides an allowance to feed and clothe the family.

    @Nate:
    "...Also, all of the accounting necessary to tally up everyone's net worth each year doesn't come cheap."

    Furthermore, a person's wealth is none of the government's business.

  • EDM Castle Valley, Utah
    March 21, 2013 10:11 p.m.

    Dan,
    If Bill Maher "gets most things wrong", then you sadly just don't get it.

  • Ernest T. Bass Bountiful, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:04 p.m.

    Chris B: 90% of the work? Corporate CEOs who make well into the 8 figures are not doing 100s of times the amount of work as the employees who make $30,000.

  • wrz Pheonix, AZ
    March 21, 2013 8:57 p.m.

    @Maudine:
    "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."

    That's approximately the way it is now.

    "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..."

    The poor in America are not so poor. I would bet that most own cell phones, ipads, TV's w/cable, a decent vehicle, and eat at a fast food probably regularly. What more does one need to feel wealthy?

    "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."

    Multi-billion dollar corporations pay no taxes. No business (corporate or otherwise) pays taxes. The 'tax' it pays is passed to the consumer via the cost of goods and services sold to the consuming public. The ultimate tax payer is the consuming public.

  • JSB Sugar City, ID
    March 21, 2013 7:32 p.m.

    I don't know what's a fair amount of income tax to pay but it is so unfair of the government to waste it, no matter how much is paid. I am so sick of seeing our tax money frivolously wasted. The government, including Barack Obama have a moral responsibility to spend the tax $ prudently. This, the government refuses to do.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    March 21, 2013 5:54 p.m.

    @Maudine

    Ther is no such thing as a fair share.

    (God just expect porportionately the same from everyone)

    Your stats are irrelevant.

    You percentages oare irrelevant

    What you make s irrelevant.

    How much you own is irrelevant

    Private property is relevant.

    The 14th amendment is relevant. all laws must apply EQUALLY.

    Liberty is relevant.

    The founding fathers NEVER wanted a personal income tax, because it is just plain evil.

    And it beomes all about taking and all about coveting what another has.

    which the left does.

    It turns wage earners into societal slaves.

    Which the left does.

    And teaches hate for others.

    Which the left does.

    And such leftest tax demands destroy, in many ways (extreme increase of dependency and entitlement, lack of incentive, hate for others, loss of charity, stopping technical progress, stopping or slowing or making very exspenive business growth and creation, extreme debt, just to name a few), the country and people it is intended to help.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 21, 2013 5:44 p.m.

    "I would like the progressives in the room to state their definition of fairness. Right now, it only seems to be "they have it, and I want it."

    Nate... Really? The poor are contributing. Every check they earn, they pay FICA and social security. On every gallon of gas they buy, they pay just as much tax as a rich person. The poor over proportionally enlist to serve in this nations military, and over proportionally pay with their lives in the service of this country.

    Now are their those that take advantage of the system... Undoubtably yes. But this is not a "progressives" issue. Utah, as a percentage of population, a state with a well funded church sponsored assistance, has more people per capita collecting food stamps than liberal haven California.

    I do agree - everyone should pay something. But there is not a crises here where wealthy aren't being able to pay their bills or feed their families because of tax burden. There are millions of lower class and middle class who do have to adjust their standard of living due to taxes.

    Everyone should contribute... absolutely.... but the rich are not being victimized.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 21, 2013 5:29 p.m.

    "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?"

    You are absolutely right.... I am in that top 95% era..... so I want 95% of the benefits. In fact, I want to be put on a priority list with emergency serves. I want hours on the highways set aside for those who pay the most... or at least a high earners lanes setup on the highways. Going through TSA - I want a high earners lane. And in the national parks.... I want days set aside where I don't have to deal with those making say under 100K.

    SInce this is about redistributing of wealth... I am tired of all you middle class people leaching off of my tax dollars.

    I hope you know I am not serious.... I am a 95%er... but I would never dream that somehow government and the benefits thereof should be proportional to the amount paid.

    And every citizen does pay taxes based on their income.... a minimum of 6%... no matter how little you earn.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    March 21, 2013 5:06 p.m.

    @Maudine:

    We are talking about income tax, right? So let's tie the income tax to the income, not accrued investment (i.e. wealth).

    You are so stuck in your jealousy that you can't even see straight. You fall perfectly into the welfare mentality where you squander what comes in so you won't have any savings and you can qualify for medicaid and welfare. We have rewarded stupid financial choices for too long, and you are the result.

    Nate answered this perfectly. Try to open your mind for a minute.

    "So your measure of fairness is based on ownership. Consider this scenario: Household A earns $50,000 a year. They save and invest, and over time, build up a good nest egg. Household B also earns $50,000 a year. They quickly spend every dime they make, and after several years don't have much to show for it.

    Should Household A be taxed more than Household B? Suppose you say yes, because they own/control more wealth. Then are we not punishing Household A for behaving wisely? In what way is this fair?"

    And the answer is: not fair or smart in any way. It promotes irresponsibility and poverty.

  • Bill Freeze Lindon, UT
    March 21, 2013 4:34 p.m.

    Good article Dan....the wealthy in our country pad a lot of taxes and give to alot of charities....if we have rich people that are not doing their part they should be ashamed. All Americans should contribute soemthing to Federal taxes.....that fact that 50% don't is one reason why we are in trouble. The main problem in all of this is WASTE! Estimate run between 40-50% of all tax dollars are wasted or their is fraud involved. You are alwasy going to have some waste, but our numbers are way too high. When you build a house of cards the day will come in the not to distant future that they will all fall down and then the middle class and poor will really suffer!

  • Red Salt Lake City, UT
    March 21, 2013 4:31 p.m.

    10% flat tax for everyone. Eliminate the scam of the game.

    We will be flush with cash.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    March 21, 2013 4:18 p.m.

    Our tax laws should not seek to punish success nor to provide any significant amount of redistribution. Rather, they should seek to simply raise revenue fairly.

    We should be very interested in how to reverse the bifurcation of our populace into rich and poor and to return to a strong and vibrant middle class.

    The dangers of wealth concentration were commented upon in 1875 by the First Presidency and Quorum of 12:

    “The experience of mankind has shown that the people of communities and nations among whom wealth is the most equally distributed, enjoy the largest degree of liberty, are the least exposed to tyranny and oppression and suffer the least from luxurious habits which beget vice.”

    “One of the great evils with which our own nation is menaced at the present time is the wonderful growth of wealth in the hands of a comparatively few individuals. The very liberties for which our fathers contended so steadfastly and courageously, and which they bequeathed to us as a priceless legacy, are endangered by the monstrous power which this accumulation of wealth gives to a few individuals and a few powerful corporations.”

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 21, 2013 3:09 p.m.

    Re:m.g.scott
    You're referring to the mythical Romney.
    Four of the top 10 companies which generated money for Bain ended up in bankruptcy. David Stockman, Reagan's budget director said "Mitt Romney was not a businessman; He was a master financial speculator who bought, sold, flipped and stripped businesses."

    Re:What in Tucket

    The Laffer curve is typically represented as a graph which starts at 0% tax with zero revenue, rises to a maximum rate of revenue at an intermediate rate of taxation, and then falls again to zero revenue at a 100% tax rate.

    Many would argue we are closer to the 0% tax rate side of the curve, with lower revenues, than the 100% tax rate side of the curve.

  • Darrel Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 21, 2013 3:06 p.m.

    @patriot

    The problem with a flat tax is that it still disproportionally places a burden on those making a lower income.

    With a salary at poverty level, one would immediately feel it if they lost 15% of their income. They may have to decide if they get to feed their kids, or pay the power bill and keep the house warm.

    If someone who makes ten times the poverty level lost 15% of their income, the effects would not be as noticeable on their purchasing power/lifestyle.

    Does the waitress working double shifts making enough to pay the rent, needing food stamps to pay for food for her kids work any less hard then say, Mitt Romney? Society may not place as high a value on her work, but to call her lazy is just wrong. Does a Soldier in Afghanistan work any less hard than the CEO of Exxon?

    I can certainly appreciate wanting everyone to "have skin in the game" but I think a progressive tax is more appropriate.

    FYI There are plenty of Utah families that would see an increased financial burden come tax time with a flat tax couldn't claim their kids as exemptions.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    March 21, 2013 3:07 p.m.

    To What in Tucket?

    The Laffer curve really does work and is the best economic model for tax vs. growth. I only wish more politicians would adhere to it.

  • What in Tucket? Provo, UT
    March 21, 2013 2:26 p.m.

    According to the Laffer curve as tax rates rise the revenue may begin to decrease until at 100% tax no tax revenue will be realized. On the other hand as you lower taxes you may be pleased to see an increase in tax revenue. With lower tax rates the economy improves so the result is positive in tax generation. Over tax and the economy sags as it is now doing.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    March 21, 2013 2:22 p.m.

    Re: Kent C. DeForrest

    First off, if you do have good points, you minimalize them by attacking Mitt Romney. He saved many companies that otherwise would have gone under. Therefore he was responsible for jobs.

    Secondly, what you seem to be saying is that all corporations and or big businesss are always bad, and that corporations and big business should be done away with. Do I understand you correctly? If so, then please give us your economic plan that would work. If not then please clarify your point.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 21, 2013 1:46 p.m.

    @Maudine "If you own 43% of the wealth of America, you should be paying 43% of the taxes collected."

    Ah. You're talking about a wealth tax. Great idea, if you want to see capital and intellect flee the country. Also, all of the accounting necessary to tally up everyone's net worth each year doesn't come cheap. If you think the rich are taking advantage of loopholes now, wait until you ask them to do property valuations. Valuations are a tricky business to begin with, even when they're not the basis for taxation.

    There's also the scenario I brought up this morning, where the household that accumulates wealth gets punished for it. All in the name of fairness, right?

    I believe other nations have tried wealth taxes, and had disappointing results. But hey: liberalism is practically synonymous with disappointment.

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 21, 2013 1:43 p.m.

    @patriot and other conservative commenters:

    I find it fascinating how you seemingly would be willing to die defending the economic freedom of the wealthy, whom you love to refer to as "job creators," even if they do not create any jobs (like Mitt Romney). But what about the economic liberty of the job holders? Why are you not willing to lift a finger to grant them economic liberty and democracy? Most slave away in what can only be described as authoritarian economic institutions, be they large corporations or small businesses. Why do you so ardently defend a system of economic authoritarianism? Heavens, learn some history. Try to see the larger picture.

    At its outset, capitalism was a rebellion against the aristocratic system of ownership that aggregated all the wealth in a few hands. We have deviated so far from Adam Smith's initial vision that capitalism has now become precisely what it was originally rebelling against. Where did we go wrong? Primarily in caving in to the corporate form of ownership that America's Founders did not trust. They had seen the fruits of the British East India Company and didn't want to perpetuate them. Why do we?

  • Noodlekaboodle Poplar Grove, UT
    March 21, 2013 1:24 p.m.

    If a flat tax means no income tax returns why do I still have to file a return with the state of Utah? They take 5% of my money, but they also demand a tax return.

  • m.g. scott LAYTON, UT
    March 21, 2013 12:35 p.m.

    Anyone ever considered using as a tax plan the tithe policy. In the LDS Church you are an equal tithe payer whether you are paying 100 dollars or 1,000,000 dollars. As long as it is 10% of your increase. For government, it likely couldn't be as low as 10%, but say an accross the board tax on all increase (income) of 30%. No deductions, loopholes, no using capital gains rates, or anything to get around taxes. A flat out tax of 30% for everyone. You could even call it the "Flat Tax". Sound familiar? The only problem with a flat tax is H&R Block along with thousands of lawyers and accountants would be out work. I could live with that for the long term benefit it would yield.

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 21, 2013 11:39 a.m.

    If you haven't read Paul Ryan's budget ..you should. Although it isn't perfect it does take a BIG step in the right direction. I would prefer a 'FLAT TAX' which would be ...say 15% ... for everyone regardless of income level. Someone making 35k per year would pay 5250 and someone making 350k would pay 52500. So this is 'FAIR' since both pay the same percentage but the rich still pay more actual dollars. Ryan proposes having two tax brackets - a 10% and a 25% bracket. The wealthy would all be in the 25% bracket and everyone else would be in the 10% bracket. This is much more fair than today since EVERYONE has skin in the game and is contributing. With Ryan's plan the lower class actually DO care now about taxes since they have to pay them now. With a flat tax - the preferred way - a corrupt demagogue like Obama couldn't come in and jack up taxes because the poor would rebel. I fear for America's future - my kids future and their kids. Socialism will destroy America as it has Europe but not enough people take the time to understand for themselves until its too late.

  • Cameron Eagle Mountain, UT
    March 21, 2013 11:12 a.m.

    To all those freaking out about this column: Take it up with Bill Maher.

  • Whatever Springville, UT
    March 21, 2013 11:10 a.m.

    It's funny how the tea party started out as a rant against Obama and then got taken over by the Koch brothers who have now flat out hoodwinked those poor and middle class people into thinking that the only thing that can save America is for the wealthy to pay no taxes. It's the one and only thing that the useless tea party stands for. It's their battle, you just fight it for them. Just keep bashing the American worker, you know the ones that built this country through their WORK not their daddy's money. It's a real noble thing you're doing.

  • storm3033 Vernal, Utah
    March 21, 2013 10:52 a.m.

    Cypriot banks are full of Russian mob money made from drug and weapons selling and hidden in Cyprus. This is money that was spirited out of Russia in order to avoid income tax. I can see how Cyprus imposing a tax on bank funds could hurt a small saver but something needed to be done concerning the ill gotten funds parked in their country. What people don't consider is the rampart tax evasion taking place in Cyprus or the rampart tax evasion in countries like Greece and Italy. There needs to be some form of regulation regarding taxes not to mention compliance from this countries in order to pay their debts. Apparently Cyprus does not wish to be the Grand Cayman of the Mediterranean for the Russian mob.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 21, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    Generally speaking, wealth is the value of everything a person or family owns, minus any debts. However, for purposes of studying the wealth distribution, economists define wealth in terms of marketable assets, such as real estate, stocks, and bonds, leaving aside consumer durables like cars and household items because they are not as readily converted into cash and are more valuable to their owners for use purposes than they are for resale.

    As of 2010, the top 1% of households (the upper class) owned 35.4% of all privately held wealth.

    Income is what people earn from work, but also from dividends, interest, and any rents or royalties that are paid to them on properties they own.

    The top 1% of income earners received 17.2% of all income in 2009. Up from 12.8% for the top 1% in 1982.

    The top 0.01% -- that's one-hundredth of one percent -- receiving 6% of all U.S. wages, which is double what it was for that tiny slice in 2000.

    If "fairness" is to be the measuring stick-- all taxes paid as a percent of income should be considered--not just income tax.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:32 a.m.

    @ Badgerbadger: According to Forbes, not exactly a Liberal magazine, the top 5% of wealth controllers own 72% of the wealth of America, with the top 1% owning 43%. The top 1% is worth about 70x what the lower classes are worth. According to AEI, the 1% paid 37.4% of total income taxes in 2010. According to The Weekly Standard, the top 1% paid 16.4% of the total federal tax burden.

    If you own 43% of the wealth of America, you should be paying 43% of the taxes collected.
    If you own 72% of the wealth of America, you should be paying 72% of the taxes collected.
    If you are worth 70x the value of other Americans, you should be paying 70x the taxes.

    Even the most Conservative websites acknowledge that the wealthiest Americans pay a percentage of taxes lower than the percentage of the wealth they own.

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:33 a.m.

    @UtahBlueDevil "...expecting you to pay proportionally is punnishment?"

    No, it wouldn't be. But our federal taxes are not assessed proportionally. (See the numbers I posted at 10:06 AM.)

    I would like the progressives in the room to state their definition of fairness. Right now, it only seems to be "they have it, and I want it."

  • aceroinox Farmington, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:24 a.m.

    Maudine and others here who claim the "rich" are controlling too large a proportion of the wealth in this country are working under the false assumption that there is finite amount of it, and no more of it can be created. Therein lies the malaise that afflicts our country. We have a president who peddles a "victim" mentality, one that encourages people to look outward for solutions, instead of taking responsibility and looking inward. Each of us, no matter how devoid of money, has the means to lift ourselves if but armed with self-confidence and correct philosophies. We need to help and encourage one another to discover our unique spark of greatness and build on that. Can wealth be created from nothing? You bet it can! "What the human mind can conceive and believe, it can achieve." Let's arm ourselves, our children, our friends, our neighbors with self-confidence, belief in opportunity and support for their dreams, and then watch our economy take off.

    Of course, it would help if government were a little more friendly to small business--it's the real engine of progress in this nation!

  • patriot Cedar Hills, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:19 a.m.

    Just take a look at what 'socialism' is doing in Europe if you want a peak into Obama's so-called 'fair share' agenda. In France socialist leader Francois Hollande is pushing for a 75% income tax on the wealthy. In Cyprus the government wanted to dip into everyones personal bank account to pay for the gigantic deficit created by entitlements and the people said NO ...at least for now but make no mistake France will get their 75% tax and Cyprus will invade peoples bank accounts more sooner than later. This progressive cancer is destroying nation after nation after nation economically and here is the worst thing...it is destroying America and most people will have no clue until its too late...which it basically is. There is a democrat caucus in congress that wants a 49% income tax ... YES 49%. That is one half of your income gone. Now add to that your state tax and you are left with perhaps 30% of your income which is in-line with socialist thinking. America is going to die unless socialist is thrown out but as I said...I think its too little too late.

  • dmamanakis Riverdale, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:19 a.m.

    Dan Liljenquist,
    Fair? There are only 3 real ways to achieve "fair" when it comes to taxation:
    1) EVERYONE: Every Business, Every Person, EVERYONE pays the exact same percentage in tax. From rich to poor, old to young...
    OR...
    2) EVERYONE: Every Business, Every Person, EVERYONE pays the exact same dollar amount in tax. From rich to poor, old to young...
    OR...
    3) National Sales Tax: The Rich buy more, pay more in tax. The Poor buy less, pay less in tax. The tax rate would remain the same and be on everything except "unprepared foods" (like the sales tax in Washington state, etc).
    Pick One.

    These ideas also understand that all loopholes, subsidies, credits, deductions, etc, are all REMOVED and no longer part of the tax plan.
    We must also have a Balanced Budget to work with these plans, as they are likely to generate TOO MUCH REVENUE to begin with, and refunds should happen, not more spending to get rid of any overage.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 21, 2013 10:17 a.m.

    "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!"

    Are you seriious? Punnishing the rich? Making people pay according to their means... that is punnishment? If youi hold the majority of weatlh - expecting you to pay proportionally is punnishment?

    Ok... more victim talk. The poor persecuted rich... perhaps we should have a telethone to help them out in this moment of distress.

    By the way, the richest people in the nation... are clustered in which two state? I'll give you a hint, it isn't Utah and Idaho.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 21, 2013 10:15 a.m.

    @ Maudine. Is that why nearly everything we buy has "Made in China" on the label?

  • Nate Pleasant Grove, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:06 a.m.

    @Chris B

    What do you get for taking 99% of the risk?

    @Maudine "...own/control..."

    So your measure of fairness is based on ownership. Consider this scenario: Household A earns $50,000 a year. They save and invest, and over time, build up a good nest egg. Household B also earns $50,000 a year. They quickly spend every dime they make, and after several years don't have much to show for it.

    Should Household A be taxed more than Household B? Suppose you say yes, because they own/control more wealth. Then are we not punishing Household A for behaving wisely? In what way is this fair?

    Suppose your answer is no (they should be taxed according to income). In 2010, the top 1% of earners reported about 19% of the total income earned, but they paid about %37 of the total taxes. The top 5% of earners reported 34% of the total income earned, but paid 59% of the total taxes. The top 10% reported 45% of the total income, but paid 70% of the total taxes. By what measure of fairness are they not already paying too much?

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    @ 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.

  • Flashback Kearns, UT
    March 21, 2013 10:03 a.m.

    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.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 21, 2013 9:44 a.m.

    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!

  • Chris B Salt Lake City, UT
    March 21, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    @Maudine,

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

  • Kent C. DeForrest Provo, UT
    March 21, 2013 9:18 a.m.

    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.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 21, 2013 9:06 a.m.

    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!

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    March 21, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    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.

  • Ultra Bob Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 21, 2013 9:00 a.m.

    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.

  • cjb Bountiful, UT
    March 21, 2013 8:47 a.m.

    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.

  • Badgerbadger Murray, UT
    March 21, 2013 8:37 a.m.

    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.

  • Truthseeker SLO, CA
    March 21, 2013 8:39 a.m.

    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.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    March 21, 2013 8:34 a.m.

    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.

  • Roland Kayser Cottonwood Heights, UT
    March 21, 2013 8:23 a.m.

    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.

  • pragmatistferlife salt lake city, utah
    March 21, 2013 7:56 a.m.

    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.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    March 21, 2013 7:42 a.m.

    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

  • one vote Salt Lake City, UT
    March 21, 2013 7:13 a.m.

    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.

  • ECR Burke, VA
    March 21, 2013 6:59 a.m.

    "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?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    March 21, 2013 5:59 a.m.

    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.

  • Maudine SLC, UT
    March 21, 2013 3:51 a.m.

    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.

  • procuradorfiscal Tooele, UT
    March 21, 2013 2:38 a.m.

    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?"