I would never purposely lie to you. Use hyperbole, cynicism, sarcasm? Absolutely! Deceit is not my style. The fact of the matter is Iíve studied taxes, as a pastime and profession for most of my adult life. From Josephís 20% tax on the Egyptians, to the modern U.S. code is a fascinating study.
The premise here is misguided and ill-informed.
We have to take a step back and ask the question, ďDoes the U.S. Federal government have a progressive tax system?Ē The answer is Yes and No. Itís a trick question in that there isnít just one tax system in place. As has been pointed out, there are all kinds of taxes imposed, Income, FICA, Medicare, Fuel, Excise, AMT, and it goes on and on. Heck look at any of your bills as they come in. Cell phone, electric, natural gas, et al have taxes on them. My pet peeves are sales taxes and tolls. I hate them. In looking at these types of taxes some are structured to be progressive, some are not.
If you are trying to determine a personís tax burden overall (federal, state, local) as a percentage of income, welcome. Iíve tried on more than one occasion to determine that exact thing for my own situation. It makes one very irritated and scream, ďIím taxed enough already.Ē Thatís pretty catchy phrase. Someone should start a movement and use that as a slogan. On the other hand the opposition would just twist it into something perverted. Thatís what passes for political debate these days.
The income tax system in and of itself is an attempt at a progressive system. Most of the others are not. The FICA and Medicare systems are HUGELY regressive piles of excrement, and have been that way since inception. It was sold to the public as insurance systems that wage earners pay into and will receive a benefit later. Who pays? Wage earners. Only wage earners. 77 years later, now itís not fair? Any reform to these systems has always been met with political scare tactics, as if the ones suggesting reform wanted to starve old people, and take away Grandmaís pension. Again what passes for political debate.
My input here is limited to pointing out, that when trying to determine the fairness of it all, you need to compare like things. The math rule, ďto compare or combine it must be the same kindĒ comes to mind. So taking WATUís fictional California school teacherís marginal rates of three different tax classifications, not considering any deductions/exemptions etc. and comparing that to a real personís effective rate is meaningless.
By including the payroll tax (FICA, Medicare, Social Security whatever term you want to use for that) in the comparison to others income and capital gain rates, you in effect are saying that capital gains should be subject to social security tax. That makes no sense at all. Saying that one person isnít subject to one kind of tax so they need to pay more of another kind of tax in the interest of fairness? Really??? No, itís just jealousy, or political pandering. But thatís what passes for political debate.