One constant in push to raise taxes on the wealthy: envy

The Oklahoman Editorial Published: September 28, 2012
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AS the rich get richer ... more of their riches enrich the federal government.

Indeed, if more people were in the 1 percent class despised by the class-envy crowd, more money would be flowing to Washington to fund government programs desired by that crowd. Instead, they'd prefer to have fewer 1 percenters, paying ever higher tax rates.

Internal Revenue Service figures cited by The Oklahoman's Chris Casteel show that incomes reported on just 2,405 individual tax returns in Oklahoma accounted for 18 percent of total federal taxes owed in the state for 2010. The figures also show that the top 2 percent of Oklahoma filers earned nearly a quarter of all income in the state, yet they owed 44 percent of federal income taxes.

This group had adjusted gross incomes of more than $200,000. Widening the group to include those with incomes above $100,000 yields a figure of 43 percent of the income and 68 percent of the taxes.

“The rich” in Oklahoma are paying less in federal taxes now than they were before the Bush-era tax cuts and less in state income taxes than they were before recent tax rate adjustments. Restoring the federal rates to the previous level and/or reversing the state tax cuts would indeed bring more money into government coffers.

But this wouldn't change the tax dynamic. The rich would continue to make the most money and pay the most taxes, despite the relatively small size of the group. The non-rich would continue to pay little or no federal taxes and too much in state taxes. The government would get richer, yes, but the people who benefit from voluntary contributions made by the rich would suffer.

This would particularly harm the 36 percent of Oklahomans who owed no federal income taxes in 2010. The class-envy crowd is OK with this because its true motive is to punish the rich and enrich the government. Even under the best scenario, government isn't as efficient in managing resources as the private sector, including nonprofits that must maintain the trust of donors.

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