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# REPEAT - been around before....refresher lesson

by Del McMullen / May 2, 2004 2:30 PM PDT

While you're watching the political commercials and listening to the politicians spin their web around unsuspecting and misinformed people...a "Reality" lesson in economics.

Top 1% earn 21% of all income, and pay 37-1/2% of all taxes.

Top 5% earn 35% of all income, pay 56-1/2% of all taxes.

Top10% earn 46% of all income, pay 67% of all taxes.

Top 25% pay 84% of all taxes.

Top 50% pay 96-1/2% of all taxes.

Bottom 50% pay 3-1/2% of all taxes.

Just in case you are not completely clear on this issue, we hope the following will help.

Tax Cuts - A Simple Lesson In Economics.

Let's put tax cuts in terms everyone can understand. Suppose that every day, ten people go out for dinner. The bill for all ten comes to \$100. If they paid their bill the way we pay our taxes, it would go something like this:

The first four people (the poorest) would pay nothing. The fifth would pay \$1. The sixth would pay \$3. The seventh \$7. The eighth \$12. The ninth \$18. The tenth person (the richest) would pay \$59.

So, that's what they decided to do. The ten people ate dinner in the restaurant every day and seemed quite happy with the arrangement, until one day, the owner threw them a curve.

"Since you are all such good customers," he said, "I'm going to reduce the cost of your daily meal by \$20."

So, now dinner for the ten only cost \$80. The group still wanted to pay their bill the way we pay our taxes.

So, the first four people were unaffected. They would still eat for free. But what about the other six, the paying customers? How could they divvy up the \$20 windfall so that everyone would get his 'fair share'?

The six people realized that \$20 divided by six is \$3.33. But if they subtracted that from everybody's share, then the fifth person and the sixth person would each end up being 'PAID' to eat their meal.

So, the restaurant owner suggested that it would be fair to reduce each person's bill by roughly the same amount, and he proceeded to work out the amounts each should pay.

And so: The fifth person, like the first four, now paid nothing (100% savings). The sixth now paid \$2 instead of \$3 (33% savings). The seventh now paid \$5 instead of \$7 (28% savings). The eighth now paid \$9 instead of \$12 (25% savings). The ninth now paid \$14 instead of \$18 (22% savings). The tenth now paid \$49 instead of \$59 (16% savings).

Each of the six was better off than before. And the first four continued to eat for free. But once outside the restaurant, the people began to compare their savings.

"I only got a dollar out of the \$20," declared the sixth person. He pointed to the tenth person "but he got \$10!"

"Yeah, that's right," exclaimed the fifth person. "I only saved a dollar, too. It's unfair that he got ten times more than me!"

"That's true!!" shouted the seventh person. "Why should he get \$10 back when I got only \$2? The wealthy get all the breaks!"

"Wait a minute," yelled the first four people in unison. "We didn't get anything at all. The system exploits the poor!"

The nine people surrounded the tenth and beat him up.

The next night the tenth person didn't show up for dinner, so the nine sat down and ate without him. But when it came time to pay the bill, they discovered something important. They didn't have enough money between all of them for even half of the bill!

And that, boys and girls, journalists and college professors, is how our tax system works. The people who pay the highest taxes get the most benefit from a tax reduction. Tax them too much, attack them for being wealthy, and they just may not show up at the table anymore. There are lots of good restaurants in Europe and the Caribbean.

According to the internet copies, David R. Kamerschen, Ph.D. Distinguished Professor of Economics. wrote this.

HOWEVER, contrary to Internet folklore, Dr. Kamerschen is NOT the author of "Tax Cuts: A Simple Lesson in Economics." Additionally, he does NOT know who wrote it.

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The more interesting question is ...
by Bill Osler / May 3, 2004 11:56 AM PDT

Whoever wrote it has apparently not been interested in claiming credit, since there have been a variety of attributions and none of them is ironclad.

A more interesting question is: 'Is the description of the tax system accurate?' Are the per centages approximately correct?

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Re:The more interesting question is ...
by dirtyrich / May 3, 2004 12:32 PM PDT

Bill, while I can't say the percentages are dead on at the top, I do remember my old economics professor stating percentages like those.
Now the real crime in taxes is in the federal entitlements like welfare, medicaid, and such. I don't mind the programs themselves, but the programs have become so broad and cover so many different problems that they have become inefficient, wasting money on maintaining the organization as opposed to helping those in need.

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Re: REPEAT - been around before....refresher lesson

Hi, Dr. Bill.

I have similar stats but with AGI (adjusted growth income) figures, rather than % of total.

Percentiles Ranked by AGI For Tax Year 2001
AGI Threshold on Percentiles Percentage of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid

Top 1% \$292,913 33.89

Top 5% \$127,904 53.25

Top 10% \$92,754 64.89

Top 25% \$56,085 82.90

Top 50% \$28,528 96.03

Bottom 50% <\$28,528 3.97

Source: Internal Revenue Service and www.ntu.org

-- Dave K, Speakeasy Moderator

The opinions expressed above are my own,
and do not necessarily reflect those of CNET!

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