When Democrats and Republicans talk about tax fairness, they are actually talking about two entirely different concepts. Democrats believe in a progressive tax system. Republicans believe in a flatter tax system. Both claim their version is fairer.
Democrats believe the bible verse, “To whom much is given, much is required.” They believe that those who have most benefited from our system should pay the most to support it. They support a progressive income tax structure that taxes everyone the same, but increases the percentage paid as income goes up. For instance, in North Carolina everyone is taxed at 6% of the first $12,500, then at 7% for any money earned between $12,500 and $60,000 and finally, at 7.75% for any money earned above $60,000. So, the more you make, the more you pay.
Republicans despise this notion of redistribution since the wealthiest subsidize those with less income. They adhere to the old saying, “I got mine, sucker.” They prefer consumption taxes in the form of sales taxes. So we are taxed on money going out instead of money coming in. Republicans reason that these taxes are fairer because everyone pays the same percentage of sales tax.
The problem comes when the rich quit spending and start saving and investing. Poor people and lower income people spend everything they make and are, therefore, taxed on virtually every dime that they earn. Wealthy people spend a certain amount of their income and then have the luxury to save or invest the rest. Since the GOP are loath to tax income, savings or investment, this money just goes toward helping the rich get richer.
And the richer they get, the less they depend on government. And the less they depend on government, the less they want to pay for it. So, they take the money they made that is not taxed, hire a lobbyist (for whom they may or may not pay taxes), and encourage politicians to quit taxing them for things they don’t use, like public schools, public transportation, unemployment insurance and Medicaid.
I guess fair is fair.
Thomas Mills is the founder and publisher of PoliticsNC.com. Before beginning PoliticsNC, Thomas spent twenty years as a political and public affairs consultant. Learn more >