USA Today: Tax bills in 2009 lowest since 1950

Jim Clyburn’s office made sure I didn’t miss this, and I’m making sure that YOU — especially our Tea Party friends out there — don’t miss it either:

Tax bills in 2009 at lowest level since 1950

By Dennis Cauchon, USA TODAY
Amid complaints about high taxes and calls for a smaller government, Americans paid their lowest level of taxes last year since Harry Truman’s presidency, a USA TODAY analysis of federal data found.

Some conservative political movements such as the “Tea Party” have criticized federal spending as being out of control. While spending is up, taxes have fallen to exceptionally low levels.

Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, the lowest rate since 1950, the Bureau of Economic Analysis reports. That rate is far below the historic average of 12% for the last half-century. The overall tax burden hit bottom in December at 8.8.% of income before rising slightly in the first three months of 2010.

“The idea that taxes are high right now is pretty much nuts,” says Michael Ettlinger, head of economic policy at the liberal Center for American Progress….

Of course, the very next sentence was from the “It is NOT nuts!” crowd:

The real problem is spending,counters Adam Brandon of FreedomWorks, which organizes Tea Party groups. “The money we borrow is going to be paid back through taxation in the future,” he says.

And so forth, yadda-yadda.

By the way, for you boys and girls out there (those who don’t have grandchildren) — the Truman administration was, like, a really long time ago.  You’ve seen “Mad Men”? Well, like that, only like a decade earlier, and the clothes weren’t as sharp looking. In fact, President Truman himself wore bow ties. Which are sharp-looking; don’t get me wrong. Just not “Mad Men” sharp, unless you’re Bert Cooper. And they’re way butch, too — Harry dropped two atom bombs on another country because they messed with us, so don’t get me started on bow ties.

Where was I? Oh, yes. Our taxes were lower in 2009 than at any time since before I was born. So quit yer whining. Especially you, governor.

17 thoughts on “USA Today: Tax bills in 2009 lowest since 1950

  1. Doug Ross

    Where do I sign up for the 9.2% option?

    The total taxes my wife and I pay per year are at least 35% of my income: Income tax (Fed, State), Property Tax (house and three cars), Sales Tax, Gasoline Tax, Fees.

    I made a one day trip to Dallas two weeks ago. The total amount of taxes paid for my hotel, rental car, meals, and airfare was over $100. For ONE DAY.

    The problem is we have too many people paying 0% and too many people paying 30% or more. If everyone had to share in paying for government equally, we’d see a big increase in the Tea Party. When you’re getting a free ride, you don’t complain about the gas mileage of the car.

  2. Brad

    And you read this and thought it was about anything other than FEDERAL taxes why, exactly? You saw it was from USAToday. Broad hint. USAToday doesn’t do state and local. Not their beat.

    It would be great is they HAD a comparison that included state and local — I suspect the comparison would arrive at similar conclusions — but they didn’t.

    And no one pretended that they did…

  3. Doug Ross

    Am I illiterate or are you?

    “Federal, state and local taxes — including income, property, sales and other taxes — consumed 9.2% of all personal income in 2009, ”

    They analyzed federal data covering all taxes.

    Right or wrong?

  4. Doug Ross

    Waiting to see how you spin this one into “what they really meant to say was”….

  5. Doug Ross

    And the article goes on to note that:

    “The BEA classifies Social Security taxes as insurance payments and excludes them from the tax calculation.”

    So that also paints a rosier picture of the tax situation because the government is using Social Security funds for non-Social Security spending.

  6. Doug Ross

    Also, if you read the article, you would see that taxes were lower in 2009 because of the tax cuts that were given to people making under $150K… tax cuts that were not offset with spending cuts… tax cuts that were funded with deficit spending. So we’ll be paying those taxes back some day. Well, SOME of us will.

  7. Bart

    O.K., I am officially confused. What formula was used to determine the 9.2% finding? I have to agree with Doug.

  8. Brad

    Now, back to the subject … it’s all well and good for Clyburn to point out that the tax gripers have nothing to gripe about. But he goes far too far when he boasts “Lower Taxes for Americans Thanks to the Recovery Act.”

    Um, Jim… we’re not happy that we’re SPENDING way more money than we’re TAXING. Not a good thing in the long run. All arguments aside as to whether we HAD to pass the stimulus or not… Let’s say, for sake of argument, that it WAS the right thing to do (as I know you will): It’s still not a good thing that we found ourselves in the situation in which we had to do it. It’s not something to celebrate, or be proud of. All this extra debt is a BAD thing, even if it was a necessary bad thing.

    Just thought maybe I’d better point that out. So, explaining that people who complain that taxes are high are nuts, good. Celebrating that we’re spending more than we’re taxing, not so good.

  9. bud

    It is VERY dishonest to exclude FICA from the tax calculations. That tax has increased dramatically over the years.

    Having said that I would argue that the people who pay the most in taxes also benefit the most. Military spending certainly doesn’t help some poor family in Detroit. (I would argue 90% of it doesn’t help anyone but for the sake of argument let’s just assume it does help prevent another terrorist attack). Doug’s example illustrates this perfectly. Why should a poor family pay for Doug’s trip to Texas? Sorry Doug, you get way more out of your tax dollar than a poor person.

  10. Bart

    If I were a skeptic, and I say if, based on the timing of the comment and considering the simple fact that with all of the programs being introduced, at some point, taxes must and will be raised. If the programs are to be funded, the money will have to come from someone, somewhere. The question is, from who and where? Simple answer, you and I. The groundwork is being laid. Depending upon how the elections go in November, between the elections and swearing in of new members of congress, expect an answer.

  11. Michael P.

    Lower taxes collected… higher unemployment… I sense that there’s a pattern developing here.

    Mr. Obvious

  12. Doug Ross

    Wow, Bud… I’d love to get some data on how paying 35% of my income for taxes helps me more than someone who pays 9.2%. I get the same roads, same schools, same libraries, same everything that the 9.2% guy gets except I don’t get any food stamps, unemployment, subsidized college tuition for my kids. Your military example makes zero sense. I don’t need any more protection from phantom terrorists than you do.

    I’m not a Tea Party guy — I wouldn’t be associated with any group that claims doofus Sarah Palin as a leader — but I can see where the “anger” comes from when you look at that 9.2% number. It’s very likely that the majority of Tea Party members fall into that middle income category that gets hit the hardest by taxes and doesn’t see value for their tax dollars. Hard working people who now toil for the government essentially for two days each week might have a reason to wonder why that’s so.

    The rich can avoid taxes or pay a much smaller percentage while the poor avoid taxes and reap more benefits.

  13. bud

    What does a working class stiff have to lose if we are suddenly taken over by some foreign power? Heck they might even benefit. The power brokers on Wall Street and the corporate CEOs benefit from our current system that rewards greed over any real contribution to society. They are the big winners in our economic system. Heck the courts, military, various transportation networks all favor the wealthy. When was the last time some poor shlub from the ghetto flew in a plane subsidized by the taxpayers? How often does a poor guy get to sleep in a plush hotel made possible by some federal grant for downtown development? I would maintain that most of the wealthy in this country are wealthy largely because of hidden transfer payments from the working class to the rich. Just look at how the super rich live. Any millionare who whines about the tax code really should be ashamed of themselves. They have it pretty damn good.

  14. Steve Gordy

    Bud, I think you’re being unfair by talking in terms which must be considered hypothetical as to Doug’s wealth. I suspect he works hard for the money. There is a legitimate point though: Ask yourself, Would I rather live here (taxes and all) or somewhere else?

  15. Kathryn Fenner

    @bud–don’t forget tax friendly stock options and Cadillac benefits for executives, all those wonderful deductions–some of this is why we have the alternative minimum tax, but…

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