Thursday, April 15, 2010

Who's Really Taxed Enough Already

April 15 – Tax Day – has become a day of protest. A new report from the California Budget Project shows exactly which taxpayers in California are entitled to gripe the most. And, it’s probably not who you think.

According to the report, when measured as a share of family income, the poorest of Californians pay the most in taxes. The lowest 20% of non-elderly wage earners with an average annual income of $13,200 pay 11.1% of their income in taxes. By comparison, the wealthiest 1%, with an average income of $2.2 million per year, pays only 7.8% of their income in taxes.

And, to make matters worse, out of nearly 650,000 Californians with an average annual income of over $200,000, 2,044 of them paid no state income taxes. This number has more than tripled since 1997.

Despite the shrill protestations being made today by Tea Party members that Californians are taxed more than any people on earth, the findings of the report prove the opposite. California is 21st among the 50 states in tax burden. That’s right—we are smack in the middle of the 50 states in terms of state taxes as a percentage of personal income. But some never let the facts get in the way of making their argument.

Finally, the report observes that over the past 20 years, California has shifted from reliance upon corporate income taxes to personal income taxes. This year, 53.2% of the state’s General Fund – which pays for core state services like public education, health care, and public safety – will come from personal income taxes, compared to only 35.4% in 1980-81.

One might think that all Californians are paying their fair share during this economic crisis where fairness demands shared sacrifice. One would be wrong.

The people who should be protesting today can’t afford to because they are at work today.