Jay Evensen: Income tax: a century of class warfare

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  • ronnie sandy, utah
    April 14, 2013 10:01 p.m.

    "The income tax has divided us by salary and wealth in ways difficult to overcome." It looks like we have overcome this problem for decades. In fact, the tax freedom day is now earlier in the year than it was in 1970. I also have a problem feeling sorry for our wealthy class when our list of millionaires and billionaires has grown by leaps of and bounds over the past decades. We currently have close to 30% of the world's millionaires, given the fact we have less than 5% of the world's population my question to Mr. Evenson what is your complaint?

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    April 14, 2013 10:03 p.m.

    @ UtahBlueDevil

    Yes, it seems that all the basic economic principles we learned about in B-school, like supply and demand and price theory, no longer apply. It turns out that the only two determinants to success are tax rates and government regulation. Lower the tax rates and reduce government red tape and profits soar, everybody's employed, and the national debt goes down. Raise either of these, and business owners fold up shop, move to Colorado, and the country goes down the drain.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 14, 2013 9:12 p.m.

    So if I understand the running logic here, rich people just love to hire people. If they make more money, rather than just having higher margins, they will in turn, hire more people, regardless of demand. Is that how the system works? Really?

    There are those who somehow believe the revenue growth is linear. That all you need to do is hire more people, and revenue will go up. I am always puzzled by this logic.

    But that is not what I find so disappointing - its those who proclaim to represent what Christianity really means. This week I travel to California to meet with one of my clients. What we decide this week will impact revenues +/-- several billion to this company. In the balance, the safety and livelihood of those who work for this company. How sad it is that there are those who place money and wealth above the needs of their fellow brethren and sisters.

    I am sure saying this makes me a big fat lefty to many....and I am ok with that. it's about what you stand for, and showing in your life what it is you believe. I hope to be guilty as charged.

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    April 14, 2013 8:48 p.m.

    @Mike Richards

    The idea you continue to push that businesses close and fire their workers because of progressive taxes is a bunch of malarky. The billionaire I work for works harder, innovates more, and in the end hires more people to get back to the same or higher profit level when faced with a challenge like a tax increase.

    Economic studies have shown that only at the far end of the Laffer curve (where tax rates exceed 90%) will entrepreneurs take their marbles off the table and go home. There is a "working harder" effect that equally offsets (as far as they can measure) the "giving up" effect you describe at tax rates that are not extremely excessive (over 90%).

    Furthermore, many factors other than tax rates affect businesses' entry and exit from markets, location choices, decisions to expand and decisions to contract. Tax rates are way down on the list.

  • Mike Richards South Jordan, Utah
    April 14, 2013 6:31 p.m.

    Who is hurt the most by a "progressive tax", the rich or the poor?

    I'll make it easy for you. The poor. Those who cannot earn money without the help of another business are hurt the most when Washington raise Taxes on the "rich guy". The rich guy will close a business and fire people before he will let the government take excessive profits. He will find a way. The poor will continue to be poor, but they will be bought by corrupt politicians who use the poor as pawns.

    If you want to help the poor, then demand that taxes on the rich be lowered so that AMERICAN businesses can remain open ad so that jobs can remain in America. Then, teach the poor new skills that enable them to run their own businesses and hire their friends and neighbors.

    Prosperity is not measured in how much money Washington takes out of society but by how much people can do without looking for help from Washington.

  • The Taxman Los Angeles, CA
    April 14, 2013 9:53 a.m.

    I doubt Mr. Evensen wrote the title to his piece. Why would a journalist want to detract from his own piece (and insure that progressive readers will not seriously consider what he has to say) by using a tired right-wing talking point in the title?

    But I do disagree with his statement at the end that "The income tax has divided us by salary and wealth in ways difficult to overcome."

    First, he throws the idea out there but does not develop or explain it, which is simply not good journalism.

    Second, I believe the statement is false. Right-wing ideologues try to use the income tax to divide us and rile up their base, but the tax is not divisive. I do not drive through poor areas of town and fume about how the people outside my car are not paying enough income tax, do you?

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 14, 2013 8:27 a.m.

    "The only difference between communism, totalitarianism and fascism and a free society is the amount of taxation (in any form) citizens will tolerate"

    @mountainman.... you got something to back this up.... ? Interesting if true.... but I would really like to see some data behind this.

    For example... what was the tax rate under King George? Under Hitler, Stalin... even Castro or Chavez?

    For example, one thing you neglected to include in your comments was that under Nazi rule, before the war, "defense" spending was over 50% of the nations budget (18.4 billion Reichsmark of a 31 billion Reichsmark budget). Of course when war broke out, that percent rose to over 75%.

    Not social programs, but military spending drove those numbers higher. So I am not sure the correlation you are looking for is there.

    But show me the data... I am open to learn.

  • UtahBlueDevil Durham, NC
    April 14, 2013 7:30 a.m.

    "Think of it as putting the bracket on a parenthesis that ends the first chapter of a never-ending experiment in class warfare."

    folowed by

    "If by "pay more" you mean "pay something", then you are right. Too many Americans with voting rights (something they should have BTW) either pay NOTHING in federal income tax or get free money from the government in the form of "tax credits".

    It amazes me that the right continues to demean, declare war, and down right lie about those they feel superior to. As any person who gets a W2 if "nothing" was taken from their pay check. If you are fortunate enough to make less than 100k, you pay 6 percent of your income in taxes. Those who earn more, actually pay less. And those at the top, many pay no social security taxes. But this is all forgotten.

    Adam Smith prescribed a progressive tax system based on peoples ability to pay - not that all should pay the same. Demonizing the poor, mocking them, this is truly a sign of a society that has become callus to the human condition, and the struggles of those who do jobs we choose not to do.

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    April 14, 2013 5:51 a.m.

    I thought the patriots' objection was focused more on the "without representation" than on the "taxation" part of the phrase.

  • Mountanman Hayden, ID
    April 13, 2013 6:48 p.m.

    The only difference between communism, totalitarianism and fascism and a free society is the amount of taxation (in any form) citizens will tolerate. The USA and our personal liberties in this country were born because patriots refused to pay ever more taxes to King George. How things have changed in America.

  • LDS Liberal Farmington, UT
    April 13, 2013 4:56 p.m.

    Special Interests,
    i,e., Secret Combinations.

    "Money is the root of ALL evil".

    You want to wathc the downfall of our civilization?
    Follow the money.

    Conservatives will blame it on moral decay,
    but tha fact is they are the one's promoting, fostering and worshiping Babylon.

  • micawber Centerville, UT
    April 13, 2013 3:54 p.m.

    Where was Mr. Evenson when the Utah legislature was gerrymandering districts to further entrench one party control in this state?

  • Mike in Cedar City Cedar City, Utah
    April 13, 2013 1:39 p.m.

    Evensen is correct about class warfare but the problem isn't the income tax, the problem is greed.

  • Ali'ikai 'A'amakualenalena Provo, UT
    April 11, 2013 12:28 p.m.

    Re: JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT

    Why is it that low-income people are measured by the amount they pay or do not pay in income tax? Statistically, these are low-income people (generally retired people living on a fixed income and the working poor living in poverty) where having to pay more impacts them disproportionately and would give them even less money for food and shelter. Also, allowable deductions, credits, and personal exemptions in the tax code may reduce one' tax liability to zero.

    Those who complain about low-income people not paying income taxes never say anything about tax loopholes which protect high-income people and corporations to their advantage. When an individual can essentially hide millions of dollars in banks outside the U.S., claim certain deductions from which only they benefit, and protect their income from taxation, there is something wrong with the system.

    Finally, everyone (rich and poor alike, those paying federal income tax or not) must pay sales tax, payroll tax, and, if appropriate, property tax. No one is excluded from paying taxes in some form.

    The debate on tax reform is an entirely different issue.

  • Mike in Cedar City Cedar City, Utah
    April 11, 2013 9:15 a.m.

    JoeCapitalist2. Most of those who get those "tax credits" do so because their capitalist employers don't pay them a living wage. You can't get the tax credit unless you actually work.

  • JoeCapitalist2 Orem, UT
    April 11, 2013 8:46 a.m.

    To Mad Hatter who said: "Class warfare", can be translated in conservative-speak: "How do we get those with the least to pay more."

    If by "pay more" you mean "pay something", then you are right. Too many Americans with voting rights (something they should have BTW) either pay NOTHING in federal income tax or get free money from the government in the form of "tax credits".

    In order to stop the runaway spending train in Washington (and in many state and local governments as well), you need EVERYONE voting for the latest candidate or government program, or demonstrating on the street to be thinking "Hey, someone will have to pay for this and at least some of that money will be coming out of MY pocket!"

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    April 11, 2013 5:03 a.m.

    "The other is the tremendous pressure put on Washington by special-interest groups"

    What does that mean Jay. "Tremendous Pressure"?

    You mean like one of their kids was kidnapped and held for ransom?
    Or that they are threatened with bodily harm?

    Isn't the "tremendous pressure" that you elude to really just money and perks?
    Meaning that our congressmen cant possibly resist being bought?

    I agree with the premise that until we get the money out of our politics, our politicians will cater to those with the money.

    Later you mention tax reform. True tax reform wont be achieved until all of the special interests can no longer buy legislation.

    Get the money out first, then everything else will fall into place.

  • Mad Hatter Provo, UT
    April 11, 2013 4:23 a.m.

    The idea that the progressive income tax is "class warfare" boggles the mind. However, there are those who consider the income tax (or any tax, for that matter) is "theft". So the partisan bickering, of which Evensen complains, finds no resolution for the problem.

    Volatile, partisan rhetoric certainly has resonance with like-minded people, but it does nothing toward developing a solution with everyone else. As usual, the framing of the narrative as "warfare" exaggerates the nature of the issue and only creates discord. A journalist recognizes the power of words and the selection, in this case, is like calling taxation "Gestapo tactics" and goes completely over the top. No wonder people looking for a realistic answer to our spending/funding problems get frustrated.

    "Class warfare", can be translated in conservative-speak: "How do we get those with the least to pay more." Nobody likes paying taxes, but the more rationally-minded understand the necessity and recognize that fairness does not mean the least fortunate among us pay a disporportionately greater share. It's surprising Evensen didn't bring up the 47% and the moocher class so he could address all the conservative talking points.