About Me

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Jim Killebrew has 40 years of clinical psychological work for people with intellectual disabilities, and experience teaching, administration, consulting, writing with multiple publications. Dr. Killebrew has attended four Universities and received advanced degrees. Southern Illinois University; Ph.D., Educational Psychology; University of Illinois at Springfield, Counseling Education; M.A., Human Development Counseling; Northeastern Oklahoma State University, B.A., Psychology and Sociology. Dr. Killebrew attended Lincoln Christian Seminary (Now Lincoln Christian University). Writing contributions have been accepted and published in several journals: Hospital & Community Psychiatry, The Lookout, and Christian Standard (multiple articles). He may be reached at Killebrewjb@aol.com.

Welcome to my Opinion Pages

Thanks for stopping by and reading some of my thoughts. I hope you will find an enjoyable adventure here on my pages.

The articles are only my opinion and are never meant to hurt anyone nor to downgrade any other person's ideas or opinions.

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Sunday, November 6, 2011

Taxes and the rich

There is a lot of conversation today on talk radio, network and cable news programs that tout the premise that the "rich" are not paying their "fair share" in taxes.  Many in political power are suggesting that people who are the "richest among" us are getting a pass when it comes to paying taxes.  Some who are in the class of "Billionaires" are even reporting that they pay less tax than the secretaries who work for them.

For that group of people whose "net" worth is counted in the millions and billions it is likely true in most cases they pay less percentage in taxes.  Here is the reason why:  When a person accumulates that much wealth s/he generally has assets that are diversified over a wide range of investments and ownerships that are capable of producing money.  In such cases the individual is able to declare no income at all and therefore not pay any "income" tax.  Since their wealth is so high, the accumulation of money comes in the form of dividends or "gains" on their capital, or capital gains. 

For example if a billionaire or millionaire had five million dollars setting in an account that produced only 4% interest over the year, that money would yield about $280,000.00 in a year.  That $280,000.00 would be counted as capital gains and the percentage of tax that would be owed would be around 15% to 17% of that gross gain.  On the other hand, if a small business owner, say a plumber or contractor was able to make that same amount of money during the same year, and only $50,000.00 of it was counted as income for the plumber or contractor, after payroll for the employees and all other expenses of the business were paid, the "income" of $50,000.00 would require a greater percentage in the tax bracket of income to be paid in the form of income tax than the same $280,000.00 the millionaire made through capital gains.  This is a function of the tax code.

When we hear politicians telling us that the millionaire paid less in taxes than the plumber or contractor, they are saying words that are inflaming to a less rich person's ears, but the words are not entirely true.  The millionaire who accumulated $280,000.00 in capital gains would pay tax at 15%, or $57,000.00.  The plumber who grossed $280,000.00 and claimed $50,000.00 in personal income would only pay $16,800.00 in income tax, but at an income tax bracket set at 24%.   

For the capital gains revenue the taxes are at a steady, flat rate and not progressive like the ordinary income taxes are.  When we talk about "tax brackets" we are talking about levels of adjusted gross income that is represented in tax tables that start at the lowest levels and move to the highest levels.  Hence, for persons who are not rich and earn only a salary of $40,000.00 would be in a tax bracket, or level that is lower than a person who makes $95,000.00 per year.  Therefore, even by taxing the richest among us, those whose salaries are much lower will continue to pay more taxes under our current system.

This type of rhetoric being spouted by the media and politicians is causing a war against the socioeconomic classes.  The lower socioeconomic classes are being purposely pitted against the higher socioeconomic classes.  What we are missing in the argument is truthfulness in what will actually happen if the so-called rich are taxed in such a way as to dismantle their structure of capital assets.  There is a lack of genuineness from the politicians explaining who the rich really are.

The class warfare that currently exists in our society is destined to squeeze out the so-called "middle class" because in the final analysis they are the ones who will likely suffer the most by placing pressure on the wealthy. 

We have been told that eighty (80) percent of our wealth in the United States is generated by small businesses.  Those people are the ones who are the plumbers, contractors, dentists, doctors working in clinics, consultants, truck owners driving their own rigs, barbers and beauticians who own their own shop and employ others, restaurant owners, dress shops, cleaners, trash haulers, and the list goes on and on.  These are the people who take risks to start their business, pump their capital into the business, employ people and pay salaries, keep investing in their business with any extra money that is earned, and deliver the services and goods in an economy that grows with the demands created by the needs of the people.

When a line is drawn at some ceiling level by any politician from the government to take more money through taxes as the individual crosses that line, the earning power is reduced, people lose jobs and less, not more, taxes are collected.  Let me give an example to illustrate the point.         

Many years ago when I was attending Alice Robertson Jr. High School in Muskogee, I started working at Weddle's Grocery store on Chestnut street. I worked in the Weddle store on East Side Boulevard and the one at Grandview. One of the things I learned from that experience was that in order to have a job I needed to seek out those who had the jobs available. Mr. Weddle was kind enough to give me a job and agreed to pay me to sack groceries and stock shelves.

The owner of that store took all the risks of opening a store in Muskogee. He invested his resources, time and energy in establishing a service to the people of Muskogee. He was never given a promise from anyone that he would do well and make it in the grocery business. He risked what he had to provide those services and by doing so he hired many others in Muskogee to work for him and help him grow his business.

Was he richer than me? Of course he was; did he risk much more than me? Of course he did. But he shared his wealth by giving me and many others a job to make a living, or in my case, have spending money all through high school.

I don't know a thing about what he or any other owner of businesses at that time paid in taxes. I do know that they spent a lot of money on payroll. With the money I made working in my job, and the money many others made working in their jobs that he provided, paid our fair share of taxes that would not have been paid without his having first given us the job with the ability to make our own salaries.

Through the years I have never worked for a "poor" person who did not have the resources to pay my salary. But I have never thought less of a person who has risked much in order to give me a job. When the person who invests in their business, grows that business, continues to hire more people to help with that business, but makes money in the process, I believe it is that owner's right to not only make as much as s/he can, but keep as much as possible too.

For some reason the liberal political focus concentrated in the Democrat Party now days is to demonize the people who are "wealthy" and demand they pay "their fair share" in more and more taxes. If the government should finally take from them more than they can possible afford, and it begins to reverse the growth of their business, and people are laid off because of it, will those increased amounts taken from the "rich" in taxes offset the loss of taxes from the amount of money that would have been paid by their laid-off employees if they were still working?

Jim Killebrew

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