One of the most important things we all can do as individuals is to research the facts so that we can vote as informed citizens. I very much appreciate Tom Cantlon's columns because he stresses that point. He is a journalist who reports with a broad scope and provides the references so you can read the source material of his comments. As he emphasized in his Feb. 16 column, we all need to read or listen to multiple sources to get a fairer picture of the issues.
The use of selective facts to make emotional statements is all too common. The point has been made in letters to the editor that the top earners pay the majority of the taxes and the bottom earners therefore are milking the system. For example, it was stated correctly that in 2009 the top 10 percent of taxpayers paid 70.5 percent of the taxes and the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers provided just 2.3 percent of tax revenue. That is not the whole story, though. To try to understand why that is, we have to know what their Adjusted Gross Incomes (AGIs) were. The top 10 percent had AGIs above $112,124 and paid an average tax rate of 18 percent. The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers had incomes below $32,400 (the average income was $15,300) and the average tax rate was 1.85 percent. The bottom 50 percent incomes are so low the standard deductions, exemptions and tax credits have a much bigger impact that lowers their taxes on a far greater percentage basis than someone making hundreds of thousands of dollars. To be fair that is an important part of the picture to understand. You can find this information on taxfoundation.org.
Tax reform will certainly be complicated. Tax revenues may well have to be raised to balance the budget, but we'll need to have a civil discussion to get tax reform accomplished. The simplistic fixes being touted only make sense if one doesn't consider all the facts. We all need to look closer at what is being promoted.