Making the Wealthy Pay Their Fair Share of Taxes

June 13, 2019

For a country essentially born out of a dispute about the inequity of an unjust
system of taxes, it is astonishing as to see how modern-day America now
operates within a deeply dysfunctional economic system built on, you guessed it, inequitable and unjust taxes.


Taxes are a necessary component for any society to function. Despite the
gnashing of the teeth and the swiveling of the eyes of the likes of the Tea Party and the overwhelming majority of the conservative movement, public expenditure (and thus taxes to fund that) is required for things like transport, schools, libraries and those shiny play-things of the right-wing, the police and the
military.


While taxes are a necessary component for any society to function, a defining characteristic of a truly progressive country is a progressive tax system. In a nut-shell, the more you earn, the more tax you should be in a position to pay.


As has been well-documented, wealth inequality in the US is now more
pronounced than ever before. A handful of billionaires are presently worth more than half of the American population (approximately 160 million people) combined. That gross imbalance is subsequently propped up by the current tax system in the US that does nothing, absolutely nothing, for the average worker, let alone the unemployed, the impoverished and the oppressed.


Here’s the deal. The super-rich, the millionaires and billionaires, can afford slick tax advisers, accountants and lawyers to help them avoid as much tax liability as possible. In contrast, those resources are just not simply viable and / or available to millions upon millions of regular Americans – those that a second yacht is simply never going to be any sort of an option, whereas a second mortgage to
afford their kids’ college fees very well may be.


When considering “making the wealthy pay their fair share of taxes” we also have to keep in mind our friends (not friends) - corporate America. The top 50 U.S. companies hold close on $1.5 trillion in off-shore assets so as to avoid paying their fair share in taxes. [1] Endless corporate tax loopholes and legally greased by-passes ensure that corporations and the super-wealthy pay laughably tiny amounts of tax compared to the vast majority of millions of hard-working, financially long-suffering, tax-impoverished Americans.

 

Add to that how the Republicans’, Trump backed “tax cut” of December 2017 was nothing more than pie-in-the-sky wishful thinking for those who thought it offered regular Americans a better tax deal. In reality, all it offered was an ever-yawning national deficit, ever more downward pressure in real terms for the vast majority of American tax-payers and all the while making the wealthy pay ever less by way of tax. [2]


If the US truly wants to join the modern, progressive nations of the twenty-first century, then it needs to fundamentally overhaul its approach to taxation –moving from the current highly regressive system that favors the wealthy fewover everybody else, to a progressive system of taxation that not only works for the many and not just the few, but society as a whole.


Lower taxes for the wealthy and associated nonsense such as “trickle-down” economics patently do not work. American infrastructure has never been as poor as it is now and, it is not at all coincidental, that taxes on the wealthy and corporations have never been as generous as they are now.

 

As Robert Reich, Chancellor’s Professor of Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley,
succinctly summed it up: “The rich aren’t overtaxed. The wealthiest 1 percent in the U.S. pay the lowest
taxes as a percent of their income and total wealth of the top 1 percent in any
major country – and far lower than they paid in the U.S. during the first three decades after World War II, when the American economy grew faster than it’s been growing since the Reagan tax cuts.” [3]


The DNA of the Great Republic was founded on justice egalitarianism and,
ironically, on the principle of far taxation. For the U.S, of the twenty-first century to continue in the way that it does when it comes to taxation, is both absolutely indefensible and an affront to the very founders of the U.S. and all that they wanted the U.S. to be.


[1] https://www.marketwatch.com/story/how-corporate-tax-avoidance-is-
hurting-america-and-the-rest-of-the-world-2016-04-14

[2] https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-republican-tax-cut-is-a-big-
fat-failure/2018/10/22/41c6cc5e-d62f-11e8-aeb7-
ddcad4a0a54e_story.html?noredirect=on&utm_term=.416f49afc4c4
[3] https://www.newsweek.com/robert-reich-why-rich-and-corporations-should-
pay-more-tax-670465

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