Up & Coming Weekly

June 15, 2021

Up and Coming Weekly is a weekly publication in Fayetteville, NC and Fort Bragg, NC area offering local news, views, arts, entertainment and community event and business information.

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Page 5 of 24

WWW.UPANDCOMINGWEEKLY.COM JUNE 16-22, 2021 UCW 5 OPINION MARGARET DICKSON, Columnist. COMMENTS? Editor@ upandcomingweekly.com. 910-484-6200. No one — I repeat, no one, enjoys paying taxes. I can almost feel my blood pressure rise when income taxes come due. at said, we all want safe and ac- cessible roads, high quality public education for our young people, and the same quality health care for Americans of all backgrounds and ages. e reality is that our taxes support those goals. e ongoing American myth has been that we all pay our fair share, like it or not, and that wealthy individuals pay more. ProPublica exploded that myth last week as part of its ongoing analysis of our tax system. e non-profit investigative journalism organization which exposes abuses of power and betrayals of the public trust released secretly obtained IRS documents confirm- ing what millions of Americans have long suspected. e richest of the rich are not paying their fair share of income taxes at all, much less more than the rest of us. In fact, several of the 25 wealthiest Americans as defined by Forbes magazine managed to pay no income taxes at all! ese include such household names as Jeff Bezos (Amazon), Elon Musk (Tesla), Bill Gates (Microsoft), and the grandfatherly Warren Buffet (all manner of investments), all of whom have more money than they could ever spend. Moral considerations aside, there are no allega- tions that any of these people did anything illegal by paying a miniscule percentage of their wealth in income taxes or none at all. ey simply took ad- vantage of existing federal and state laws that treat "wealth" differently than "income." Mere mortals earning a paycheck from which taxes are deducted cannot take advantage of these laws, which gener- ally require the services of high-dollar attorneys and accountants to navigate. Here is the situation. e average American has an income of roughly $70,000 and pays income taxes of about 14-percent, usually deducted by the em- ployer. e wealthiest Americans do not earn much in salaries. Instead, they make money on their assets — dividends on stocks, for example, and their tax bills come due when they sell assets. ey are also able to take offsetting losses on their investments, thereby lowering their earnings, in some cases, to zero. According to ProPublica, while Joe Blow pays 14-percent on his salaried income, the 25 richest Americans paid a true tax rate of only 3.4-percent on what they took in between 2014 and 2018. Is this legal? Yes. Is it fair? Most Americans do not think so. e wealth gap in our country, often referred to as wealth inequity, has grown significantly in recent decades. It has become not only a starkly divisive issue among Americans across the wealth spectrum but a political issue. Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren and other leftish political figures have raised the issue in public debate, and they are right to do so. Congress is beginning to talk about tax code reform, albeit tentatively, and President Biden is cheering on that conversation. In a democratic republic, fairness is the underly- ing concept. Our system will work only as long as we believe it is fair. We all want to believe that we will be treated fairly by our legal system. We all want to believe that we have access to quality health care and that our children will be able to get educations that will make them productive adults. We all want to believe that we have a shot at upward mobility. It is sometimes hard to believe any of that. Paying taxes is a necessary reality. Most of us rec- ognize that and are willing to pay our fair share, but we want everyone else to do so as well. We do not want to feel like schmucks as asset-heavy folks zoom past us in their Teslas. Are you mad yet? by MARGARET DICKSON All Concerts held at the pavilion located at Gates Four Golf & Country CLub 6775 Irongate Dr, Fayetteville, NC 28306

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