Happy Tax Day

First, let me apologize for the unusually long hiatus from the blog. I’m hoping to get back in to the swing of things here, so I’ll start off a little slow with a gentle reminder on the subject of taxes. Namely, people tend to be generally confused — sometimes willfully — by the term “income tax.” Consider this garbage from Scott Hodge, President of the Tax Foundation:

But that is no longer the case for a growing class of Americans for whom the price of civilized society has been reduced to zero because the tax code’s generous credits and deductions completely erase their income tax liability.

And for many of these nonpayers, civilized society actually pays them a hefty refund, which is not much different from a welfare check except that it’s run through the tax code instead of through the Department of Health and Human Services.

It’s true that a segment of the population pays no federal income tax, which is the federal tax applied to working income. Of course, this ignores completely the contributions to civil society made by people in lower income brackets through other payroll taxes like those for Medicare, Social Security, State, City and excise and sales taxes — all of which are broadly regressive since they are applied at a more or less fixed rate. When you look at all the full taxation spectrum, things are hardly so dire for those who pay income taxes.

This myth that a large swathe of Americans pay no taxes is absurd, but is also a byproduct of our needlessly complicated patchwork tax system.

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