In Their Own Words: McCain v. Obama on Taxes

In Their Own Words: McCain v. Obama on Taxes

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Listen to Republican candidate for President, John McCain, talk about taxes:

Listen to Democrat candidate for President, Barack Obama, talk about taxes:

What do you think? I would love to hear your answers to the following questions:

  1. How do you define “rich?”
  2. Is imposing higher taxes on “rich” people “punishing success?”
  3. Do “rich” people have a civic duty to help the middle class and the poor?
About Peter Pappas

Peter is a tax attorney and certified public acccountant with over 20 years experience helping taxpayers resolve their IRS and state tax problems.

He has represented thousands of taxpayers who have been experiencing difficulty dealing with the Internal Revenue Service or State tax officials.

He is a member of the American Association of Attorney-Certified Public Accountants, the Florida Bar Association and The Florida Institute of Certified Public Accountants and is admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court, the United States Supreme Court, U.S. District Courts - Middle District of Florida

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  1. Pete-

    Ok – you asked for it!

    1. How do you define “rich?”

    Rich in terms of a dollar amount is different in different parts of the country. A couple in one part of the country could truly live like royalty on what a couple in another part of the country (especially where I live in the Northeast) needs to just keep their heads above water. Unfortunately the Tax Code uses one set of numbers for the entire country – and unfortunately I cannot offhand think of an easy way to correct this inequity. The result is that those in New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts, Connecticut, California, and similar areas end up being royally screwed.

    2. Is imposing higher taxes on “rich” people “punishing success?”

    I personally do not believe in a “progressive” tax system, where individuals with higher income pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes.

    An argument can be made that the more money a person makes the more he needs and benefits from the services and protections of the government – so a person who makes more should pay more taxes. If there were a flat tax then a person making $250,000 would obviously pay more than a person making $25,000 – although not proportionally so.

    The truth is that in many cases the lower one’s income the more benefits, services and protections one receives from the government.

    I do not believe that the Tax Code should be used to “redistribute” wealth or aide in providing “welfare” to lower income individuals. The purpose of the income tax is to raise the money necessary to run the government – period. While the Code can encourage certain positive activities such as saving and investment, higher education, charitable contribution and volunteer work, home ownership, etc – all things that benefit society in general – it should not be used for “social engineering”.

    I strongly believe that the current Tax Code creates too many “tax non-payers” and have called for a true “minimum tax” whereby every individual of a certain age with income pays at least, say, $100.00 in federal income tax.

    3. Do “rich” people have a civic duty to help the middle class and the poor?

    The government may have a responsibility to help the middle class and the poor, but I do not believe the so-called “rich” have a civic duty to do anything other than treat their employees fairly, honestly and equally. Obviously the wealthy should not be allowed to improperly build their wealth on the backs of the working class – but that is where the “duty” ends.

    While there may be a moral or ethical “duty” for an individual to be “charitable” it is not one that should be imposed by government.

    When I have more time perhaps I will expand on the above in a blog post.


  2. Robert,

    Thanks for the thoughtful comment. I can see both sides of the argument.

    I believe those with more should help those with less, but I’m just not sure they should be forced to do so.

    I say we should promote private charity and make it easier for those who have already demonstrated the ability (and the ambition) to create wealth and thereby create jobs by reducing their tax burden.