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I 'heart' taxes

Commentator Melissa Chadburn says paying your taxes shows you value your community.

Melissa Chadburn: I love taxes. When I pay my taxes I am telling my community I value you.


Kai Ryssdal: Commentator Melissa Chadburn.


Chadburn: I'm talking about the guy who works for Department of Transportation who helped me get to and from school and thousands of job interviews.

I'm talking about my teachers: Ms. Smith who was my high school English teacher and saw something in me. Ms. Marshall, the junior high journalism instructor who saw I was abused and got me into foster care -- a long, achy road, but one that perhaps saved my life.

The nurses who tended to me when I was exposed to tuberculosis as a young child. The military that helped so many members of my family escape poverty and discover a nation they believed in so much they'd risk their lives for it.

The firefighters who do the unthinkable, who run into burning buildings for perfect strangers. Firefighters who often had to come out to emergency cold weather shelters, where I worked, in the middle of the night to tend to a homeless person who was scared they were losing their mind. Sometimes all they needed was some attention. I'll never forget one Christmas working in the shelter. A firefighter bent down in front of a homeless woman smiling and placed a band-aid on her unwounded eblow just to give her a secret joy.

If we are saying "I value you" when we pay our taxes, what are the people and corporations who don't pay all their taxes saying? Are they saying the opposite? Are they saying that all those people who do so much for us every day don't matter?


Ryssdal: Melissa Chadburn is a writer. She lives here in Los Angeles. Send us your thoughts about taxes or anything else -- write to us.

About the author

Melissa Chadburn is a writer who lives in Los Angeles.
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Dear tdaly001,

I love how you frame it-- that public education, roads, and firefighters are MY services. It's so interesting that the people that are not willing to pay their fair share like to make the people that share in receiving basic needs and recipients of safety nets 'moochers.' Do you not drive on public roads? Send your kids to school? I mean how did you figure that I have paid less than my 'fractional responsibility of a person'? There are large corporations that pay absolutely no money in property taxes in California. That is a huge problem. I paid more in taxes than Google. my my my.
Keep crunching your skewed numbers and looking through those murky glasses... although it's challenging to see clearly through a couple of tea bags.
xoxo
M

With all due respect to you guys at Marketplace ... seriously, based on some of the moronic entries that regularly grace the "comments" section, I think you're reaching a sub-highschool education crowd.

Either that or you're really well listened-to in Alabama and Mississippi.

If I hear (or read) one more untrue statement about 50% of Americans not paying Federal taxes or another stupid platitude about "if you like taxes so much, pay more," I shall scream.

Such comments are neither ingenuous nor accurate... but they most certainly are unworthy of my time or yours and they reflect poorly on the public radio-listening audience.

Dear Deckhand, please check this link. http://taxpolicycenter.org/publications/url.cfm?ID=1001547 it is from the tax policy center which is from the Brookings Institution and the Urban Institute, not exactly paragons of conservative thinking. Lest you think these facts come from those tea party sorts, or folks from the south. The facts are that in 2011, 46% did not pay federal income taxes. They do pay FICA etc, but when it comes to federal income taxes, these facts which you dismiss argumentum ad hominem, cannot be ignored. Everyone should pay a little for the services they receive. The system clearly needs reform. So before you insult folks, check your facts. Facts are friendly!

Unfortunately, conservatives troll articles like this spouting the falsehoods they learned on Fox "News."

I find it ironic this commentary comes out and the next day the GSA is outed for squandering 800,000 dollars on a junket in Las Vegas back in 2010. Including $6400 on commerative coins in direct violation of Presidential directive. I cannot support government agencies that are not good stewards of our tax dollars. Also I have to wonder if you like paying taxes - do you pony up a little extra? There is nothing forces one to take deductions or write-offs. In fact I'm sure plenty of government agencies would be willing to take all of your paycheck. So in lieu of donating to charities do you donate to government agencies?

I'm curious - do people think that equality in paying taxes means that every one pays the same percentage or the same amount? E.g. if one person makes 30,000 and another $30,000,000, should both pay say 20% each, $6,000 and $6,000,000 respectively, or should both pay $6,000? What do readers think?

It is easy to see Melissa's point of view. However, a quick look at spending, taxes and population shows that Melissa is probably getting a large discount on her services. I pulled the data from the IRS, BLS and Chicago Fed and calculated that federal spending per person in 2012 will be ~$11,452.58 or $23,444.61 per labor force participant. Since ~50% of all Americans pay no federal taxes, odds are even that Melissa is getting all these services and all the taxes she paid back for the effort of filing a tax return. To have most of the costs of my growing up being paid by the government and then paying less than my fractional responsibility of a person who did not receive such transfers, I would love that deal too.

The other half, pay on average (and this number swings wildly per person) ~$15,200. Many pay much more. In fact, any labor force participant who pays less than $7,653.84 in federal income taxes is not paying there taxes, and any one who pays more is paying beyond there fractional share. If there were no deficit, each labor force participant would need to pay $23,444.61 to pay there own way.

Finally, that gap between spending and revenue per labor force participant is $7,223.73. This is the bill that you are sending to your kids. Do you love that too?

The purpose of my prior comment was to encourage consideration of the amount one pays in taxes, not just the percentage. We don't charge extra sales tax or road tolls or cable subscription, etc., for those with higher income, and I for one sure am glad he made all that money and paid $3 mil in taxes.
For the record though, I strongly believe that the "carried interest" principle that allows the LT capital gains rate for such investments as Romney and hedge fund managers have, is a huge tax loophole that should be closed. If one has not invested any capital, there should be no capital gains treatment. But that is not Romney's fault. Let's realize the wisdom of the age old statement "put your money where your mouth is." So Chadburn, parte, et al, add some extra to your remittance this yr to prove your point.

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