For almost a century since the federal income tax was created, most Americans could unite in lamenting the blackest day on the calendar: April 15 — tax day — the traditional deadline for ponying up to the federal leviathan.
For an increasing — and alarming — number of Americans, however, April 15 might as well be a national holiday. According to the left-leaning Tax Policy Center, a record 47 percent of households will pay no federal income tax for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability.
In fact, the bottom 40 percent of income earners actually profit from the federal income tax system, meaning they get more money in tax credits than they otherwise would owe in taxes. Such people receive a government payment. For them, tax day is pay day.
Among the “nonpayers” are numerous middle class families making $50,000 annually. Tax Foundation President Scott Hodge notes that “nonpaying status used to be a sure sign of poverty, but thanks to increased use of the tax code to deliver social benefits, incentivize behaviors and funnel money to targeted groups, middle-class families now have been pulled into the growing pool of nonpayers.”
And so you have the ominous rise of Moocher Nation, which is exempt from paying for federal programs — national defense, public safety, infrastructure and education among them — that benefit everyone. This is the predictable result of a longstanding effort by nanny-state paternalists and vote trollers to use the federal tax system to reward favored constituencies.
Defenders — most of them Democrats — of this divide-and-conquer tax policy argue that it ensures everyone, particularly the hated rich, “pays their fair share.” Of course, only the ruling class is capable of determining what’s fair. Today, it’s “fair” that the top 10 percent of earners pay 73 percent of all federal income taxes. Next year, fairness might demand even more from the country’s most productive citizens.
Such statistics suggest it’s long past time to inject some honesty into the debate over whether the nation’s tax burden is fairly distributed. Clearly, it is not if we enable a majority of Americans — the new Moocher Nation — to vote themselves a larger share of their neighbors’ income. The once widely accepted idea that tax policy should be neutral — that is, it should not favor certain groups of people or other special interests — has all but disappeared in the United States.
Used as a cudgel by the ruling class, the tax system now increasingly punishes people for being successful, while creating a new class of voter dependent on the doting Party of Entitlement. No sane nation would continue such a practice in the belief that it somehow is a sustainable and equitable path to widespread prosperity.
Read more on the Outlook and Perspective pages of CSI's Walworth County Sunday e-edition on pages 8A and 9A. and add your comments below.