Thoughts on taxing the rich
Tax the rich … and then everybody else. That’s the plan our state and federal lawmakers have for us.
I know it’s popular to think that the rich don’t pay their fair share, but the fact is that the top wage earners pay nearly all the federal income taxes. According to 2018 IRS data, the top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (40.1 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (28.6 percent). The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the top 20% of income earners have seen their tax burden increase by 200% since the 1980s.
Despite what the media and politicians would have you believe, the U.S. has one of the most progressive tax policies in the world. You may not be concerned if you don’t count yourself among the top wage earners, but you should be. Our out of control, tax hungry politicians are just getting started and the rich don’t have enough money to fund their plans. Consequently, they are coming for all of us.
The top 10 wealthiest people on the planet have a combined net worth of less than $1.4 trillion. That’s a lot of money, but the U.S. federal deficit for 2020 was $3.1 trillion. If you took all the wealth of the top 10 billionaires, it wouldn’t even cover half the 2020 spending deficit. In fact, the top 25 wealthiest Americans would not be able to cover the debt from just that one year. Don’t be fooled by “tax the rich” rhetoric. Our politicians are going to be taking your money too.
Our state of Washington isn’t quite so progressive, but our legislators have been hard at work developing schemes to take more and more of our money. The constitution of the State of Washington explicitly forbids any kind of income tax. See article VII, Amendment 14, of the state Constitution. Despite that, our lawmakers have implemented two income taxes: a capital gains tax and the now infamous long-term health care tax. These taxes set a dangerous precedent by paving the way for additional income taxes as well as a nearly unrestrained mechanism for extracting more of your money.
We also have the third highest gas tax in the nation. Only Pennsylvania and California have higher gas taxes. And speaking of cars, if you own a hybrid vehicle you pay an additional $70 a year to license your vehicle. This is to fund an electric vehicle infrastructure for plug-in electric vehicles. Even if your hybrid car isn’t a plug-in electric, you still must pay the additional fee for a service your car can never use.
Four times we have voted to reduce our car tabs to $30 or less and four times our lawmakers have ignored us. You can argue that the initiatives were poorly written or violated the state constitution, but the will of the people was made clear … and summarily ignored.
Recently there has been heightened enthusiasm for increasing taxes on businesses. This is foolish at best. If you have ever owned a business, you know that a tax on your business is an expense that is passed along to the consumer. Consumers pay the tax as part of the purchase price of the product or service. If taxes make the business uncompetitive, the business either dies or relocates to a more tax-friendly location — a different city, different state, or different country.
Gov. Jay Inslee also has a role in this tax scheme. While campaigning for the 2012 election, he promised not to raise taxes, but to increase revenue through economic growth. In a press conference following a debate, Gov. Inslee said, “Under my plan, it should not be necessary to address that issue because on my plan we’re not going to request additional taxes.” Seven additional times that year he said that he would not raise taxes. Since then, he has signed into law tax increases that have cost the Washington taxpayers over $58 billion.
I am not anti-tax. I understand the need for local and federal government to be funded. But our lawmakers need to be transparent about the laws they create and the votes they cast. I expect fiscal accountability and responsibility. I’ve attempted to contact our local District 30 State Reps. Jesse Johnson and Jamila Taylor and State Sen. Claire Wilson to discuss tax-related issues. Jesse Johnson emailed me two months after my attempt to contact his office. He passed me off to Rep. Joe Fitzgibbon. I haven’t heard back from him after two months of trying to contact him. An assistant from Jamila Taylor’s office promised to get back to me with answers to my questions. I haven’t heard from her in over two months. Claire Wilson never contacted me. All these representatives have messages on their website, Facebook page, and phone answering services inviting you to contact them or “get in touch” followed by some kind of promise to respond. They don’t want to talk to you, especially if it is about taxes.
We should not be forced to pay higher taxes resulting from out-of-control spending at both the local and federal level. At the current rate of increase from health care spending, environmental spending, income supports and other progressive agendas, our tax structure will have to change. It won’t be just the rich they are coming for; it will be all of us. In Europe, the lower- and middle-class income brackets pay marginal wage tax rate of 49% for income above $37,000. That is, for every dollar you make above $37,000 you would have to give nearly half to the federal government.
This is our future if we don’t hold our elected officials accountable.
Rick Weir, Unincorporated King County