Obama’s Tax Fallacy II: Updated

By: Larry Walker, Jr.


Tax Fallacy II, 95% B.S.

According to the Tax Policy Center, there were 151 million tax units in 2009 (excluding dependents of other tax units). Out of those 151 million tax units, 65.6 million, or 43.4% had zero or negative tax liabilities here. This confirms that only 56.6% of those who file income tax returns actually pay income taxes. But that’s not the end of the story.

According to the IRS Statistics of Income Report here, at the end of 2008, there were 9.2 million tax units who filed tax returns with additional taxes due. At the end of 2008, although $28.4 billion had been collected, the balance still owed by these 9.2 million tax units was $94.4 billion.

Also according to the same IRS Statistics of Income Report here, at the end of 2008, there were 3.4 million tax units who had open delinquency investigation cases. The net amount of taxes owed by these taxpayers was $24.9 billion. Although $3.8 billion was collected when such returns were filed, the difference of $21.1 billion was still outstanding.

So far we have one report which reveals that there are a total of 151 million tax units within the United States. We also have proof that only 85.4 million (56.6%) of these pay income taxes, while 65.6 million (43.4%) pay none. Next we have statistics from the IRS which tell us that out of the 85.4 million who pay income taxes, 12.6 million (9.2 + 3.4) actually haven’t paid, and in fact, they still owe $115.5 billion ($94.4 + $21.1). Are you with me so far?

So out of the 85.4 million who pay income taxes, 12.6 million actually haven’t paid what they owe. This means that only 72.8 million out of a total of 151 million tax units actually file their tax returns on time, and pay their share of income taxes. Thus, in real terms, only 72.8 million out of 151 million tax units, or 48.2% pay income taxes, while 51.8% do not.

This makes moot the following quote: “I gave 95% of working families a tax cut.”

Although I admit the rhetoric sounds good, when one considers the national debt which is heading towards $19 trillion, one has to wonder whether this is even such a good idea. When one considers an unemployment rate of 10% to 19%, depending on who you believe, one has to wonder what that segment of society thinks about the “95% Fallacy”. Shall we subtract the unemployed from those who pay taxes and add them to those who don’t, or just leave well enough alone?

However you want to look at it, there is no way on earth that 95% of working families received a tax cut. In reality, roughly 51.8% don’t pay any taxes to cut. And between 10% to 19% received a cut alright, but it wasn’t a tax cut. What it works out to, in reality, is more akin to an additional tax burden on the ever shrinking 48.2% who actually do pay income taxes. I’m still waiting for the proof behind those grandiose words. Prove it!


And now we have news that 100,000 federal civilian employees owe just about $1 billion in unpaid federal income taxes. When you tack on retirees and military personnel, the number jumps to 276,000 who owe more than $3 billion. Oh for crying out loud, fire them all starting at the top. Where was it that the buck stops again?

See: Fire Fed Workers Who Don’t Pay Taxes



IRS Statistics of Income

Tax Policy Center


Obama’s Tax Fallacy

By: Larry Walker, Jr. [Updates in Red]

Barack Obama – “I gave 95% of all Working Families a tax cut…”


First of all 43.4% of Americans don’t pay any income taxes. That leaves the rest of us. So did 95% of the 56.6% who actually pay income taxes get a tax cut? I doubt it, but even if that were true, it’s not 95% of all Americans (or ‘working families’, whatever that means) [see Tax Fallacy II: 95% B.S. for more on this].

Is a refundable tax credit the same as a tax cut?

But the real fallacy lies in the fact that refundable tax credits are not tax cuts, but rather, they are subsidies. Subsidies are paid for by taking money from some Americans and giving it to others. This is also known as ‘spreading the wealth around’.

I’m not very cheery knowing that while I have been faithfully paying my mortgage, people are buying foreclosed houses down the street for $110K less than what I owe. And not only that, but the Government is giving them an $8,500 subsidy out of my tax dollars. It’s as if the $110K of potential equity wasn’t enough of a subsidy. Also, when the government refunds a person $8,500 to buy a house, it only applies to those who bought houses, not to 95% of all Americans.

The $400 ($800 for joint filers) Making Work Pay Credit is also a refundable tax subsidy. It is however only available in full to those (a) who made less than $75,000 ($150,000 for joint filers), (b) is reduced if income exceeds these amounts, (c) and it is not available at all for those making over $95,000 ($170,000 for joint filers) in 2009. Is it possible that 95% of Americans who actually pay income taxes made less than $95K ($170K for joint filers) and will get the full credit? Not when the top 50% of wage earners pay 96% of income taxes.

The earned income credit is a well known tax subsidy. If you made $10,000 and have a child, you will pay no taxes and will get back a $4,043 tax subsidy ($3,043 earned income credit, plus $1,000 child tax credit). This is not a tax cut, but rather a 40.43% bonus awarded for not trying very hard.

Non-refundable tax credits represent true tax cuts, as they can only be used to reduce the amount of tax actually owed, with the balance being lost. The child care credit is an example of a non-refundable tax credit, and has not changed in years. The retirement savings credit would be a good way to cut taxes, but unfortunately if you made over $27,750 ($55,500 for joint filers), you don’t qualify. The education credit used to be a way to cut taxes, yet it is already $2,500 per year, so nothing new was stated by Obama when he said he will give out a $10K credit over 4 years. Uh, we already have that, sir. [What is new, however, is that as of 2009, now 40% of the education credit has become a refundable tax subsidy.]

Another tidbit, right now, all three of my kids are in college. I’m divorced and they live with their mother out of state. I am paying part of the way for one while the other two have full scholarships. Because I don’t claim any of them as dependents, I am not allowed any credit for the tuition that I’m paying. I wonder how many others are in the same boat. It’s not that I want anything from the Government, but just want to let you know that there are cracks in the real world.

Capital Gains Tax Cut for Small Business?

Finally, Obama wants to give a Capital Gains Tax Cut for Small Business Investment. What does that mean? A capital gains tax cut only applies if someone has an appreciated asset to sell, which they have held for more than one year. So, first you have to have an appreciated asset. Then you have to either have a small business that buys and sells appreciated long-term assets, or would need to sell your business in order to benefit. The only problem with what Obama said is that the lower Capital Gains Tax rate that we already have, which is currently 0% for those in a 15% or lower tax bracket, already applies. Nothing new here.

As a small business owner I haven’t quite figured out how anyone can really use this one. And what kind of tax rate are we talking about anyway? He didn’t say anything specific. The only way I could use it is if I sold my business. But I don’t want to sell the business. And if I did sell my business I would already benefit from the Section 1244 exclusion or the low capital gains rate.

While you are applauding Obama’s words, you should stop and think about how a capital gains tax cut can benefit a small business. If anyone can explain it to me, I’ll be glad to listen, but to me, it’s just rhetoric.

In conclusion, all I heard from Obama tonight, regarding taxes, was the same class warfare, wealth redistribution rhetoric that I heard in 2008 when I cast my ballot for the other guy.