Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

“Fair Share”

It’s a great sound bite: “The [wealthy/corporations/etc.] should pay their fair share.” Who can argue with that? Particularly if the group who are implied to be not paying their fair share are someone (or something) that isn’t “us.”

So this coming Monday, we’ll explore this concept, in particular with regard to taxation and similar financial policies.

Here are some starter questions to consider:

  • What is the “fair share” for the wealthy (let’s say the top 1% of the population)?
    • Should this be measured by income? By wealth? By a combination of both?
  • What is the corresponding “fair share” for middle- and lower-income families?
  • Should fairness of share be measured in individual components (federal income tax, state and local income tax, local property tax, Medicare tax, Social Security tax, unemployment tax, state and local sales tax, excise tax, gasoline tax, etc. etc. etc.)?
    • Or should fairness be considered more holistically, either combining all of these contributions into a single bucket or several big buckets (federal, state, local)? Or something else?
  • Are income tax rates too low? Are there too many deductions and credits? Are they not sufficiently progressive?
  • If we were to adopt ProPublica’s “true tax rate” (which includes annual increase in wealth in “income”—see link below), shouldn’t it be a two-way adjustment (i.e., tax refunds for decreases in wealth)?

I think it would be interesting to play “king for a day:” If you could singlehandedly change the way Americans contribute (financially) to support the services provided by federal, state, and local governments, what would you do?

Here are some resources:

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