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Friday, July 22, 2005

Lower Taxes Anyway You Slice It

I know that we have been technical in the blog lately, but I am sorry; I have to continue with it. The only reason is that this piece of information I am about to share with you, is so important, it makes or breaks many people’s perception of the FairTax.

Many opponents of the FairTax argue that volunteers of the Americans for Fair Taxation and many proponents of the H.R. 25 plan are liars. This just is not true. The opposition claims that the 23% sales tax rate is actually a 30% rate in disguise. While, the H.R. 25 FairTax plan will charge 30% at the register, I argue that this is not deception.

Let us define some terms here: Sales taxes are typically quoted as a tax-exclusive rate and income taxes are normally quoted as tax-inclusive. Tax-exclusive is defined as what the rate is after you paid for an item. Such as, you go to the register to pay for a $100 item, but the total comes to $107. The 7% sales tax was excluded from the price until you had to pay for it. Although 7% on the $100 item is $7.00 – that same $7.00 is 6.54% of $107.

Tax-inclusive is defined as what the rate is, inside the total amount (gross pay). Assume you bring home a $1,000 paycheck, but really only get $800 take-home pay. The 20% was calculated on your gross pay of $1,000 – not the $800 that you actually have to spend. That same 20% within all of your pay, would be 25% on your take-home pay.

This can make a huge difference in what rates that are quoted. Everybody is used to the old (current) way of doing things: income taxes that are taken out of our paycheck. The advocates for the FairTax are trying to compare apples to apples when they are quoting 23%. A 23% tax-inclusive sales tax is comparable to a 23% tax-inclusive income tax in this case.

It would be fine and rather true to quote the FairTax rate as a 30% rate. However, what does that say in your mind? As an example, to someone who is in the 28% marginal income tax bracket, this would seem like a bad deal. Not so, just by comparing these simple rates, alone, the FairTax is actually a better deal. Because, if you compare your income tax rate as a tax-exclusive rate similar to the 30% sales tax, the rate is 28% marginal rate is actually 38.89%. In addition, the 38.89% does not even include the payroll taxes (Social Security and Medicare) that are taken out of the paycheck. For this income bracket, that rate would be an additional 4.67% (tax-exclusive). Tack on the other 4.67% that your employer is paying to the government (instead of giving you a raise). Oh, and don’t forget about that 28.21% (tax-exclusive) in average embedded corporate taxes and compliance costs. Voila: 76.44%! No, ladies and gentlemen, this absolutely is not an exaggeration. Believe it, because it is true: some of us pay 76% to the government. With the FairTax, that 76.44% will be reduced to 30% (At the VERY MAXIMUM).

Here’s a breakdown of the marginal tax rates for the current income tax compared to the 30% FairTax rate:

7.65% payroll taxes = 8.28% plus another 8.28% that your employer pays
10% = 11.11%
15% = 17.65%
23% = 30.00%
25% = 33.33%
28% = 38.89%
33% = 49.25%
35% = 53.85%

So, what it all boils down to, for all of the Conspiracy Theorists, is that you can say that the rate is 23% compared to the tax rate that you pay now in the current system (tax divided by net pay). On the other hand, you can list all the higher tax-exclusive income tax rates and compare them to the 30% that you want to quote.

There is also one minor thing in this. When the FairTax is enacted, purchasers will not have to calculate an item based upon its retail price plus the tax. They will want to know the whole price at the register. Nobody will have to figure out what the tax is on that $7.21 item. They will go to the register already seeing on the price tag, a price of $9.37. The 23% tax equals $2.16 divided by $9.37. Since $9.37 will be on the price tag, wouldn’t the 23% rate be the relevant rate anyway.

What it all boils down to is that if you disagree with the FairTax, it is not due to a deceptive tax rate. It is something else, so mention that, but not the rate.

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