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Get off backs of the rich

I could tell by the title that Molly Ivins’ column last week, “Rich get tax breaks, poor get even poorer,” was going to be yet another tired diatribe based on the false assumption that the poor pay all the taxes and the rich don’t pay their fair share. This is a false assumption, because the facts, based on official IRS data which cover the years 1997-1999, clearly show that the opposite is true.

For this period, the taxpayers whose Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) was less than $22,000 represented 45 percent of the population, earned 10 percent of the total reported income, and paid 3 percent of the total taxes paid. An average tax rate of 4.3 percent of their AGI. Simply put, about half of our population paid 3 percent of the total taxes collected.



Conversely, if you look at the group of people whose AGI was $50,000 and up, they represented only 25 percent of the population, earned 67 percent of the total AGI, and paid 83 percent of the total taxes paid.




If you’re interested in the “very rich” segment of our population, the people whose AGI was over $1,000,000, they represented only .4 percent of the population, earned 10 percent of the total income, and paid 19 percent of the total taxes paid. Their average tax rate was 28 percent of AGI.

Do most of the tax changes affect the “rich”? Sure they do. They pay most of the taxes and most of the laws apply to them. How can you affect a 4 percent tax rate much?

There’s no doubt that there are a significant number of people in this country who need and should get help. The solution to that problem, however, is not in increasing taxes to the 25 percent of our population that pay 83 percent of the taxes.

The rich are, in fact, the best friends the poor have. They work hard, earn money and pay a disproportionate amount of taxes. All they ask is for people like Ms. Ivins get off their backs and quit complaining they’re not paying enough!

Ron Avanzino

Penn Valley


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