LETTER TO THE EDITOR: Goldberg doesn’t paint the whole picture on taxing the wealthy

Jonah Goldberg’s column on taxing the rich, which appeared on April 17, grossly distorts the tax picture inasmuch as it addresses only income taxes.

A comprehensive took at taxes and income might readily paint a very different picture from that which he describes. He has ignored most sources of taxes that afflict the poor far more than they affect the rich. These include the payroll taxes which he mentions in passing, i.e., social security (FICA) and medicare taxes. But they also include sales taxes, gasoline taxes, property taxes (whether directly on homes owned by individuals or indirectly when they are included in rental costs), and excise taxes on vehicles (this listing is not exhaustive).

A look at income should not be restricted to adjusted gross income that shows up on one’s Form 1040 annually. It should also include the full load of capital gains (from stocks and bonds, sale of real estate, increase in the value of businesses, and many other sources that are not easily evaluated). Income should include the full load of dividends. It should include stock options and other forms of deferred compensation that fill the coffers of the wealthy. And it should include income hidden off-shore or in other tax dodging schemes.

The inclusion of all forms of income, interpreted as an increase in one’s wealth, should then be compared to the total taxes paid an individual in order to get a complete picture of taxation.

Much of the data on income would be hard to dig up on the very wealthy, so it is doubtful that a valid comparison could ever be made. I certainly do not pretend to have this information. Nevertheless, before I drink Mr. Goldberg’s “Kool-Aid” on taxes, I rely on the incontrovertible fact that the gap between the very wealthy and the ordinary worker has increased wildly in the last few decades to convince me that the wealthy are not carrying their share of the overall tax load.

– John Lutz,