[Vision2020] Who pays US income tax?

Jeff Harkins jeffh at moscow.com
Tue Dec 28 12:02:45 PST 2010

  Hi Nick,

Yes, I have heard you argue these points before.  However, you skew the 
sample and leave out important issues for us to consider.

You tend to sample only "successful" countries and you often cite 
Denmark, Norway and Sweden as role models.

You never discuss Greece, Italy, Portugal, Spain, UK, France - where 
each of these countries are undergoing significant fiscal stress.

Also, you don't address the immigration standards.  I would be most 
pleased to adopt any of the immigration standards used by the 
Scandinavian countries.  As a result of their rigid standards, they are 
able to have a relatively homogeneous population.  This circumvents the 
need for massive support for the less affluent - people from the 
Scandinavian countries are expected to pay their own way.  My family, 
the Sorviks, hailed from Norway - our US roots were definitely 
influenced by the Scandinavian culture.

This seems a double edged sword for you - do you condone the rigid 
immigration standards in play by Denmark, Norway, Sweden?

Would you support those standards here in the US?

For those unfamiliar with the aforementioned standards, here are some 
links to quick summaries for Denmark, Norway, Sweden and Germany.  
Obviously, if you are planning to apply for citizenship in any country, 
you should go to the official sites for current regs.  What you might 
want to do is review the standards and see if you meet the minimum 
standards for immigration.  Many of them use a point system.  Most of 
them require that you have a position with a local firm, with a minimum 
salary to assure that you can "pay your way"

Denmark    http://denmarkimmigration.blogspot.com/

Norway    http://www.ehow.com/list_6783527_norway-immigration-laws.html



Nick, this could be an important thread to pursue.  Perhaps we can 
identify some key performance indicators that we agree upon and then set 
about to gather info about selected countries and post those results.  
Perhaps that will help lead our community along a path for how to 
position our community, our state and our country.  Certainly it could 
help us identify our priorities.

Happy new year.

On 12/28/2010 11:02 AM, nickgier at roadrunner.com wrote:
> Hi Jeff,
> Many European countries tax more and then spend more on human and infrastructure investment, and they have better schools, better social and health services, AND lower budget deficits and lower unemployment.
> If you ask for the data, you can find it all at www.home.roadrunner.com/~nickgier/ThirdWay.htm  I just noticed that I have yet to add the Israeli economy column, which I've attached.
> Happy New Year,
> Nick
> ---- Jeff Harkins<jeffh at moscow.com>  wrote:
>>    Paul raises some good points, but unfortunately, it is not all that
>> clear cut.  A few years ago, when a luxury excise tax was imposed on
>> yacht purchasers (as a way of raising taxes on the "rich", the rich
>> simply sailed off shore and purchased French, Dutch, German, English etc
>> yachts.  The unintended consequence was that many who earned their
>> living making yachts for "rich guys" no longer had customers.  The
>> depression that hit the yacht building industry in the US was sustained
>> for many years.
>> There would likely be a similar effect for manufacturers of gold plated
>> faucets.  Rich or poor alike,  there is a point at which each of us
>> draws a line and says no more.
>> Perhaps think about the problem this way:  if you tax people, you
>> provide government with resources for government to spend - that is
>> until you tax them so much that they no longer spend or they shift their
>> spending to a lower transaction cost market.  Then not only have you
>> lost the marginal tax revenue, but you have lost the means of generating
>> income that could be taxed
>> The mess we are in now cannot possibly be rectified by increasing taxes
>> alone - it is going to require sacrifice from all levels.  Cuts in
>> government services are the tip of the iceburg.  Take a close look at
>> the local budgets, the state budgets, the federal budgets - the data are
>> clear  - we must spend less!  And we are all going to sacrifice.
>> Frankly, we are lucky here in ID.  Yes, we could have taxed more and
>> spent more - and where would we be?  We would have a fiscal mess similar
>> to WA, CA, NV, OR.
>> At least, the hole we have dug for ourselves here is manageable - we
>> have stopped digging and have actually made some progress at getting the
>> hole filled.  But it is going to take time and it is going to be
>> unpleasant.
>> On 12/28/2010 9:41 AM, Paul Rumelhart wrote:
>>> Doesn't that seem reasonable? There is some number, dependent upon
>>> where you live and how many dependents you have, that if you make more
>>> than than number you can afford the basics needed to survive
>>> comfortably. Not too comfortably, but you at least have money for
>>> food, clothing, a place to live, some means of transportation to get
>>> to and from your job, and (if you're lucky) some money to put aside
>>> for emergencies. Shifting more of the tax burden to these people is
>>> (in my opinion) not a valid option because you are asking people to
>>> give up on a necessity to pay more taxes.
>>> The more you make, the more you should be able to afford in taxes,
>>> percentage-wise. That's because that minimum number referenced above
>>> becomes a smaller and smaller percentage of your income. The rest is
>>> left to the tax-payer for what are basically luxury goods or
>>> investments. The more you make, the less you are actually able to
>>> spend your money on reasonable things. No one wants a million DVDs, so
>>> you buy luxury yachts and gold-plated faucets. From a national
>>> perspective, some of that money could be better spent on
>>> infrastructure. So if you have to increase taxes, why not increase the
>>> amount most for those people who have the most non-essential income to
>>> take?
>>> Paul
>>> Jeff Harkins wrote:
>>>> Data from the US Treasury Department might surprise some of you:
>>>> http://usgovinfo.about.com/od/incometaxandtheirs/a/whopaysmost.htm
>>>> Here are some highlights -
>>>> # The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid 33.7 percent of all individual
>>>> income taxes in 2002. This group of taxpayers has paid more than 30
>>>> percent of individual income taxes since 1995. Moreover, since 1990
>>>> this group’s tax share has grown faster than their income share.
>>>> # Taxpayers who rank in the top 50 percent of taxpayers by income pay
>>>> virtually all individual income taxes. In all years since 1990,
>>>> taxpayers in this group have paid over 94 percent of all individual
>>>> income taxes. In 2000, 2001, and 2002, this group paid over 96
>>>> percent of the total.
>>>> Treasury Department analysts credit President Bush's tax cuts with
>>>> shifting a larger share of the individual income taxes paid to higher
>>>> income taxpayers. In 2005, says the Treasury, when most of the tax
>>>> cut provisions are fully in effect (e.g., lower tax rates, the $1,000
>>>> child credit, marriage penalty relief), the projected tax share for
>>>> lower-income taxpayers will fall, while the tax share for
>>>> higher-income taxpayers will rise.
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