Lower Taxes For Women?

In the United States, work is literally more rewarding for men than women. Men earn more -- the gap between wages paid women who perform the same job as men is stuck at roughly 77 cents to the dollar. Additionally, the so-called marriage tax penalizes second earners, usually women.

Not surprisingly, women (in general) cease working at rates far greater than men, especially once we have children. In economic terms, women's elasticity of labor supply is higher than men's in the United States. Several reasons drive this behavior, the primary ones being lack of affordable, high-quality childcare and the fact that women earn significantly less than men do. The free labor market has failed to correct these inequities, although women have had access to the workforce in large numbers for over four decades.

The solution to these gender-based labor inequities could be simple, according to new research, Gender Based Taxation, by Alberto Alesina of Harvard University and Andrea Ichino of the University of Bologna. In order to encourage women to work, and to even out the stubborn gender-based pay gap, these two economists suggest taxing every woman's earnings at a significantly lesser rate than men -- roughly 79% of men's tax rates.

The economists argue that in a capitalist country like the U.S., a tax-based solution is more practical than socialist programs that have been effective in countries such as France and Sweden, where the government provides subsidized child care and parental leaves that encourage women to remain in the paid workforce after having children. Hypothetically, there is no loss to the government because even with a lower tax rate for women, the IRS would continue to bring in approximately the same tax revenue, the researchers say, because the increase in the number of women working -- and therefore paying taxes --would offset the lower taxes women owe. Corporations would benefit as well because women would be more motivated to work without companies having to pay them higher wages. Men don't have to pay more in taxes, so this policy doesn't hurt them.

Great idea. With the increased take-home pay, women could afford better child care. We would enjoy greater financial stability,whether we're married or not. Good for women, good for kids, good for the economy -- maybe there's a chance this idea will hit pay dirt.

By Leslie Morgan Steiner |  May 7, 2007; 7:05 AM ET  | Category:  You Go Girl!
Previous: I Am Woman, Hair Me Roar | Next: Maternity Leave -- What's Fair?


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First!

Posted by: moxiemom | May 7, 2007 7:19 AM

Oh, please. I am so tired of people assuming that a tax cut can solve all of our country's ills. Can we get a little bit - even a tiny tiny bit - of nuance in our discussions in this country yet? Why are so many people stuck on this one-solution-fits-all-problems?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 7:31 AM

I think that anything that encourages women to choose greed over motherhood / nurturing children would be a bad thing.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 7, 2007 7:38 AM

If one of the purposes is affordable child care then single dads will be left out.
I see this as a slippery slope backwards as some people will think that because women pay less in taxes that they deserve less.

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 7, 2007 7:38 AM

Since not having enough hours in the day is also a challenge for working moms, how about raising the speed limit for women? Cars with pink license plates could be allowed to drive 10 mph faster.

Posted by: Robert in Austin | May 7, 2007 7:39 AM

Talk about a "solution" that smacks of gender discrimination! This is a blatant case!

Taxations should be "blind", its only purpose to raise revenues.

Social programs should be identified as such, not hidden away in revenue bills!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 7:40 AM

One big problem with this: The wage differential could then become even more entrenched, being virtually justified by the change in tax law.

Posted by: Groggie | May 7, 2007 7:42 AM

So now there's a good reason to institutionalize sexism (??!!!) and ignore the real needs of FAMILIES (which by the way, include fathers - even single fathers).

Dumbest idea so far.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 7:55 AM

Just thinking about a logical outcome to all of this. For a family unit, if a woman were taxed 20% less than a man, men might abandon their high paying jobs in droves, causing a massive shift in traditional gender roles. The man would become the "stay at home." Women would have all the benefits of the high paying, high pressure jobs. Where do I sign up?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 8:05 AM

How would this apply to transexuals?

Substitute African-Americans, or Episcopals, or left-handed citizens for the word women. Re-read to see how silly this sounds.

Isn't there a constant conservative movement to simplify the tax code?

Posted by: Bryn Mawr | May 7, 2007 8:07 AM

The Raleigh N&O had an article about this over the weekend, though it discussed paying for the tax cut in part by raising tax rates on men.

Seems to me that this is an idea that would backfire spectacularly. We've already seen how some men react when we try to give women an equal piece of the pie (Title VII, anyone?). Imagine the outcry when a program actually discriminates in favor of women.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 7, 2007 8:09 AM

Not sure this is a good idea, that it would work, or that it wouldn't be counterproductive, but if anything, it's interesting. I haven't heard this idea before, and at least someone is exploring options outside the same-old, same-old.

Posted by: lawgirl | May 7, 2007 8:11 AM

Sure--the way to equality is yet another program that is unequal in its design. Sigh...can't we figure this out without constantly giving extra rights to groups? Somehow we need special laws for minorities and gays and women--when, last I checked, the Constitution applied to everyone. How is the crime of murder worse if it is motivated by hate of blacks, women or gays? Isn't it inherent in the crime of murder that you didn't like the other person--for whatever reason?

I wish women would do me a favor and stop asking for extras and consideration and understanding. Every time they do, it sets women back another twenty years. You can make all the laws you want but until you find a way to monitor thoughts there will always be room for some form of discrimination...

how long until we have laws prohibiting personality discrimination? We didn't hire him because he was rude and obnoxious--I can see it now; the lawsuit will detail the years of institutionalized discrimination against mean people.

Time to get on with it. Go to work, stay home--make whatever set of choices as is your right...but...the world will always be inherently unfair in some way and maybe it would be easier if we just faced up to that instead of trying to make laws that make excuses for us

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 7, 2007 8:12 AM

From above:
the increase in the number of women working -- and therefore paying taxes --would offset the lower taxes women owe.

Last week's job statistics showed only 88,000 new jobs created. 150,000 jobs are needed for frictional unemployment, just to keep pace with new workers.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 8:12 AM

Two economist are walking through the woods when they fall into a very deep hole. They have no rope, shovels, cell phones or other implements that might aid their escape from this pit.

The one economist looks at the other and says "What can we do? How can we get out of here?"

The second economist says, "First let's assume a ladder."

(This joke is germane to today's article.)

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 8:13 AM

Oh, please tell me you're not serious! The absolute last thing we women should want or need is something that smacks of a handout - especially one that supports and legitimizes the wage differential.

I know firsthand of the wage differential and am doing my part to combat it. It's not easy and I'm paying a big price. But two wrongs don't make a right, and tax laws based on gender is a major wrong.

Posted by: AB | May 7, 2007 8:22 AM

If y'all want to practice your jumping, I'll be available around noon.

Posted by: Hammerhead | May 7, 2007 8:30 AM

BAD idea. While I can't foresee all the unintended consequences, consider these:

Under this scheme, women will pay less in taxes. Corporations will then pay women less, and justify their decision by pointing out that a woman's take-home pay is still the same, so she's not losing any money.

While women will be be offered better positions because of the downward pressure on wages, that pressure damages the economy as a whole.

There will be legal justification for gender-based pay scales, work rules, and so on.

I don't see the pay gap narrowing as a result; I see it widening or, at best, remaining static.

Isn't this exactly what we fought to eliminate 30 years ago?!?!

And why on earth do we keep trying to solve ALL our societal problems with tax cuts??

Posted by: educmom | May 7, 2007 8:30 AM

Ok, one minor problem with this theory: current Republican party is pro-tax-cuts and pro-women staying home with kids; current Demoracratic party is the opposite. So the people who might want to use tax cuts to "solve" a problem don't see this as a problem to be solved, and vice-versa.

But even more basically, I don't think we need to enshrine more discrimination in our laws, even in the interest of fixing discrimination. First, I doubt this would pass Constitutional muster. I mean, despite 300 years of slavery, universities are struggling to maintain even some minimal consideration of race in their admissions policies. We don't have anywhere near that record currently on gender discrimination -- not brushing it off, but slavery vs. 77 cents on the dollar? Not even close. So if you can't outright discriminate against white people to remedy 300 years of slavery, why in the world would the Supreme Court allow outright discrimination against men without anywhere near as compelling a reason?

Practically, this is also unnecessary. People who make less also pay less taxes -- not just overall, but as a percentage of income, and single-family households are eligible for a number of credits. And on the flip side, there are plenty of high-earning women out there -- why should I get a tax break when I earn a healthy income and haven't been held down by discrimination? Yes, I ran into it here and there, but I was lucky and smart and it didn't stop me. So, what, I need a tax cut to apologize for the inconvenience in my life? Please.

And what's with the "marriage tax penalizes women" thing? Last I checked, the marriage tax penalized my FAMILY -- it's OUR money, and it doesn't matter whose income you list first or second.

I think there is a lot we can do to make the tax code fairer (starting with eliminating the mortgage deduction on second homes). But there are ways to target fixes to the people who need them, instead of just codifying more discrimination.

Fundamentally, this is just wrong. Two wrongs don't make a right. Yes, inequality and discrimination are problems. So we need to demand that our representatives have the guts to tackle that directly, and we need to have the political will to press for what we want. But don't just slap on a one-size-fits-all bandaid that doesn't help everyone who needs it and helps some people who don't need it.

Yes, women have been through a lot. But understanding that discrimination makes me even more determined NOT to want to inflict that on anyone else. I love my husband, and my brothers, and my dad(s), and my nephews. So why would I want to penalize them, just because of their gender?

Posted by: Laura | May 7, 2007 8:32 AM

"Good for women, good for kids, good for the economy -- maybe there's a chance this idea will hit pay dirt."

Whether it's good for men just isn't anyone need be concerned about, is it?

Posted by: Doug0 | May 7, 2007 8:33 AM

Chris1458 wrote: (1) "can't we figure this out without constantly giving extra rights to groups?"

There is no such thing as "extra rights." We have rights that no one can take away, and we can't be given rights. This tax would be like an incentive, not a right.

(2) "Somehow we need special laws for minorities and gays and women--when, last I checked, the Constitution applied to everyone."

"All men are created equal." I think that speaks for itself. We have amendments because the Constitution could be interpreted to not apply to everyone. Even with amendments, rights were verified, spelled out, not given.

(3) "How is the crime of murder worse if it is motivated by hate of blacks, women or gays?"

There are stiffer penalties for a hate crime because more crimes are committed against these groups than white straight men. These groups are in more danger of a violent attack. Therefore, the penalties should be greater so that they are a better deterrent. The crime itself is not worse. The punishment is worse to try to better protect these minority groups.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 8:36 AM

There's a big difference between encouraging "greed" and supporting women's financial independence. Big cop-out to assume women CAN'T be providers AND nurturers!

The pay gap is what's terribly unfair and sexist. Perhaps it takes a gender based correction to fix it. But if you're going to call the solution biased, you have to look at the underlying problem as well.

Posted by: Leslie | May 7, 2007 8:36 AM

The marriage penalty doesn't penalize women, it penalizes couples, since the combined income is what is taxed at the higher rate, not one or the other spouse.

Filing separately is an option only if each spouse keeps investments and income completely separate in their household, and even then the taxes tend to be higher than filing jointly anyway.

This looks like a blunt force solution to a problem (marriage penalty). How about just abolishing that instead of reducing the tax rate for one or the other sex?

Posted by: John L | May 7, 2007 8:37 AM

Laura wrote: "I love my husband, and my brothers, and my dad(s), and my nephews. So why would I want to penalize them, just because of their gender?"

While I agree that this tax is discriminatory, I do want to point out that men do not pay more in taxes. They, in fact, are not being penalized. In addition, women would bring home more of the money they earn, so the family, including the sons and husband, would benefit.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 8:40 AM

I am with you at noon!

Posted by: Bluefin | May 7, 2007 8:40 AM

"Hypothetically, there is no loss to the government because even with a lower tax rate for women, the IRS would continue to bring in approximately the same tax revenue, the researchers say, because the INCREASE IN THE NUMBER OF WOMEN WORKING -- and therefore paying taxes --would offset the lower taxes women owe." (emphasis mine)

Ha! Finally something ludicrous enough to make me stop lurking and actually post.

This is an absolutely absurd concept. I'm not one of those who believes that there must be ~exactly~ the same rules for women and men -- this is not why the concept is absurd.

It's absurd because of the assumption that there will be an increase in the number of women working. Why is that a reasonable assumption??? Is there research to back this up? The additional percentage pay increase made up by this tax cut ~might~ still be offset by whatever the negative impact was to wages when the SAHM started staying at home.

So it's an open question as to whether the SAHMs would go back to work, because they might not make more $$$ by doing so since they have been out of the workplace.

Leslie, you have NOT (okay, the authors of this study have NOT) indicated how you would pay for this tax cut, therefore under pay-as-you-go, Nancy Pelosi and crew laugh your idea right out of committee, as well they should!

-Pp.

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 8:43 AM

I think that anything that encourages women to choose greed over motherhood / nurturing children would be a bad thing.

Posted by: Father of 4

Cuts both ways as it sounds as though the supposition is that the current tax code encourages men to choose money over raising their children.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 8:43 AM

FWIW, I think this tax would not work. I think that social programs are a better idea in the long run. I agree with all of the potential pitfalls that others have pointed out.

The more I read about special tax breaks and tax cuts, the more I support the flat tax.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 8:44 AM

This topic is already sinking fast.
You wrote:
But if you're going to call the solution biased, you have to look at the underlying problem as well.

Maybe the soluton is to pass the ERA.

Posted by: To Leslie | May 7, 2007 8:44 AM

As long as we divide ourselves into these sub categories, no one will be "equal." If you see yourself as a woman and not a worker, or an African American and not an American or separate yourself out because of your sexual orientation--no one can be equal.

Meesh--as for hate crimes...using blacks as an example--who is responsible for most of the violent crime committed against blacks? It's not white men...it is black men...so it doesn't make any sense to increase the deterrent for them. Violent crimes against gays? You are going to find that most of it is committed by people within the same group...gays.

If a gay man kills a gay man and a heterosexual man kills a gay man--the heterosexual should get a stiffer penalty? Perfect example of how we are using laws to make some people have additional rights--in this case the gay man has the "right" to a lighter sentence--

it's wrong all around...

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 7, 2007 8:44 AM

I'm not one of those who believes that there must be ~exactly~ the same rules for women and men

I see...hmm...are there special pink doors for women who commit crimes versus blue doors for the men?

The laws are supposed to be designed to apply to the citizenry--irregardless of gender.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 8:46 AM

If a government that favors more participation by women in the work force can Constitutionally tax women less than men, then another government that favors less participation by women in the work force -- should such a government ever come to power -- can Constitutionally tax women *more* than men. I don't want government to have the power to do either of these things.

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | May 7, 2007 8:49 AM

Put a fork in it...

Posted by: it's done | May 7, 2007 8:51 AM

Irregardless is not a word, 8:46.

Your argument is hereby discarded due to lack of author credibility.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 8:54 AM

You are incorrect but not entirely wrong.

From the American Heritage Dictionary:

ir·re·gard·less (ĭr'ĭ-gärd'lĭs) Pronunciation Key
adv. Nonstandard
Regardless.


[Probably blend of irrespective and regardless.]


Usage Note: Irregardless is a word that many mistakenly believe to be correct usage in formal style, when in fact it is used chiefly in nonstandard speech or casual writing...

Posted by: to 8:54 | May 7, 2007 9:02 AM

At 8:54 the grammar police showed up with their red pen...and had nothing of worth to contribute to the discussion.

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 7, 2007 9:03 AM

Interesting idea but doubt it will work. The marriage penalty is supposed to penalize couples. It hurts the overall couples buying power. But I have always thought the marriage penalty makes sense because it does not cost the same to maintain a family as two separate individuals. Couples can take advantage of economies of scale. Aside from the equity of the marriage penalty it is not aimed at hurting women in particular. Overall, I can't see the government choosing to tax women differently from men. Taxes should not be based on gender alone.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 9:05 AM

I already pay less in taxes, since my income is less than a male working in the same position as me.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 9:06 AM

Clearly there is a second discussion emerging about whether people/genders/groups in general can justifiably be subjected to a different set of rules/laws/guidelines.

I truly do not understand how someone can make the argument that amounts to "We are all Americans and we should all live by only one set of rules/practices."

To me that argument shows a callous and willful disregard for the fact that all in this country are not treated equally, in practice, RIGHT NOW. If we were all on equal footing (pay gap by gender, sentencing gap based on race, social shunning of the differently-abled to name only a few) THEN we could have a discussion about one set of rules/practices.

Until that day, people who gripe about having square footage in public bathrooms "wasted" by county regs that require a wheelchair accessible stall (I have heard this complaint) may be seen as trying to preserve a society that is slanted to their advantage. Let me repeat that "...SLANTED TO THEIR ADVANTAGE."

The thing I find most ironic is that the social policy most reflective of this type of argument is Socialism. And the people making this "one set of rules" argument (in my personal experience) typically have such a pre-conditioned knee-jerk negative response to the word Socialism that they can't even have a rational discussion about some of it's positives.

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 9:08 AM

Chris1458, in terms of sentencing, many factors are taken into consideration. The presence of discrimination is only one among many others, like alcohol or drugs, "passion," self defense, etc. It's odd to choose this one over any other when all bear the same weight when the judge decides the punishment.

For rights, I'll say again that rights are not given. We are born with rights. They are defined in the Constitution, which was not meant to be an exhaustive list. The Amendments further difine those rights. Law protect rights--they do not grant them. Some laws restrict rights--those should be thrown out.

For equality, recognizing differences does not prohibit equality. For example, all people should have access to healthcare. In the hospital, people have different needs. Because women have babies, they need special services that men do not need. Because men have prostates, they have special services that women do not need. Is this "unequal?" No. Acknowledging differences is not the problem. The problem is a certain group demands special treatment based on the idea that its group is better than the rest.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 9:13 AM

Well, the other Chris summed it up for me already. I will add however, that people named Chris should get a tax break. ;-)

Seriously, EVERYONE should be afforded equal protection under the law. Creating special rules for a group of people just creates a protected class... and eventually under things such as this or the "Hate Crimes Law" proposal, many people would be hurt in the long run. I would rather this country focus on equality for women than take the short-cut of tax breaks. Nobody ever sees the long-term implications when they think up these things. No, it does not increase taxes for men, but in the long run, why hire men if you can not only get a woman cheaper, but have her pay less taxes? Where is the long-term balance? It is harmful to women in the long run too! It would just solidify any glass ceiling they were about to break through. Sure, you will not pay as high taxes, but your earning potential would forever be squashed...
Of anything I have ever seen, this is by far one of the most short-sighted proposals. I never thought I would say this, but can we go back to whining about daycare of breastfeeding in public instead?

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 9:15 AM

PP:You make a good point. Our current tax structure is not equal in terms of % of taxes owed. It is a progressive system that taxes a greater % based on increasing income. I think it is great that you pointed out the positives of different regulations to help the disabled.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 9:16 AM

Hi Chris, it's me with the red pen. Let me make a point for you....

In America, everyone will never be "equal." Having every citizen be equal is a tenent of what someone else mentioned....wait for it.....~Socialism~. In a capitalist society, everyone is not equal, by design.

What we strive for is "equal protection under law", which is a clause in the Fourteenth Amendment.

The courts get to decide what "Equal Protection Under Law" means, because it's Con Law. Today it means that black crack dealers get 5 times the sentences of white cocaine dealers. It also means that white skinheads get longer sentences for beating up gays than gays get for beating up other gays.

Those practices go more to the "Protection" (of protected classes) point more than the "Equal" (equality of all citizens) point, but the practical differences in sentencing is clearly constitutional.

So there's a point for you, and I can write it in red pen next time if you like.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 9:18 AM

The one benefit I see from this idea is that it would quickly shake up the foundation of the primary breadwinner. Until we do that, we won't have widespread gender equality.

That said, however, I find this solution a sad alternative to better flextime benefits and highly desirable reduced-hours careers/jobs. I inherently dislike the idea that we would make our tax code unequal by gender to solve a gender inequality, as many other posters have written.

Posted by: equal | May 7, 2007 9:21 AM

Anyone who falls for this article's obvious troll-bait has only themselves to blame.

Posted by: DCer | May 7, 2007 9:25 AM

Q. What does an economist do?

A. A lot in the short run, which amounts to nothing in the long run.

Posted by: For Fred | May 7, 2007 9:28 AM

Proud Papa--Laws are supposed to apply to everyone the same; I said nothing about practices. Practice whatever you like.

Laws may do away with the institutionalization of discrimination but they can not nor should they legislate my thought or yours. We are still free to dislike people for stupid reasons, i.e. race or gender or sexual orientation.

Laws were changed to allow women and minorities are to enter the workplace, to be considered for positions that they are qualified for and not passed over or fired because of their race or gender. Those laws were the successes of the last generation.

Success of this generation would be to take advantage of those laws that allowed us access and to prove our competence, to, through hard work and perseverance, prove that we are equal. In doing so, mindset, which again, you can not legislate would slowly change.

Whining that we are not equal and that we are oppressed and burdened and need what amounts to the thought police to fight our battles for us makes the torch passed by those who fought for access dimmer.

Also, are you equating being disabled with being black or being a woman?

Meesh--I will change my wording. Rather than right substitute special treatment which by definition makes it inherently not equal and inherently unfair. I have no problem acknowledging differences between men and women. I think we should do more of it. But you can't in one breath say men and women are different so they need different services and then refuse to acknowledge that women who have children and take years off to care for those children are as reliable an employee as a man who doesn't have kids or has a wife that is the primary care giver.

People make choices as is their right; the rest of the world is not required to make accomodations for those choices.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 9:29 AM

This sure would kick butt if you happen to be a female who makes 100% of what your male coworkers make. Maybe this would encourage women to ask for what they're worth.

And that's all I have to add today until someone jumps the shark.

I do have a hair story I forgot to add Friday. A Muslim teenaged girl in France was told she could not cover her hair at school, because, as you know, the French are extremely racist. Instead of showing her hair, something she was very modest about, she shaved her head. Good for her! Well, they expelled her for insubordination. That's heinous. It's like forcing modest Americans to go topless on French beaches. That story made me very angry.

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2007 9:29 AM

9:29 belongs to me...my name didn't show up for some reason.

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 7, 2007 9:29 AM

At 8:54 the grammar police showed up with their red pen...and had nothing of worth to contribute to the discussion.

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 7, 2007 09:03 AM

Perhaps this idea is so patently absurd that there is nothing worthy of discussion in it.

Posted by: 8:54 | May 7, 2007 9:30 AM

To me, the fierce and emotional negative reaction to this logical, rational solution developed by objective economists shows how tough it is to be a working mom in this country.

We are told how important motherhood is to our culture -- but if that's true, why shoot down so quickly an idea that would be easy to implement, and would help women and children, and not hurt men, our government, or companies?

Are women really supposed to just accept the lack of fair treatment (pay) at work? Why are men allowed to be "greedy" in seeking higher pay, but women are not?

Today's comments reveal how deep-seated our prejudices against women, especially economically independent women, are in our culture.

Posted by: Leslie | May 7, 2007 9:31 AM

8:54 - I agree with you.

I'm all for flat tax. Treat everyone the same and stop social engineering via taxation. It doesn't work as it just creates ways to beat the system. Unintended consequences and the like.

Maybe if everyone was treated the same, everyone would have equal desire to find their definition of balance.

Posted by: dotted | May 7, 2007 9:33 AM

Red pen--thank you for the correction. Equal under the law is all I think we should strive for--and that is not the goal of things like Hate Crime legislation...no matter how you frame it--protecting or otherwise--it is an attempt to force a different thinking--and that won't work. And please no red pen, my editor drives me nuts with that thing. :)

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 7, 2007 9:33 AM

I've not looked at the original research, but in addition to thinking this is a bad idea, I don't see how it would solve the problem.

In a simple example, if a man makes $100, pays 30% in federal taxes, that leaves him with $70. If a woman makes $79, pays 24% in federal taxes, that leaves her with $60.

So, it helps, but the gap still exists. Or am I missing something?

Isn't a better sollution the one suggested by last week's guest entry?

Posted by: VAMom | May 7, 2007 9:33 AM

FEUDALISM: You have two cows. Your lord takes some of the milk.

PURE SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. You have to take care of all the cows. The government gives you as much milk as you need.

BUREAUCRATIC SOCIALISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and puts them in a barn with everyone else's cows. They are cared for by ex-chicken farmers. You have to take care of the chickens the government took from the chicken farmers. The government gives you as much milk and as many eggs as the regulations say you should need.

FASCISM: You have two cows. The government takes both, hires you to take care of them, and sells you the milk.

PURE COMMUNISM: You have two cows. Your neighbors help you take care of them, and you all share the milk.

RUSSIAN COMMUNISM: You have two cows. You have to take care of them, but the government takes all the milk.

DICTATORSHIP: You have two cows. The government takes both and shoots you.

SINGAPORE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. The government fines you for keeping two unlicensed animals in an apartment.

MILITARIANISM: You have two cows. The government takes both and drafts you.

PURE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors decide who gets the milk.

REPRESENTATIVE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. Your neighbors pick someone to tell you who gets the milk.

AMERICAN DEMOCRACY: The government promises to give you two cows if you vote for it. After the election, the president is impeached for speculating in cow futures. The press dubs the affair "Cowgate".

BRITISH DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You feed them sheep's brains and they go mad. The government doesn't do anything.

BUREAUCRACY: You have two cows. At first the government regulates what you can feed them and when you can milk them. Then it pays you not to milk them. After that it takes both, shoots one, milks the other and pours the milk down the drain. Then it requires you to fill out forms accounting for the missing cows.

ANARCHY: You have two cows. Either you sell the milk at a fair price or your neighbors kill you and take the cows.

CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell one and buy a bull.

HONG KONG CAPITALISM: You have two cows. You sell three of them to your publicly listed company, using letters of credit opened by your brother-in-law at the bank, then execute a debt/equity swap with associated general offer so that you get all four cows back, with a tax deduction for keeping five cows. The milk rights of six cows are transferred via a Panamanian intermediary to a Cayman Islands company secretly owned by the majority shareholder, who sells the rights to all seven cows' milk back to the listed company. The annual report says that the company owns eight cows, with an option on one more. Meanwhile, you kill the two cows because the Feng Shui is bad.

ENVIRONMENTALISM: You have two cows. The government bans you from milking or killing them.

FEMINISM: You have two cows. They get married and adopt a veal calf.

TOTALITARIANISM: You have two cows. The government takes them and denies they ever existed. Milk is banned.

POLITICAL CORRECTNESS: You are associated with (the concept of "ownership"is a symbol of the phallo-centric, war-mongering, intolerant past) two differently-aged (but no less valuable to society) bovines of non-specified gender.

COUNTER CULTURE: Wow, dude, there's like... these two cows, man. You got to have some of this milk. Far out! Awesome!

SURREALISM: You have two giraffes. The government requires you to take harmonica lessons.

JAPANESE DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You give the milk to gangsters so they don't ask any awkward questions about who you're giving the milk to.

EUROPEAN FEDERALISM: You have two cows which cost too much money to care for because everybody is buying milk imported from some cheap east-European country and would never pay the fortune you'd have to ask for your cows' milk. So you apply for financial aid from the European Union to subsidise your cows and are granted enough subsidies. You then sell your milk at the former elevated price to some government-owned distributor which then dumps your milk onto the market at east-European prices to make Europe competitive. You spend the money you got as a subsidy on two new cows and then go on a demonstration to Brussels complaining that the European farm-policy is going drive you out of your job.

EASTERN EUROPEAN DEMOCRACY: You have two cows. You sell the milk (diluted with some water) at a high price to the neighbors or to anyone at the open-air market. If somebody asks for receipt, you charge for a two times higher price, so nobody will request an invoice. For concerned families with small babies you claim that the milk is "bio", though you collect the grass for feeding at the side of the highway and you keep the milk in plastic barrels used previously as containers of dangerous chemicals. Later, your neighbor or anybody from town will steal the cows and will buy their meat for a high price, and if you ask for a receipt, you will be charged for a two times higher price.

FINNISH SOCIALISM: You have two cows. Soon you have to kill one of them because in the Netherlands there is an overproduction of milk and the European Union rules say so. When you do so, you realize that it was not necessary, only the system was too slow in getting you the up-to-date news. From the stress, you get an ulcer in your stomach so you go to a doctor. The doctor realizes that this ulcer is a serious one, so you need an urgent treatment. Therefore, you soon get a call to the local hospital. The call's date is for 3 months later, because there is a queue with more urgent cases. Then your ulcer becomes even more serious because you remember that 40 percent of your income is taken for social tax.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 9:33 AM

Ditto to everyone's reasons why this wouldn't work. I have another side to this, but keep in mind, I'm a writer and never studied economics, although I am very fascinated with the subject of late. Someone correct my thinking on this, please. I'm in my late 50s, still working, self-employed, which means I pay my own taxes (double because I'm the employee and the employer). I make out just fine as long as I pay my quarterly taxes on time, and that requires a lot of discipline, i.e., putting aside enough dollars to cover the quarterly taxes. For the past few years, I've been very successful, and instead of owing the IRS, I've actually received a really nice little something to add to my Roth, or take a vacation, or buy bonds, or whatever. My point is this: I would not want to be taxed less. I want to be in the same tax bracket as my male counterpart, self employed or not, because later when I am ready to retire, the amount of taxes I have paid into Social Security (by age I just made it to qualify for benefits)will determine how much of benefit I will receive.

Additionally, what is the reasoning behind lowering taxes for women as an incentive to return to work? I don't get that piece at all. The incentive should be an attractive (equal) salary/wage for the position, no matter who fills it, male, female, Asian, Indian, African American, or sexual orientation. That's the law. I used to be a compensation and benefits manager. I used to structure wage and salary for employees, whether they were secretaries, mail workers, administrators, or VPs. When I moved into hospital administration, I structured salaries for nurses, researchers, interns, fellows, and doctors. It was based purely on job duties, as outlined in the job description. It didn't matter who walked into my office. If the application I was looking at said Daniel Jones, and an African American named Danielle Jones walked in, if she had the qualifications, and her references checked out after the rigorous schedule of interviews for the next half day, then she was hired.

I honestly don't know of any woman who would want to be taxed less as a compromise, a token, rather than bumping up that 77 cents on the working man's dollar to a healthy 95 cents. It does more for our place in the working world, and for our tax structure, our own self esteem in the work place, and so many other benefits we haven't begun to realize.

As I said, please shoot a hole in my argument if I'm an idealist, but please be fair and explain why.

Posted by: angelinalenahan.blogspot.com | May 7, 2007 9:34 AM

Why not just exempt women from federal taxes completely?

Posted by: To Leslie | May 7, 2007 9:34 AM

to 9:28 :)

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 9:40 AM

"...why shoot down so quickly an idea that would be easy to implement, and would help women and children, and not hurt men, our government, or companies?"

Now, Leslie, your comment is NOT a fair one.

I'm just stipulating the need to pay for any tax cut. Not doing so DOES hurt the government, companies and the economy in general, because the deficit gets larger.

What would you like to cut to offset this tax break? And once you've picked that item, is it politically feasible?

And when you say "easy to implement", what do you base that on? Political feasibility? Because if you select "Defense Spending" as the thing you want to cut as an offset, "easy to implement" goes right out the window. While you may get that through the House, you never get a cloture vote on the bill in the Senate, to say nothing of the impending Presidential veto.

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 9:40 AM

angelina: The pay roll tax is separate from your federal taxes. In theory, the federal government could tax women differently from men but keep the pay roll tax the same for both genders. You would still reap the same SSI under the new system.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 9:40 AM

Chris1458, I can appreciate your post. And I would never say that "women who have children and take years off to care for those children are as reliable an employee as a man who doesn't have kids or has a wife that is the primary care giver." She is not as reliable, and she does not deserve special treatment. Social programs to make child care more affordable and to make work hours more flexible would lead to equality because it allows women to work if they want. That is my solution to the problem.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 9:41 AM

I have no comment on the tax issue. However, I would like to point out that the 77 cents to the dollar ratio does NOT refer to women and men in the same position. What is compared in this ratio is all women working full-time and year-round and all men working full-time and year-round (part-time employees are excluded because that would be comparing apples and oranges, as they usually earn less).
It is critical for journalists to understand the meaning of social statistics like this one in order to have an informed discussion.
This is not, by the way, to say that women don't suffer discrimination in wages in the workforce, but only to point out that it is not a statistic comparing women and men in the same position.

Posted by: Sociologist | May 7, 2007 9:51 AM

You wrote:
fierce and emotional negative reaction to this logical, rational solution
...and...
deep-seated our prejudices are...

Your reponse was far out of proportion to the reasonable objections.

Did you not expect criticism? Have you looked at all sides of this issue?

Posted by: To Leslie: | May 7, 2007 9:53 AM

"You would still reap the same SSI under the new system."

SSI is a needs-based program. SS retirement benefits are what you are talking about and are not the same thing as SSI payments.

Posted by: to foamgnome | May 7, 2007 9:56 AM

irregardless
One entry found for irregardless.

Main Entry: ir·re·gard·less
Pronunciation: "ir-i-'gärd-l&s
Function: adverb
Etymology: probably blend of irrespective and regardless
nonstandard : REGARDLESS
usage Irregardless originated in dialectal American speech in the early 20th century. Its fairly widespread use in speech called it to the attention of usage commentators as early as 1927. The most frequently repeated remark about it is that "there is no such word." There is such a word, however. It is still used primarily in speech, although it can be found from time to time in edited prose. Its reputation has not risen over the years, and it is still a long way from general acceptance. Use regardless instead.

Posted by: 8:46 | May 7, 2007 9:57 AM

Where do people get the idea that laws are legislating thought?

They are not. Neither by design, nor in practice.

They simply provide a structure for adjudication and punishment.

Does fear of adjudication or punishment provide a disincentive to commit crime? Perhaps. But back to the crack sentence versus cocaine sentence example -- I don't think the sentencing difference scares (disincentivizes - maybe that's not a word but you get my point) black crack dealers more than white cocaine dealers.

Harsher punishment for hate crime against "protected classes" does not punish thought. That's a distortion worthy of Rush Limbaugh.

An 9:29 asks "are you equating being disabled with being black or being a woman?
" I suspect this was supposed to be some sort of a 'gotcha' question. I am aware that having a high level of melanin in the skin is different from having a uterus. (Yes, I got that memo.) What I am comparing is the insidiousness of discriminating against someone because they are black or a woman or disabled. The act is equally reprehensible, in my book.

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 9:59 AM

Seems like this would make work done by women worth less in the eyes of the government and society, and it would become even harder to overcome the wage gap.

Posted by: College Park, MD | May 7, 2007 9:59 AM

Here's a thought, get out and vote!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 10:02 AM

angelina wrote: want to be in the same tax bracket as my male counterpart, self employed or not, because later when I am ready to retire, the amount of taxes I have paid into Social Security (by age I just made it to qualify for benefits)will determine how much of benefit I will receive.

"You would still reap the same SSI under the new system."

SSI is a needs-based program. SS retirement benefits are what you are talking about and are not the same thing as SSI payments.


Posted by: to foamgnome | May 7, 2007 09:56 AM

I posted to angelina. It seems like she is talking about her SSI retirement benefit. See above post that she wrote. But I may have misunderstood her post.

Posted by: to 9:56 | May 7, 2007 10:11 AM

I'm not sure about the tax cut idea. I'd prefer a universal health care system and maternity leave, 6 mos. paid as a gov. program. I think those two things would take away the incentive to have a male breadwinner and a woman taking "time off" from her career. I also don't see those as charity, federally funded maternity leave would just compensate the service that a new parent does by caring for the newborn child.
My understanding is that this time off that many new mothers take is the big culprit in the wage gap, despite differentials noted by the recent AAUW study.
I care about this a lot because I would like to start having children in the next couple of years and DH and I are struggling to imagine how we'll manage.

Posted by: Liz | May 7, 2007 10:12 AM

Leslie
After all these years advocating for equality, it just goes against the grain to advocate for open inequality-in this case-via taxation.

I prefer all parents, including single dads and single moms, to be treated equally.

Posted by: dotted | May 7, 2007 10:12 AM

Are women really supposed to just accept the lack of fair treatment (pay) at work? Why are men allowed to be "greedy" in seeking higher pay, but women are not?

Today's comments reveal how deep-seated our prejudices against women, especially economically independent women, are in our culture.


WHAT??? I am saying this would be bad for women in the long run! This measure is purely about women accepting less than fair treatment. seeking lower taxes is a concession to the fact that you will get paid less. Fight for fair pay and treatment instead and you will have long-term success. If you shoot yourself in the foot with a tax break you will just ensure the perpetuation of lower wages. At least try to see the long-term effects. This is not about evil male greed, it is about the stability of the nation. If you want equal pay for equal work, that is one thing, so do not settle for another in the form of a tax break that will just undermine any efforts of equal pay in the long run.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 10:13 AM

that was me at 10:13

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 10:14 AM

It amazes me that people have so much to say about a topic that is posted at least once a week.

Posted by: MV | May 7, 2007 10:16 AM

My mistake. I should have called it just SS not SSI. Anyway, she would still get the same SS as before.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 10:20 AM

I always thought that the logic behind hate-crimes bills is that hate crimes themselves are designed to (and do) have consequences that reach far beyond the immediate crime. They're meant to keep entire segments of society scared and submissive by sending the tacit message that "this can happen to you if you don't watch out." As such, they deserve to be punished in proportion with the greater harm they cause.

Please note, I am not trying to minimize the harm caused by "run of the mill" crimes (if there are such things). I'm sure the family of a random murder victim greives just as much as the family of a hate-crime victim. It's just that the hate crime has larger ripples in society.

Posted by: NewSAHM | May 7, 2007 10:21 AM

By 8:32 AM Laura had calmly and logically dissected the substance of today's column, revealing it for the bad idea it is.

Yet at 9:31 AM Leslie defensively wrote: "To me, the fierce and emotional negative reaction to this logical, rational solution developed by objective economists..."

Leslie, just because you CLAIM that this proposal is logical and rational does not make it so!

Just because you DEFEND it by smearing all rebuttals to it does not dismiss their substance. It was attacked fiercely, and at the same time with logic, precisely BECAUSE it's such a fatally flawed idea.

Just because you CLAIM this proposal could solve the gender pay gap does not make it so!

For that matter, there is no way to know that the economists involved in developing this proposal were actually being serious rather than hypothetical -- or if they merely concocted this scheme on April 1st one year.

So, Leslie, just let it go, and face the fact that today's column is simply a turkey.

Let the shark-jumping begin.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 10:22 AM

"Laws may do away with the institutionalization of discrimination but they can not nor should they legislate my thought or yours. We are still free to dislike people for stupid reasons, i.e. race or gender or sexual orientation."

I used to think this was true, but then it occured to be that hate crimes are in fact more serious than crimes of passion, etc. becuase there are more victims-- the victims of terror. I thinkit is apprpriate for society to allow juries to consider the harm done to those beyond the immediate victim(s) of a hate crime.

Posted by: Jen | May 7, 2007 10:25 AM

The comment about deep seated prejudices is really funny. It was just last week that a guest blogger posted about how women don't tend to negotiate for raises. There is no doubt in my mind that discrimination against women exists, but we need to take responsibility for the aspects of it that we can control and it seems that we don't. All the legislation in the world combined with all the whining in addition to the "dream" that someday women will be able to breastfeed while giving a business presentation won't get us where we want to go.

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 7, 2007 10:29 AM

Leslie, your 9:31 response was unworthy of you. Yes, a lot of people have disagreed with you -- but if anything, there has been a lot less bomb-throwing, and a lot more discussion of the merits, than usual. The fact that people disagree with this proposal doesn't automatically make for a "fierce and emotional negative reaction."

"Today's comments reveal how deep-seated our prejudices against women, especially economically independent women, are in our culture" -- ??? Ummm, speaking as one of those economically independent women, that's not at all what I hear. I hear a lot of people worrying that this proposal will UNDERCUT women's efforts to be economically independent, by giving businesses a legitimate reason to pay women less.

"We are told how important motherhood is to our culture -- but if that's true, why shoot down so quickly an idea that would be easy to implement, and would help women and children, and not hurt men, our government, or companies?" Well, first, you're talking apples and oranges. You equate motherhood with working mothers. But as I pointed out above, most of the people who want to put motherhood on a pedestal really mean stay-at-home motherhood.

And second, I don't think this really would encourage women to go back to work. The stories I hear about women who quit are either based on (a) moral beliefs about being home with their kids; or (b) a lack of part-time positions or flexible work hours. You won't change (a), and more pay for the same conditions won't do much for (b), either. And women who are in the work force might also use the opportunity to work less, thereby allowing them to spend more time with their kids (that would be me, btw).

Third, I don't see this as a "help women, don't hurt anyone else" option. We can argue semantics about whether men get their taxes raised or women get theirs cut -- the end result is the same, where a man pays more than a woman just because he's a man. And a lot of us who value equality highly do not accept that as a viable solution. Plus I do NOT trust projections about tax cuts paying for themselves -- didn't trust it from Reagan, didn't trust it from Bush, so why would I start to trust it now?

"Are women really supposed to just accept the lack of fair treatment (pay) at work?" HE** NO! "Why are men allowed to be "greedy" in seeking higher pay, but women are not?" Not fair at all.

But this is my problem with the argument: you're not talking about pay here! If there's a problem, attack the problem. Go pressure companies to pay women what they're worth; go pressure the government to fund the EEOC; go vote for candidates who will appoint administrators and judges who take those issues seriously. But that's NOT what you're advocating here -- in fact, you seem to be throwing up your hands and acknowledging that we're never going to have the political will to fix those problems, so you're just going to try to compensate those who suffer through the tax code. And I just fundamentally disagree with that approach. Bandaids don't cure anything; they just keep you from seeing what's going on underneath.

Posted by: Laura | May 7, 2007 10:30 AM

Dumb, dumb, dumb. How many times, Leslie, are you going to bring up that over-cited, misunderstood statistic about women making 77 cents on the man's dollar? Have you bothered to read Amy Joyce's column in the Post that explains the latest research on this issue (http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/04/28/AR2007042800827.html)?

If you bothered to educate yourself, Leslie, you might stop quoting such a meaningless yet inflammatory statistic. All it does is make it appear that, across the country, women are being discriminated against SO MUCH that they actually earn 77 cents on the man's dollar when, in reality, that's a giant misrepresentation of the facts.

Posted by: Ryan | May 7, 2007 10:33 AM

Chris, why do you accuse people who disagree with you of "whining"?

That's a tactic bullies use when their arguments can't win the day. It's back-handed name calling. And it's meant to make you appear stronger, even when your arguments are flawed....

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 10:34 AM

Please correct me if I am wrong (I am often wrong!), but wasn't it Oliver Wendell Holmes who said, "This [Supreme Court] is a court of law, not a court of justice."

It seems to me that is an appropriate thought to keep in our minds.

I don't want a pink/blue tax system. I would love to see everyone compensated at fair-market value for the work they supply. Obviously, very, very few of us can actually afford to pay a hard-working SAHP what they are worth.

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 7, 2007 10:34 AM

This is insane. Income taxes are already based on - guess what - income! Women live longer than men, and get more back from Social Security and Medicare.

If you ladies want to rejigger the tax rates on a gender basis, that's fine with us guys - as long as you're willing to tie Social Security and Medicare taxes to life expectancy. We're tired of paying more than our fair share!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 10:38 AM

"So, Leslie, just let it go, and face the fact that today's column is simply a turkey."

That's putting it kindly.

Posted by: Demos | May 7, 2007 10:41 AM

At 10:30 AM Laura wrote: "Plus I do NOT trust projections about tax cuts paying for themselves -- didn't trust it from Reagan, didn't trust it from Bush, so why would I start to trust it now?"

Laura, I don't know whether you're old enough to remember that this theory was developed by an econ prof at USC (a rich kids' school, naturally), who sketched out for Reagan on a paper napkin during a meal. The Laffer Curve was named after the prof -- although Laugher Curve seems closer to the mark ;-)

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 10:48 AM

When I said whining, it was in pure silliness about wanting to go back to the repetitive flagellation of a deceased equine over the current absurd proposal. Not meant to be bullying that as often pointed out with logic is truly absurd and does nothing to solve the problem of equal pay, and in fact only solidifies it.

I never accused anyone who disagreed with me of whining. If someone can find a logical argument against what we have said, besides saying that so-and-so said so, or, "see, you are just greedy." I will listen- but nobody has said anything that supports long-term logic behind this proposal, and thus far have only succeeded in solidifying counter-arguments.

I will however acuse you of being a whiny troll, not because you disagree with me, but because that is what you are when you attempt to twist my words in some vain attempt to counter my logic instead of putting forth something of true substance. ;-P

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 10:48 AM

Maryland Mother wrote: "I would love to see everyone compensated at fair-market value for the work they supply. Obviously, very, very few of us can actually afford to pay a hard-working SAHP what they are worth."

Don't forget, most of us WOHPs do all the cooking and shopping and cleaning, too, on top of 75% kid time. We don't get paid for that either.

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2007 10:52 AM

So, Chris write a parody on this subject including (maybe) flat tax, no tax, VAT, and raising duties on foreign goods which was how the federal gov't was largely funded about 100 yrs ago.

Of course, you would probably want to use a Beatles song, say Taxman?

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 10:55 AM

Chris, I meant the other Chris. The one with the numbers. Do a "Find" on this page for the word "Whining."

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 10:57 AM

As a full-time employee myself, I know first-hand what you mean. But work is work is work, and I'm not going to undercut anybody's work. You know?

Posted by: Maryland Mother | May 7, 2007 10:59 AM

I vote for paying the same taxes as men and getting equal pay for the same job. Why give up on the original objective and compromise? If we want equality, we can't keep asking for exemptions.

I'd like to see the breakdown of which gender uses more services that are paid for by taxes: Medicare, public school, government-subsidized health care and student financial aid, welfare, etc. If we saw who used what, could we really assert that women should pay fewer taxes?

Posted by: Mona | May 7, 2007 11:01 AM

Ah, sorry then. I retract that about you being whiny. Still a troll, just not a whiny one. ;-P

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 11:05 AM

"Don't forget, most of us WOHPs do all the cooking and shopping and cleaning, too, on top of 75% kid time. We don't get paid for that either."

ATB, your reward for doing these things is the satisfaction you get from it. :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 7, 2007 11:05 AM

ATB, your reward for doing these things is the satisfaction you get from it. :-)

As in, doing it right, the first time!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 11:06 AM

Chris, Anon was responding to the "new" chris, the one with multiple random digits after his name. He lacks your sense of humor, among other qualities. Anyone who disagrees with him is "whining".

Posted by: Megan's Neighbor | May 7, 2007 11:09 AM

Dotted, the problem with the flat tax is that -- although it SOUNDS eminently fair -- in reality it's regressive. The reason is that lower-income people have to use a higher percentage of their incomes to pay for life's basics -- e.g., food, shelter, clothing, medical care, transportation, safety-net savings, retirement -- than wealthier people do, so they have a smaller percentage of their money left over for other expenses. Thus a flat tax would take a proportionately larger bite out of their income-after-basics than it would out of a wealthier person's.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 11:12 AM


What a great idea -- but to make it even better, we should address the life expectancy gap at the same time. Right now, on average men live 6 years less than women in the United States. Now, some may argue that this is an inherent result based on differences in behavior by men and women -- but we KNOW that the only possible reason for such a difference can be ACTIVE WIDE-SPREAD DISCRIMINATION.

As a modest proposal, I recommend that we institute a 'life expectancy tax' on all women. The easiest and most fair way to do this would be via a lottery that would be open and available to women of all age groups. Each year, the winner of this lottery would have their taxes set to 0% for the entire year [thus increasing the average tax-home earnings for women] -- and then, at the end of the year the woman would pay the 'life expectancy tax' and be terminated thus reducing the diffence in life expectancy between both men and women.

It's so obvious and fair, I don't know why nobody has thought of it before...

Posted by: A Modest Proposal | May 7, 2007 11:12 AM

"Thus a flat tax would take a proportionately larger bite out of their income-after-basics than it would out of a wealthier person's."

And, a VAT has exactly the same effect but with the insidious advantage of being "invisible" to the average consumer.

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 11:16 AM

Don't fat people get paid less for the same amount of work? I thought I saw that on fox news or something...fat discrimation in the workplace.

If that is the case, maybe we should pass a law that says if your BMI is over 25, you only pay 80% of what a healthy person pays.

And if you're a fat woman, oh man, just take all the money you want. No taxes for you!

Posted by: FatFolks | May 7, 2007 11:17 AM

Fred, Also, don't forget that a few states even charge sales tax on food -- talk about regressive.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 11:20 AM

VA charges sales tax on food.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 11:26 AM

If we had a system where men were taxed more than women, should we call the difference "The Penis Tax"?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 11:29 AM

You can buy all the junk food you want with food stamps, but you can't buy TP or soap.

We definitely should increase taxes on foreign substances... in addition to inspections! In other news, watch out for microwaved popcorn too...

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 11:29 AM

Before reading all comments, I really had to post. This is ridiculous. We should *not* be using the tax code to engineer social programs. We should be trying to *simplify* the tax code, not make it more complicated.
(www.fairtax.org)
So now with the tax code we sould be saying that it is okay to discrimate against women. How about separate taxes for blacks? Hispanics? People with blue eyes? Either it is or is not okay to discriminate. But you cannot have it both ways. I thought you went to wharton, leslie? I hope that thewy are not teaching people that this sounds good.

Again, making the tax code more complicated is never a good thing- taxes are for raising revenue, not for solving social issues. We already spend about a trillion dollars in this country just to comply with the tax code (money that could obviously be better spent elsewhere). Why make that number higher?

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 11:30 AM

Then if a man got a vasectomy, could he then qualify for a Penis Tax Cut?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 11:30 AM

I put the numbers after my name because when I didn't I was accused of posing as Chris.

Sorry you don't think I'm funny.

And no, not everyone who disagrees with me is whining but the amount of time spent by some complaining that life isn't fair--when most of what is being discussed is the result of choices on the part of women--well, it sounds like whining. Every choice has consequences. You can't do it all--all at the same time--and do it all well. The Enjoli commercial might have suggested it but it's not true.

And how come no one has commissioned a study comparing women and men in the same jobs who have worked for the same time and not taken time off to be at home with their children? Is it because we might not be as discriminated against and as oppressed then?

If this isn't whining, but true discrimination how come NOW or some other group hasn't done the research using truth in political math?

And, for those of you who assumed I was a man, I'm not.

Off to IEP meetings--have a great day!

Chris with the many numbers after her name. :)

Posted by: Chris1458 | May 7, 2007 11:33 AM

The "flat tax" idea is a *trick* to cheat middle-class people out of some of the deductions we get under the current tax system. The "flat tax" would be a fixed percentage of gross income, after subtracting some "standard" deduction.

Consider a business owner who buys goods and then resells them to the public. Maybe he buys $10,000 worth of goods a week, and sells them for $11,000. So, he earns $1,000 a week, or $52,000 a year, in net income. Are the "flat taxers" going to tax him on a fixed percentage of his gross income of 52 x $11,000 = $572,000 a year? That's surely not fair, and if we try it, no one will go into the business of buying and selling goods. So, we have to allow the businessman a deduction for "cost of goods sold." We don't tax him on the money that he pays out to his suppliers, because he does not get to keep that money.

Bingo! That's the end of the "flat tax." As soon as you allow one class of people a deduction, everyone else is going to want one, too. Those who pay State and local income tax will scream that, just as it's unfair to tax the businessman on money that he pays out to his suppliers and never gets to keep, so it is unfair to tax a citizen on money that is withheld from his pay for State income tax that he never gets to keep. And so on.

The effect of the "flat tax" is that the middle class -- the "people" -- will lose their deductions, while the upper class -- the "elite" -- will benefit from the end of progressive taxation. Meanwhile, government's growing appetite for our earned income to redistribute to the lower class -- the "rabble" -- will continue to grow.

Don't fall for the "flat tax."

Posted by: Matt in Aberdeen | May 7, 2007 11:33 AM

Leslie:

This has to be one of the most stupid ideas that has been proposed here -- on so many levels.

Gender Equality: As an employer, a tax system like this would encourage me to have a lower salary scale for women [since their take-home pay would be equivalent]. As a senior executive, this would be a great tax shelter - I would force the company to hire my stay-at-home wife as my admin assistance and have them pay her equal to me and then cut my salary [since it would be taxed higher]. As a business owner, I would make sure that my wife was the 'official' owner.

Racial Equality: The reason I would need to lower the women's scale would in large part be to reduce my exposure to racial discrimination. Do you *really* believe that women suffer more in lost wages than minority men? Take a look at the average income of minority men and all women -- you will find that women aren't doing so bad.

Income Equality: How many poor single men will need to chip in to cover the tax cut to Oprah? Are rich women really deserving of a tax cut at the expense of poor men?

The bottom line is that to the extent the tax code is a moral document, this change would reperesent an immoral adjustment. While it is an interesting academic exercise to examine it, the multiple and obvious faults should be [and based on most posts here are] visible to all. It is frankly shocking to hear anyone defend it as a serious proposition.

Posted by: A Dad | May 7, 2007 11:34 AM

Food tax is disgusting. Talk about taxing the poor.

F04: I was going to snort at you, but then I realized to do get satisfaction out of those things! I love surveying a house I just cleaned, and I love a fridge full of food I just cooked. Still, if the SAHPs are paid for that stuff, I want my check, too!

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2007 11:37 AM

Perhaps the more interesting aspect of a gender based tax system is what could portends for the immediate and the long term.

If you can choke down these 29 pages of the article, you would find that an immediate tax increase on males is called for along with the decrease in the female rate. You will also find that there could be a increase in divorce and decline in fertility rate as women would presumable become more economically independent.

The authors also postulate on the long term implication is that basically the role in the workplace between men and women change. The elasticity of the woman's labor pool would decrease and the elasticity of the men's labor pool would increase. This assumes that an economic unit comprised of a man/woman household would make the economically rational choice of whom would be in the labor pool. That choice would be for the woman to be the primary wage earner and the man the second earner. At some point, an equilibrium in wage rates would be reached then the males would begin to earn less money. So the tax system would again need to be rebalanced.

So, my point is this: is it a better way to redress inequitable social policy by the tax structure or is it better to redress it in some other manner?

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 11:38 AM

Matt- That's not what I think a flat tax is. I thought it was the same rate across the board. It doesn't take away deductions. But then, what do I know?

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2007 11:39 AM

atlmom, I agree, we should make things simpler.

New guidelines- In order to post in the future, please submit your post 3 times, counting the letters in it, subtracting the number of times you use the letter "a" from even numbered lines if your post is commented on more than one occasion. Should that number be less than 2, divide by zero and multiply by the number of times the word Daycare has been used either as a topic, or been referred to. Should the number be larger than two, tally all letters from odd lines of your post, subtract the occurance of every other use of the letter "b," re-read Leslies post, decide it's not worth fighting, run around in circles till you pass out, declare you are a woman and thus should not have to pay taxes, and file an exemption because elitists shouldn't have to pay taxes because it is against their religion to do anything they don't want to do. Option C- claim tax-credits for male-bashing. Option D- Claim exemption from declaring wages earned or lost while flogging dead horses.
Option E- Discuss something else and move on.

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 11:49 AM

This is a great idea! I can now cut the pay by 20% of every woman working at my company, and they have no reason to complain. Their takehome is still the same.

By the way, VA has sales tax on food, but it is at a reduced rate. We also have sales tax on medicine (prescription and over the counter). Yay regressive taxes.

Posted by: Bob | May 7, 2007 11:50 AM

Chris, dividing by zero is impossible.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 11:54 AM

This assumes that an economic unit comprised of a man/woman household would make the economically rational choice of whom would be in the labor pool. That choice would be for the woman to be the primary wage earner and the man the second earner. At some point, an equilibrium in wage rates would be reached then the males would begin to earn less money. So the tax system would again need to be rebalanced.

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 11:38 AM

Wow, an entire change in the financial structure of the family, just with a tax cut. Why haven't we been listening to the economists all along?

Do economists (and Leslie) really believe this with work? I think this was published on April 1st.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 11:55 AM

I think it's a great idea.

Of course, I live in a two-woman household.

. . .

Seriously, this is nuts. If there is a problem, then fix the problem directly, rather than jiggering around with addressing the symptoms indirectly. (No, I don't have a solution for the problem. It involves too many soft variables.)

Creating gender-based tax rates to reduce the impact of gender-based wage differences is like deciding that you have too many pets of various types, and therefore getting an additional cat so you will have proportionately fewer dogs.

Posted by: Clever moniker | May 7, 2007 11:56 AM

Chris, dividing by zero is impossible.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 11:54 AM

So is herding cats and nailing jello to a tree - I think that was his point?

:-)

Posted by: KLB SS MD | May 7, 2007 11:56 AM

To 11:55 AM: Not only are you an anonymous troll, you're also a plagiarizer. I posited an April 1st scenario to the development of today's crackpot theory back at 10:22 AM.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 11:58 AM

Hey, KLB, I'm able to herd cats. After all, not fer nuttin' I'm the Catlady!!!

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 12:00 PM

"Wow, an entire change in the financial structure of the family, just with a tax cut...Do economists (and Leslie) really believe this with work? I think this was published on April 1st."

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 11:55 AM

Wow! someone who actually read my boring summation of part of the 29 page paper!

For the answer to your question, please refer to my comment of 8:13.

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 12:01 PM

*still laughing at catlady*

Chuck Norris can divide by zero.

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 12:03 PM

Chris, Even Einstein couldn't divide by zero. In calculus, division by a very tiny quantity approaching zero is the closest that mathematics can come to this. Foamgnome, where are you to back me up on this when I really need you?

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 12:06 PM

"still laughing at catlady"

I gotta get out of this serious comments business!

Another economist joke coming up!

(Wait, doesn't telling jokes about economists defeat the purpose of being funny?)

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 12:07 PM

Mona-- I noticed you didn't list "prisons" in there-- any particular reason? Seems men "use" prisons far more often than women . . .

Posted by: Jen | May 7, 2007 12:07 PM

11:29:
After last week's discussion, I think you were brave to put the words penis and cut in the same sentence!

Leslie,
Logical and well-reasoned objections to an obviously bad idea DO NOT indicate discrimination against women. Are there any hard statistics to back up the assertion that this measure would benefit society without incurring far more damaging unintended consequences -- or is this "Laugher curve" redux?

Posted by: educmom | May 7, 2007 12:07 PM

Matt, the flat tax system that I think we're talking about is the flat sales tax rate and zero income tax.

catlady wrote: "lower-income people have to use a higher percentage of their incomes to pay for life's basics -- e.g., food, shelter, clothing, medical care, transportation, safety-net savings, retirement -- than wealthier people do, so they have a smaller percentage of their money left over for other expenses."

In fact, under the flat tax system, food and medical care would not be taxed. Neither would public transportation. Certain houses and clothing would be tax free (think subsidized housing and second-hand clothes). In reality, lower-income people will have more income (no tax) to buy things, and programs like Welfare will still exist.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 12:08 PM

To 11:55 AM: Not only are you an anonymous troll, you're also a plagiarizer. I posited an April 1st scenario to the development of today's crackpot theory back at 10:22 AM.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 11:58 AM

So, just posting anon make you a troll now?

I edit my post as follows:

Do economists (and Leslie) really believe this with work? I think this was published on April 1st. (an idea first posted by catlady at 10:22AM)


Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 12:09 PM

Catlady,

This is blog land not reality tv!

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 12:09 PM

Thanks Fred. So according to the article, the cost of the tax cut to women is offset by a tax increase to men.

Now I understand. I'm not in favor of it, but at least I see how the authors plan to pay for it.

Put me firmly in the camp of those who say we should push for the true goal of equal pay for equal work. Tinkering with the tax code to achieve it is silly. Would we have to change the tax code every year based on the % gender gap for the prior year?

The IRS/Census does not gather stats fast enough to make that possible. Another knock on Leslie's "easy to implement" assertion.

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 12:12 PM

Meesh, I didn't say that items like food and medical care would be TAXED under flat-tax. I said that (irrespective of taxation) they cost a larger percentage of lower-income people's incomes.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 12:16 PM

By the way, the notion that women would all be forced to take pay cuts if they got a tax break seems silly.

I am not aware of anyone getting their salary quoted in terms of take-home. How many of your bosses know how much you pay for medical insurance deductions or 401(k) or Roth or dental or stock purchase or 529 or any one of a million other deductions you could have.

Do the bosses know who those people are whose salaries are so close together that they straddle an income tax rate -- such that the lower paid person can actually take home more since they fall right under the next tax rate???

NO. Because the bosses can't compute your Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) off the top of their heads.

Its absurd to hear people claim women would start having their salaries viewed as their take home amounts.

Uttterly ridiculous.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 12:18 PM

"Thanks Fred. So according to the article, the cost of the tax cut to women is offset by a tax increase to men."

No, not at all that simple. The authors do not postulate a 1 for 1 exchange on the taxes paid between the sexes. Much more is involved here for instance: the lessening of transfer payments, the greater tax revenues provided by more participation in the aggregate workforce and a bunch of other junk.

Nontheless, my opinion of this is that is it is a simplistic and discriminatory answer for a complex problem.

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 12:19 PM

"No, not at all that simple. The authors do not postulate a 1 for 1 exchange on the taxes paid between the sexes. Much more is involved here for instance: the lessening of transfer payments, the greater tax revenues provided by more participation in the aggregate workforce and a bunch of other junk."

Man, that sounds like a fun article. I can't wait to pick it up later. ;-)

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 12:24 PM

catlady, gotcha.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 12:35 PM

I'd rather energy be poured into the ludicrous ways our money is spent (the bridge to nowhere, the war in iraq), than in trying to advocate for a [bad] new tax break.

As an aside, with regard to hate crime legislation, it should send a chill down the spine of most people that we want to try to interpret, legislate and punish the thoughts of citizens. Murder is murder - you should be sent away for it, not more, not less if we can or can't figure out why you targeted your victim. No one should be trying to legislate one's thoughts.

Posted by: Erin | May 7, 2007 12:38 PM

Its absurd to hear people claim women would start having their salaries viewed as their take home amounts.

Uttterly ridiculous.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 12:18 PM

No more ridiculous than assuming men would stay home more if their wives were taxed less.

Btw, an employer know the take home pay of every employee because the employer is witholding the federal taxes. So while they may not the AGI, they do know the take home pay because it is required of them to issue paychecks.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 12:40 PM

Is this tax going to apply to the $138K SAHMs allegedly "earn" while staying home?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 12:41 PM

*still laughing here* KLB hit the jello nail on the head. It was a joke, much like today's topic- though a lot more funny IMHO.

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 12:43 PM

Leslie Morgan Steiner = Got Owned.

Admit it, sweet cheeks.

Posted by: dc | May 7, 2007 12:43 PM

Is this tax going to apply to the $138K SAHMs allegedly "earn" while staying home?

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 12:41 PM

Golly, I sure hope so! Woo hoo! Mama needs a new pair of shoes!

Posted by: moxiemom | May 7, 2007 12:48 PM

moxiemom,
why would you hope so...idiot!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 12:50 PM

nailing jello to a tree...the mind boggles

Posted by: dotted | May 7, 2007 12:55 PM

moxiemom,
why would you hope so...idiot!!!

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 12:50 PM

Its called humor - look it up.

Posted by: moxiemom | May 7, 2007 12:56 PM

to anon at 12:18: i would think that a lot of men and women regard their salaries as their take home pay. I know I do. It does me no good if I can't save or spend it.

It's called looking at the bottom line rather than the top line. Let's say you have two choices: 100,000 per year, with 60% withheld to pay for taxes, medical insurance, etc.; or 50,000 per year, with 10% withheld. Which would you choose? Why?

And somebody already beat me to it, but yes, your employer does know exactly what your take home pay is. Your immediate supervisor might or might not, depending on the company, but HR/finance do, and they can set salaries (top line) to give you a desired take home (bottom line).

Posted by: Army Brat | May 7, 2007 12:59 PM

My point was not that the company you work for does not have access to your take home pay number.

My point was that the person making the decision on an indivdual employee's raise/comp does not necessarily have ready access to that information to make the decision.

I am confident that neither my CEO nor my direct boss know how many federal deductions I am claiming. Could they find out? Probably. But it hardly seems reasonable to think that they currently do so in order to figure out my annual raise number, or would do so in the future.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:02 PM

Wow, a topic so lame and ridiculous that we can't even get a good fight going.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:03 PM

Wow, those breakaway excommunicated Mormon men with six wives will be really sitting pretty if this tax cut goes through.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:04 PM

Sorry, the last post at 1:04 (though weirdly, not the previous post at 1:03 with very similar wording) was mine.

Posted by: clutterwoman | May 7, 2007 1:05 PM

Quit talking about me, 1:03 pm!

Posted by: Milton Friedman | May 7, 2007 1:05 PM

A few thoughts:

Once we legalize same-gender marriage, will that mean that married lesbian couples get twice the benefit that heterosexual couples get? Isn't that discriminatory?

And wouldn't that mean that a gay male married couple, who may have children, thereby necessitating some stay-at-home or re-enter the workforce decisions) wouldn't get any of this girls-only benefit? And isn't that even more discriminatory against gay males than heterosexual coouples?

And one last thought -- since one of the primary beneficiaries of this new tax structure would be working, single, childless females, please explain to me again how having single, shildless women pay less in income tax makes it easier for working mothers to decide whether or not to re-enter the workforce?

A stupid, untenable plan.

Posted by: Huh? | May 7, 2007 1:06 PM

In the wake of the 1:03 and 1:04 PM posts, maybe Blog Stats would like to count up and post the number of times different posters have used the word "Wow."

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 1:07 PM

My point was not that the company you work for does not have access to your take home pay number.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 01:02 PM

My point is that you are wrong. They know exactly what your take home pay number is, they write the checks. They also know what deductions you claiming, they file the W-4.

They have more than enough info to offset the gains in take home pay that would be seen by women if we reduced the female tax rate.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:10 PM

Army Brat and others, why do you think a company wants to manage employee compensation at the "take home pay" level? I don't understand the logic there.

As a company, MY financial commitment to the employee is the same, whether the employee contributes "X" amount to 401(k) or "Y" amount.

Why would I waste the time (and salaries) of extra HR and Finance staff to manage employee comp packages at this level?

"Oh, Bob gets fewer standard deductions than Frank because he has no kids, therefore Bob's increase in salary is going to be higher than Frank's so we can force their take home pay to be exactly the same!"

Well what if Mrs. Bob has a kid during the year? What if Frank gets divorced and can't claim those dependents anymore?

I don't understand why it is reasonable to hire HR/Finance staff to manage this. And having worked at several corporations as a fairly senior person, I've never ever seen it. I think some of the posters are reaching on this idea.

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 1:10 PM

And one last thought -- since one of the primary beneficiaries of this new tax structure would be working, single, childless females, please explain to me again how having single, shildless women pay less in income tax makes it easier for working mothers to decide whether or not to re-enter the workforce?


Damn. That's a good point.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:12 PM

"My point is that you are wrong. They know exactly what your take home pay number is...."


1:10!!! Stop It!

I never said the employing company doesn't have your take home pay number!!!

I used the word "bosses", meaning the individual person deciding on your raise.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:15 PM

"Wow, those breakaway excommunicated Mormon men with six wives will be really sitting pretty if this tax cut goes through."

Post of the day.

Runner up goes to catlady's "Chris, dividing by zero is impossible."

Yes, I'm still lauging over that!

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 1:17 PM

Catlady-you aere correct about the flat tax-but if you had a high deductuble-say 50,000 or so (ie only pay tax above that amount of income-i don't know what that number should be) then you get rid of it being regressive. Check out the fairtax-while it does add sales tax on everything, everyone gets a check monthly as a prebate of taxes they would pay on necessities (I think this is better than exempting thing-keep everything under it- the problem with the current tax code is all the exceptions). Also: the best part is everyone pays it *not* just people who are receiving a legal wage, ie those earning income illegally.
And the amount of money needed to comply would be significantly less than currently.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 1:20 PM

Why would I waste the time (and salaries) of extra HR and Finance staff to manage employee comp packages at this level?

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 01:10 PM

While I don't think many companies would do this to the penny. It can easily be done without even having the knowledge of take home pay. Just look at the employees gender, and adjust raise accordingly.

It is just another one of the unindended consequences of this proposal.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:25 PM

I can't believe I missed the best math post of the day. One can not get a real number if one is dividing by zero. A/0=undefined. Catlady is correct. See link: http://mathworld.wolfram.com/DivisionbyZero.html
A simple test is to take any real number on a calculator and divide it by zero. What do you get? Error.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 1:31 PM

I used the word "bosses", meaning the individual person deciding on your raise.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 01:15 PM

Where I work, my boss is not the only one who decides what my raise will be. The budget for raises is set by upper management (as a percentage of payroll) and then they split up the pie based on a bunch of formulas. They give each person the percentage that they feel is right based on preformance.

If this tax scheme were implemented, all they would have to do is figure out all the raises as they did before and then reduce the female one by 13% to offset the tax difference.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:32 PM

Why would I waste the time (and salaries) of extra HR and Finance staff to manage employee comp packages at this level?

______________________________

Because you're trying to manage profitability, which means you want to pay the people the lowest amount for which they'll give you the desired productivity. If they'll do the work to the best of their ability and be happy at $50,000/year, why would you pay them $100,000/year?

And the assertion I (and others) make is that many people calculate how much it takes to keep them happy and working at full productivity in terms of bottom line, not top line, income. In other words, if I'm happy and fully productive at $60,000/year take home, you don't gain anything by paying me such that my take home is $80,000/year.

So, if you can give me a take home of $60,000 at a top line cost to you of $100,000; or because of a different tax structure you can give me a take home of $60,000 at a top line cost to you of $80,000, which is better? Either way, we've already determined I'm happy and fully productive.

(And FWIW, you can't let 401k and other items enter into this analysis, because that's money that belongs to the employee. You have to keep it to taxes, social security, probably insurance, etc.)

Posted by: Army Brat | May 7, 2007 1:34 PM

For crying out loud. Mormons are clearly not horrible enough.

SPINACH HEMORROIDS

Please...jump...shark...

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2007 1:35 PM

Matt you clearly don't know what you are talking about. There is a huge difference between revenue and profit. The profit in your example is indeed 1000 per week, so that is what the person would pay taxes on. What you said is just absurd. It is not a deduction. And you are mixing personal income with business income. Totally different as well.

Catlady: you are correct. You can divide by a really small number, approaching zero, but not zero itself.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 1:36 PM

i'll just throw this out there - i have a friend in HR/compensation, and she says that in a lot of companies, there is no gender discrimination yet pay gaps still show up. how? because in a lot of situations, the squeeky wheel is the one that gets the grease, and usually women are way less likely to waltz into their boss's office and ask for more money.

so ... maybe the pay gap is at least partially our own fault? it might be a personality trait that has a 77% correlation to gender?

and if that's true, those of us without the ability to walk up to the boss and make a strong and compelling arguement about our pay are simply being paid less due our inability to play the game that men have been better socialized to play.

not saying there's no discrimination anywhere in women's pay (there probably is in some companies), but the classic failure in logic is to assume that because A happens before B (employee is female then employee is paid less), that means that A causes B. There might be a "C" that you're missing (employee never/rarely argued with boss about salary).

just food for thought.

Posted by: ffx | May 7, 2007 1:38 PM

To 11:55 AM: Not only are you an anonymous troll, you're also a plagiarizer. I posited an April 1st scenario to the development of today's crackpot theory back at 10:22 AM.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 11:58 AM

_________________________________

Who whizzed in your Wheaties this morning?

Posted by: Wow | May 7, 2007 1:40 PM

Are we really so math impaired in this country that some people don't know you can't divide by zero?

Or is it, just when some people see word problems, they are taken back to algebra and the train leaving NY and the tarin leaves LA and can see no humor when math is involved?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:41 PM

Catlady, Foamy,

Given the equation y = sin(x) / x, as x approaches 0, y gets evaluated as 1.

Yes, you can divide by 0 and get an answer other than undefined.

Both of you should know better! :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 7, 2007 1:41 PM

ffx, we talked about that (ad nauseum) last week

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:42 PM

This whole theory is so couched in assumptions, removal of variables and the discounting of decision making beyond economic rationalization, it is just that, a theory. A nice thing to think about but with no practicable application.

Two examples of what the authors have excluded from consideration to make their theory "tidy".

"assuming that the tax cut is not completely absorbed by lower pre tax wage"

"If every married couple were identical (thus ignoring issues of progressive taxation and different productivities...)"

I would tell you more but my poor CSS mind is just overwhelmed by considering all the variables which have been excluded.


Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 1:42 PM

In fairness to our LDS readership, the Church of Latter Day Saints (Moromons) do not allow polygamy any more. They outlawed that when Utah wanted statehood. The church encourages people to obey the laws of the country they live in. In fact, the church of LDS, has some pretty strong feelings against polygamy even though it is part of their past. The polygamists today are break aways from the LDS church or just different religions all together. I know the post was meant to be funny but I just thought I should clarify for others who may interpret it to be more then a joke.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 1:43 PM

To 11:55 AM: Not only are you an anonymous troll, you're also a plagiarizer. I posited an April 1st scenario to the development of today's crackpot theory back at 10:22 AM.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 11:58 AM

_________________________________

Who whizzed in your Wheaties this morning?

Posted by: Wow | May 7, 2007 01:40 PM

Don't worry, I edited my post to cite her as having the original idea.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:44 PM

fo4: I said division of "real numbers" by zero. Limits can also be divided by zero.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 1:45 PM

fo4: In your example, x approaches zero but never actually gets to zero. again, it is a limiting problem. X is not the real number zero. You should know better!

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 1:47 PM

Or is it, just when some people see word problems, they are taken back to algebra and the train leaving NY and the tarin leaves LA and can see no humor when math is involved?

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 01:41 PM
No, on balance people just like to argue.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 1:48 PM

Catlady, Foamy,

Given the equation y = sin(x) / x, as x approaches 0, y gets evaluated as 1.

Yes, you can divide by 0 and get an answer other than undefined.

Both of you should know better! :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 7, 2007 01:41 PM

Look what you said though; "as x approaches 0". So in this case, you are not actually dividing by zero, but an infinitely small number approaching zero.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:48 PM

O...M...G How many posts can actually be dedicated to dividing by zero?

Even the trolls are having problems coming up with material. And the lawyers are all but silent.

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2007 1:50 PM

Look what you said though; "as x approaches 0". So in this case, you are not actually dividing by zero, but an infinitely small number approaching zero.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 01:48 PM

So, do two objects really ever acutally collide? Or are they approching each other in very finite steps? The definition of collision is that two objects share the same space.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:52 PM

Here's something funny. I work for a government agency. I started an order for business cards in mid-March. I just got an update that they will arrive at some office on the 9th. They will then be sent to my AO. Then I get them. 2 months and 4 hands?

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2007 1:53 PM

O...M...G How many posts can actually be dedicated to dividing by zero?

Even the trolls are having problems coming up with material. And the lawyers are all but silent.

Posted by: atb | May 7, 2007 01:50 PM

That is because lawyers only count in the thousands! Like my retainer is $10,000 and my hourly rate is ...

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 1:53 PM

Ok, not to really confuse people but there is division by zero in the complex plane. And the answer is defined but it is complex infinity. So again, you are not getting a real number. But in Chris' example, he was trying to divide real numbers by zero which is undefined.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 1:54 PM

This is such a dumb idea I can't even bother to comment on it.

Posted by: m | May 7, 2007 1:54 PM

"My point is that you are wrong. They know exactly what your take home pay number is, they write the checks. They also know what deductions you claiming, they file the W-4."

I work for a federal agency. Our payroll is contracted out to a different federal agency in a different state. Any withholding changes for state and/or federal tax are done online. Immediate supervisor can find out gross pay based on Grade/Step on the pay scale, but I don't see how they would find out the other information.

Posted by: huh? | May 7, 2007 1:54 PM

Look what you said though; "as x approaches 0". So in this case, you are not actually dividing by zero, but an infinitely small number approaching zero.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 01:48 PM

So, do two objects really ever acutally collide? Or are they approching each other in very finite steps? The definition of collision is that two objects share the same space.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 01:52 PM
From a mathematicians point of view, the numbers do not take up space to begin with. So they never physically collide. Again, why are we discussing math? Is todays topic so horrible we are all discussing 8 th grade math?

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 1:56 PM

"Is todays topic so horrible we are all discussing 8 th grade math?"

Yes.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 2:00 PM

but I don't see how they would find out the other information.

Posted by: huh? | May 7, 2007 01:54 PM

While I was saying that the employer has all the info to make this happen, it isn;t even necessary.

Just determine the raise as they would before and reduce the raise for female employees by a percentage to offset the lower tax rate. The take home pay will take care of itself.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 2:00 PM

"Mona-- I noticed you didn't list "prisons" in there-- any particular reason? Seems men "use" prisons far more often than women . . .

Posted by: Jen | May 7, 2007 12:07 PM"

Good point--there was no reason I excluded prisons; I just listed the first things that came to my mind. Great observation, though; I wonder if there was some unconscious reason I listed services largely used by women. Hmm. Something to think about.

Posted by: Mona | May 7, 2007 2:01 PM

"Is todays topic so horrible we are all discussing 8 th grade math?"

Yes.


Posted by: | May 7, 2007 02:00 PM

Yes, it is so bad that even the hardcore femimnists disagree with her.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 2:02 PM

I was not attempting to divide by zero, I was instructing people to do so in order to post in accordance with new laws modeled on revised tax code. Obviously you are all taking exemptions. ;-P
Again, this was intended as a jo...oh, nevermind, it beats today's topic. Have at it.

I theorize you can have success nailing jello to trees... if you use a hippie as a nail. ;-P

----
Chuck Norris is exempt from the laws of mere mortals, and thus can divide by zero.

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 2:08 PM

If Leslie thinks that this is a great idea, then my opinion of Wharton just went to sh$t!

Posted by: da truth | May 7, 2007 2:09 PM

Oh yipee. Another tax "break" I can't take advantage of thanks to the Alternative Minimum Tax. lol

Posted by: Overtaxed | May 7, 2007 2:10 PM

Foamy, you are a tough cookie.

Here's a math question that appeared in my 5th grade math book as a brain teaser. if you Are smarter than a 5th grader, then you should be able to answer this one:

On an analog clock, at 12:00 the minute and hour hand are exactly aligned. Exactly how much time will elapse before they become exactly alined again?

Hint, the answer needs to be exact, and it is not 1 hour 5 minutes or 1 hour 6 minutes.

I'm willing to bet that a woman will answer this one before a man does proving that they are the more intelligent gender.

I will post the answer tomorrow if nobody gets it. Hopefully, someone on here is smarter than a 5th grader! :-)

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 7, 2007 2:10 PM

Chris: They were just having some fun with you.

I am sorry I missed Vasectomy day. Sounds like it was some interesting conversation.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 2:10 PM

"Is todays topic so horrible we are all discussing 8 th grade math?"

Yes.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 02:00 PM


You wouldn't need to go over this again if you paid better attention in class when you were 13.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 2:15 PM

foamgnome, oh, I know, me too.

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 2:15 PM

I believe the answer is one hour 5 minutes and 27.273 seconds or 11 times in every 12 hour cycle.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 2:15 PM

In case you hadn't noticed Chuck Norris is OLD!!!!!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 2:16 PM

but Chuck can still kick a**

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 2:17 PM

My son is a huge fan of Chuck Norris "facts"; his favorites include:

Chuck Norris has counted to infinity - twice.

Chuck Norris' tears cure cancer. Too bad he has never cried.

Chuck Norris was originally cast as the main character in 24, but was replaced by the producers when he managed to kill every terrorist and save the day in 12 minutes and 37 seconds.

Chuck Norris owns the greatest Poker Face of all-time. It helped him win the 1983 World Series of Poker despite him holding just a Joker, a Get out of Jail Free Monopoly card, a 2 of clubs, 7 of spades and a green #4 card from the game Uno.

Superman owns a pair of Chuck Norris pajamas.

Posted by: Army Brat | May 7, 2007 2:22 PM

Foamy, I haven't checked the decimal accuracy of the seconds, but your every 12 / 11 hour is exactly correct.

I must say, "very impressive!", and thanks for helping me make my case that women are smarter than men.

Posted by: Father of 4 | May 7, 2007 2:25 PM

Father of 4, just 1 second. That's how long it takes me to spin the dial around with my fingers.

Alternatively, as we are talking about an analog system, the minute hand would not have moved until the second hand had moved to a specific point- therefore the point at which the minute and hour hands would be exactly aligned again would be at 12:00:01- 12:00:XX where XX is equal to the point at which the gear is triggered to move the minute hand forward. I can say "again" because each point in time is different, despite what the clock subjectively declares. Also, were the observer traveling at the speed of light...

;-P The sphynx, thus beffudled, let me go.

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 2:25 PM

To altmom and all discussing taxes, I was talking about the fair tax while calling it the flat tax. Huge mistake--I apologize for the confusion. I obviously did not eat my Wheaties this morning.

altmom, I'm curious about your party affiliation (it's rare to meet another person who supports the fair tax). I'm a democrat, FWIW.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 2:27 PM

fo4: I actually thought it a little differently. I figured there are 60 seconds in a minute, 60 minutes in an hour, and 12 hours in a cycle. That makes it 43200 seconds divided by the 11 possible alignments. So 39727.2727 seconds=Which is 65.45 minutes. Which is 1 hour five minutes and 27.272 (repeating) seconds. I believe my math is correct.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 2:30 PM

OK, with all this math talk, I forgot. What is the difference between the fair tax and the flat tax?

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 2:31 PM

Meesh, good thing you didn't eat your wheaties-

Someone peed in the wheaties earlier.

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 2:32 PM

"And the lawyers are all but silent."

That's because Laura did such a good job so early in the day summing up the logical and legal problems with this idea. Sometimes even lawyers know when to say when - unless we're getting paid by the hour, of course. :)

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 2:37 PM

Chris, LOL!!!! Too funny.

Foamgnome, the fair tax is the increased sales tax with no income tax. The flat tax is a nationwide income tax rate (to get rid of those tax brackets).

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 2:37 PM

Foamgnome, the fair tax is the increased sales tax with no income tax.
Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 02:37 PM

How much do the proponents of this system say the sales tax must be to create the equivalent revenue of the current income tax?

The fair tax sounds highly reqressive and the least fair of them all.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 2:42 PM

An "increased sales tax with no income tax" is regressive, because lower-income people *generally* pay a higher percentage of their income on basics than the wealthy. Calling it a "fair" tax is like putting lipstick on a pig.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 2:42 PM

"Army Brat and others, why do you think a company wants to manage employee compensation at the "take home pay" level? I don't understand the logic there."

You've clearly never worked for a company that doesn't offer a 401k (or a company that doesn't offer flexible pre-tax spending plans or pre-tax health/life insurance).

Most individuals would value a $147K salary with a 401k (even with company matching contributions) higher than a salary of $150k without a 401k. Why? After-tax income is what really matters.

As others have indicated, the tax plan described by Leslie would lead employers to reduce women's salary be an equivalent amount.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 2:49 PM

It's 23%. Read about it at http://www.fairtax.org/site/PageServer

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 2:57 PM

In the fair tax system, is the purchase of stocks, bonds, cds and other investments also taxed at 23%? It seems only fair to tax the investments as well as ordinary purchases. If you exclude investment purchases, it unfairly helps the rich who can shelter their money in investments. While the poor need to spend their money just to eat and live on.

Posted by: foamgnome | May 7, 2007 3:01 PM

Whether you call it a "flat" tax or a "fair" tax, it's still regressive. Keep the progressive income tax, and retract (or let lapse) the temporary tax cuts for the wealthy.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 3:04 PM

Mona, I imagine that when it is all "added up" women perhaps do "cost" society more than men do-- but aren't we worth it?

but seriously, I think SAHMs not contributing social security taxes and income taxes, etc. is one of the biggest factors of tax code unfairness -- i.e. unfair because women how haven't worked for money are still eligible to collect income in their old age and they live generally longer than their husbands who did work, so they get much more money from the system than they put in to it. But what can be done about it? I don't want moms that stayed at home to raise kids to end up living on the streets in utter poverty. the way I try to look at it is that these women were indirectly contributing money into the system by providing the support that allowed (or allows) their husbands to make more money than they otherwise would have which is then collected (partially) in taxes. It isn't entirely satisfactory, but . . . I think in a generation or two the stay at home parent who later collects social security will be more gender neutral.

another possible example of gender disperaty in tax dollar spending-- military. I bet employment of military is almost as male heavy as the prison population. What can be done about it? i realize lots of women are in the armed forces and the armed forces hires and promotes and PAYS in very gender neutral ways, but the reality of the situation is that women are generally not as interested in making a career in the military as men are. Wars seem to be great employment opportunities for men. what can be done? how about cutting federal spending for the armed forces and increasing spending in Peace Corp and other projects that help "Wage peace"? I bet employment in Peace corp is much more balanced than in military.

Posted by: Jen | May 7, 2007 3:07 PM

why not a regressive tax? -- those paying a higher proportion are utilzing a higher proportion of services. this whole issue illustrates the problem of taxing income.

Posted by: regressive tax | May 7, 2007 3:12 PM

" how about cutting federal spending for the armed forces and increasing spending in Peace Corp and other projects that help "Wage peace"?"

Uh-oh, sounds like someone wants to wear a burka. j/k, sort of ;-P Cutting defense spending would be one of the last great mistakes of this country. It is one thing to be for peace, another to blindly ignore the all-too-real threats that face you. Sometimes you do in fact have to fight. This is by no means justification in any way shape or form for either party to wage a war without a real reason, just saying that cutting military spending at this time would be bad, very bad. Especially when most equipment is already outdated or ineffective. I think it needs better management, not cut. /rant


Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 3:16 PM

the confidence with which everyone is spouting their uninformed or baseless opinions on everything other than the math - the one topic on which several commenters are qualified to hold forth- is astounding even for this blog.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:18 PM

To regressive tax: Perhaps you'd like to bring back the poorhouses of the Dickensian era, too?

Cultural Tidbit of the Day: You'd love the Kurt Weill/Bertold Brecht opera "The Rise and Fall of the City of Mahoganny," where the only crime is being poor.

Posted by: catlady | May 7, 2007 3:18 PM

Meesh, I am mostly a libertarian, but I fully support the iraq/al qaeda war.
The fairtax is *hugely* supported in georgia, rep linder from ga is the sponsor in the house. There is a fairtax rally in sc for the debate this wednesday. So it is not unusual at all to find supporters inga for it.
It is a great way to tax people without having everyone treat themselves like their own corporation, so companies can be more efficient in their business dealing (ie make the best decisions, not based on something artificial like taxes). There is so much good (and so much bad in our current system). Yes, it will be complicated, but for consumers it will not be.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 3:20 PM

Mona, I imagine that when it is all "added up" women perhaps do "cost" society more than men do...

This is a ridiculous thing to argue about, but consider - What's the breakdown of violent criminals by gender? What is the cost of that crime, deterent, enforcement and incarceration?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:20 PM

Mona, I imagine that when it is all "added up" women perhaps do "cost" society more than men do...

This is a ridiculous thing to argue about, but consider - What's the breakdown of violent criminals by gender? What is the cost of that crime, deterent, enforcement and incarceration?

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 03:20 PM

Surely they all had bad moms who worked or didn't pay attention to them, therefore it is womens' fault. Remember, it all started with Eve. ;-P

Posted by: Chris | May 7, 2007 3:23 PM


"the confidence with which everyone is spouting their uninformed or baseless opinions on everything other than the math..."

Try "some" people spouting off their opinions. Some of us (meaning probably only me) actually read the document referred to in the blog article and made some comments on it. That coupled with college level educations on economics allow some people to comment.

Use a narrower brush next time!

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 3:24 PM

"You've clearly never worked for a company that doesn't offer a 401k (or a company that doesn't offer flexible pre-tax spending plans or pre-tax health/life insurance).

Most individuals would value a $147K salary with a 401k (even with company matching contributions) higher than a salary of $150k without a 401k. Why? After-tax income is what really matters."

Whether Army Brat has or hasn't worked for such a company is irrelevant, so there's no need for you to pontificate on his job history.

My employer offered a Keogh contribution to employee 401(k)s for years, and it was worth approx. $13 - $18K per year -- until entry level employees started accepting our competitors marginally higher salary offers with no Keogh contribution. After 2 years of not attracting the percentage of talent we wanted, we adjusted our compensation to match our competitors. We still offer a 401(k), but there is no Keogh and no matching employer contribution for new employees. Guess what? Acceptances have spiked and market studies of our target talent pool show that the perception in the marketplace is that we (now) are paying at or above market.

Don't assume that the masses act on things we all "know". Higher salary numbers appeal at a gut emotional level to many, many individuals.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:24 PM

Aren't about 90% of US prisoners male? How many of them had absentee fathers?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:25 PM

While we are at it, how about free bras?Puleeezze! Another whiff of a topic.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 3:25 PM

"While we are at it, how about free bras?"

You mean so we can burn them? Awesome!!

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 3:29 PM

How about free jock straps?

Posted by: To pATRICK | May 7, 2007 3:29 PM

As a woman in a male dominated field, I am against this policy. I make just as much as my colleagues and twice as much as my hubby. I don't want this change to occur so people can start feeling bad for me. Do I need to fight a little more to get to thte top? Yes, but it is making me a stronger person and I am happy for that. I don't want a hand-out thank you very much!!

Posted by: Thought | May 7, 2007 3:29 PM

Only if the free bras are nursing compatible!

Posted by: Fred | May 7, 2007 3:31 PM

"Is todays topic so horrible we are all discussing 8 th grade math?"

Yes.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 02:00 PM


You wouldn't need to go over this again if you paid better attention in class when you were 13.


Posted by: | May 7, 2007 02:15 PM

I never said I needed to go over the math. I was saying yes to "Is today's topic so horrible"

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:31 PM

"How about free jock straps?"

Posted by: To pATRICK | May 7, 2007 03:29 PM "

Fine with me, send me some extra larges. By the way, I wish Leslie would put new comments at the TOP of the blog.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 3:31 PM

Meesh,

I skimmed that site and the entire scheme is based on the sme kind of BS that the one in todays blog.

They say that everyone will get a tax break. Anywhere from 82% to 25%, depending on your income.

If everyone is always paying less in every situation, how can it generate the same revenue?

From one of their PDFs; "It compares what the economy is like under the FairTax versus what it would be like if the current system were to remain in place"

The entire feasability of the FairTax is based on some economists projection of our future economy as it is affected by his great idea.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:32 PM

But you're so slow it took you 1:16 to think up this unwitty retort?

Posted by: To 3:31 | May 7, 2007 3:33 PM

"Only if the free bras are nursing compatible!"

FRED, you like a little milk with your coffee I take it.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 3:33 PM

Catlady-please browse the fairtax website. to counter the argument that those with lower incomes pay moire in taxauthe best part of this idea is the prebate. Each month everyone who is here legally will receive a prebate which is equal to the amount someone living at some income times the povert line (say, two times) would have paid in taxes. So in essence, if you are poor you will be refunded what you will be paying in taxes- so you pay NOTHING. If you're frugal, you could even get back more than you pay.

Re: investments. The reason for not taxing investments is so that you don't tax investments-that is the surest way to grow the economy. To tax only consumption works better-and for all the environmentalists, it encourages people to reduce, reuse, recycle-because once an item has been taxed, it won't be taxed again.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 3:34 PM

By the way, I wish Leslie would put new comments at the TOP of the blog.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 03:31 PM


BRILLIANT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Give this clickster the Idea of the Day award!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:34 PM

The reason for not taxing investments is so that you don't tax investments

BWAAAAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:36 PM

Thought, right on!

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 3:36 PM

"But you're so slow it took you 1:16 to think up this unwitty retort?

Posted by: To 3:31 | May 7, 2007 03:33 PM"

LOL - Not really - I just don't spend my entire day on this blog like some people.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:38 PM

So, if you live on interest and dividends, with the fair tax, you would not pay anything towards national defense, interstate highways, etc., but would expect federal relief if a hurrican hit your home?

huh?

Posted by: Fair Tax? | May 7, 2007 3:40 PM

Re: investments. The reason for not taxing investments is so that you don't tax investments-that is the surest way to grow the economy. To tax only consumption works better-and for all the environmentalists, it encourages people to reduce, reuse, recycle-because once an item has been taxed, it won't be taxed again.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 03:34 PM

I read some of the site and it seems to me that everyone in every situation pays less tax. If this is true, how can the total tax revenue be the same?

I also saw someting about having the states pay the federal government for the services they receive. Right now the revenue stream is usually from fed to state, do they intend to reverse this? If so, do they really think the states will accept it? Where do the proponents of the plan think the money the states will be required to pay is going to come from?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:42 PM

"Whether Army Brat has or hasn't worked for such a company is irrelevant, so there's no need for you to pontificate on his job history."

Umm -- for the record I thought I was agreeing with Army Brat that after-tax income was the critical measure.

"Guess what? Acceptances have spiked and market studies of our target talent pool show that the perception in the marketplace is that we (now) are paying at or above market."

I guess we have dueling market studies - we've seen the [in a high-tech field] a benefits race where pre-tax deductions like 401k and flexibible spending plan are valued by both current and potential employees higher due to their post-tax effect.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:43 PM

So in essence, if you are poor you will be refunded what you will be paying in taxes- so you pay NOTHING. If you're frugal, you could even get back more than you pay.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 03:34 PM

FYI, this is true now.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:44 PM

//So, if you live on interest and dividends, with the fair tax, you would not pay anything towards national defense, interstate highways, etc., but would expect federal relief if a hurrican hit your home?//

The point is not how you earn your money, the point is how you SPEND it. "Living on" interest means BUYING food, clothing etc, and each transaction would be taxed - it's the purchases that are taxed, not the income.

Posted by: try again | May 7, 2007 3:45 PM

I don't know what men cost society regarding prisons system-- that was what I asked Mona earlier and she doesn't know either.

I agree that it is ridiculous/impossible to argue whether men or women cost society more-- what if men "cost" society more, but they also "bring in" more money? Above I mentioned men bringing in more money that women because the SAHM provides the invisible support system that allows such men to earn more money-- but there is also the real possiblity that men earn more because gender discrimination is alive and well -- or that women just naturally tend to take more time off from work because they NEED time to recover from childbirth unlike fathers.


chris, I think the military employment can be cut back-- we don't need more soldiers, we need better generals who fight smarter. I can't help but think that if those young people who were enlisting in the military were instead urged to "enlist" in Peace corps, the world would be a much safer place and America's standing would be much more secure. I don't want the military to be cut completely-- but what is there should be absolutely top of the line the very best.

Posted by: Jen | May 7, 2007 3:46 PM

To 3:32

Okay-only those people who actually pay taxes now will get a tax break. All those people who earn all that income and do not report it to the IRS will *now* pay taxes. They will be forced to. *that* is how it will work. Not only that, but the almost 1 trillion dollars we pay in tax compliance will be put to better use

The top economists have come up with this. Try attacking the actual plan rather than saying it is a scheme then disregarding it out of hand. Tell us what you actually don't like. I like the simplicity and the fact that politicians will no longer have as much power. That will go back to the people.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 3:47 PM

Thank you for capitalizing to help my poor widdle head.

The point is that the young and poor will see a pre-bate (another large bureaucracy).

The middle aged and middle class will shoulder the burden.

We know that advertisers pay higher fees to reach the 26-54 year olds, becasue of their increased spending on discretionary items.

Again this means that if you are 54+, you will spend less, pay less tax, yet expect the same services?

btw...the rich part of their book was when they would apply this new tax on new homes, but not resales. Guaranteed to stop construction, drive out construction jobs, lumber/paint/fixture manufacturers, and the downstream support they need (7-11s, schools, etc.).

Posted by: Try again, try again | May 7, 2007 3:58 PM

3:32, it works because people who are hiding their income (not paying taxes by putting income overseas or just plain not reporting it) will be forced to pay. This includes the incredibly wealthy, the illegal immigrants, the drug dealers, and various other crinimals who have cheated the system. That's a lot of money.

And as a thinking person, you can feel free to ignore the obvious car salesman tactics on their Web site and look at the facts.

For the other questions, I'm not 100%. I'm sure the Web site can answer them.

Posted by: Meesh | May 7, 2007 3:58 PM

chris, I think the military employment can be cut back-- we don't need more soldiers, we need better generals who fight smarter. I can't help but think that if those young people who were enlisting in the military were instead urged to "enlist" in Peace corps, the world would be a much safer place and America's standing would be much more secure. I don't want the military to be cut completely-- but what is there should be absolutely top of the line the very best."

Hmm, this one is too easy. I will pass. Like kicking a puppy.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 3:59 PM

When the this become the Math Geeks blog?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 3:59 PM

Atlmom and Meesh,

I think the fairtax idea is intriguing, but do you really think that we'd be able to resist the urge to tinker with it for various social purposes? It seems like using tax breaks to further various social goals is so entrenched, and so powerful, it would be hard to keep it from happening - lower tax rates for buying renewable energy, for daycare, etc etc. Does that possibility bother you at all, or do you think it wouldn't happen, or would happen in a way that's more transparent and therefore less troubling? Just curious.

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 4:01 PM

The top economists have come up with this. Try attacking the actual plan rather than saying it is a scheme then disregarding it out of hand. Tell us what you actually don't like. I like the simplicity and the fact that politicians will no longer have as much power. That will go back to the people.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 03:47 PM

And it's been said that economists have accurately predicted the 7 of the last 2 recessions.

I have read some of the plan and I don't believe that it is revenue neutral. They base the neutrality on the future gains of the economy as determined by the same economists that want the FarTax. In order to be revenue nuetral, and exclude all the things they want to exclude (everything used or for busines), I think the rate is would have to be closer to 50% than 25%.

For example in one place they state that the base of expenditures (what they want to tax) and the base for revenue (currently taxed) is ten (don't remember the exact multiplier) times larger. So they say 23% would equal the total revenue currently taken in. But that base includes a lot of expentitures that would not be taxed under FairTax since we don't currently separate business expenses or expenses on used good.

The assumption that corporations will pass the tax/compliance savings on to the consumer is naive enough make me think they have their heads where the sun don't shine.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 4:05 PM

regarding this fairtax-- would it only tax items purchased in US? seems like people would avoid it by just buying stuff from canada/mexico, etc and having it shipped in? Lots of people are already doing that for medication. Or would there be additional measures in place to stop such "gray market" purchasing? But would that go against NAFTA? Stifle free trade? Just curious . . .

Posted by: Jen | May 7, 2007 4:07 PM

I don't know how I feel about the "fair tax," but FWIW it's true it wasn't just dreamed up by crackpots. My tax prof in law school, a very well respected and entirely sane person, has written in support of it. So it's probably worth at least giving the idea some sober consideration.

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 4:08 PM

But that is the beauty of it, megan. No deductions for anything and you get to keep one hundred percent of your income. So anything you choose to spend it on is before tax income.
If you want to subsidize itan do it-dont engineer a ridiculously complex system that no one really understands so you can create fear in the people to comply. The reality is that our tax code is so complex that people who study tax law *and the irs* don't even understand it all. So a simple to use system is key. Then we the people, most definitely, need to be vigilant that the tax code doesn't get this complex again.

Living in a republic takes a lot of responsibility-so yes we will still need to monitor the reps we send to washington.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 4:15 PM

"But that is the beauty of it, megan. No deductions for anything and you get to keep one hundred percent of your income. So anything you choose to spend it on is before tax income."

I know that is the beauty initially, but don't you think that a year or two down the road there will be proposals for amendments? That's really what I'm getting at - how it will be changed and contorted the same way this one has been.

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 4:18 PM

It will shaft poor people. I am sure that the BUFFET'S of the world will giggle in glee.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 4:22 PM

So it's probably worth at least giving the idea some sober consideration.

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 04:08 PM

I agree, but the site on the web is entirely as someone said above "used car sales tactics". And as a result, it is hard to take it seriously. To have a tax system with no downsides, seems unrealistic.

I think that, in the real world, in order for a federal sales tax to work (be revenue neutral), it would need to be higher than 23%.

They have also moved the responibilty for the collection of taxes to the states. Who is going to pay for this added bureacracy? Some states don't even have
a sales tax, so this would be entirely new government for them.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 4:22 PM

The top economists have come up with this. Try attacking the actual plan rather than saying it is a scheme then disregarding it out of hand. Tell us what you actually don't like. I like the simplicity and the fact that politicians will no longer have as much power. That will go back to the people.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 03:47 PM

It sounds great until you begin to appreciate that our tax code incentivizes charitable donations which support organizations doing a tremendous amount of good, home ownership which allows people to escape generations of poverty, economic revitalization in poor neighborhoods, investment in environmentally positive and extraordinarily expensive manufacturing equipment and facilities' improvements, and many other public policies? It's fine to say, simplify, simplify, but as always a little appreciation for the unintended consequences of so vast a change is advised.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 4:24 PM

No deductions for charitable donations, like to churches and non-profits?

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 4:27 PM

To 4:05: however , if the rate needs to be fifty percent then so be it. I would rather a more transparent system than the one we have now where you don't have any idea what your taxes are. At that point we would actually learn how much they are taking from us and maybe then people will get angry about the waste. As for out of the country stuff-i guess I don't know exactly. There are people who will try to cheat any system but really it will be more difficult than what you think. You are not likely to not go down to the drugstore and buy shampoo, etc. Most people will end up paying the tax. I don't care if a company doesn't pass on a tax savings(but in order to compete, they probably will).
I want a simpler system. I think that yes, they seem to want to dwell on the things that supposedly will happen rather than dwelling on the simplicity of it.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 4:29 PM

"Top" economists have come up with all sorts of crackpot notions of all political stripes so I'm not the least impressed what a "top" economist thinks.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 4:30 PM

Enough of this idiocy. If you work continuously in the workplace and don't take time off to be a parent, have the same kind of educational credentials, work the same kind of job -- you earn the same kind of money. That is what the studies consistently show (notwithstanding the paper you showcased last week). This "79%" disparity is not a disparity at all -- it is the result of choices women make about when to work, what jobs to take, etc.

The so-called "marriage penalty" is also pure bunk. What you want is a "marriage advantage" for people who earn two high incomes. There is a good way to end the "marriage penalty" -- only allow individuals to file tax returns, eliminate the dual filer status altogether. What you earn, you are taxed on. End the deductions (no need to figure out how to parcel out the home mortgage deduction) and lower the rates. Anything else is, in reality, a penalty on single tax filers who are forced to subsidize the taxes for double filers.

Stop asking for something "special." Since I die younger than women do, how about reducing my taxes to compensate me for that? That is only "fair" afterall . . . yeah, its BS, as is this notion of higher tax rates based on gender. Do you really expect people to choke down some notion that Paris Hilton is due a tax rate lower than mine just because she is female?!?!

Posted by: Colorado Kool Aid | May 7, 2007 4:34 PM

If you want to subsidize itan do it-dont engineer a ridiculously complex system that no one really understands so you can create fear in the people to comply. The reality is that our tax code is so complex that people who study tax law *and the irs* don't even understand it all. So a simple to use system is key.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 04:15 PM

The current system is complex, but not to the average citizen. I filled out the 1040EZ for the longest time. And now, the tax system is real simple to me, I give my docs to the accountant with a check and he gives me the return.

And who says simple is better.

So if there is "no fear to comply", what is going to make the collectors of the sales tax pay? Big stores like taget walmart will pay, but who is going to check the mom and pop store down the street?

With this type of scheme, you won't have the people working under the table, you will have companies doing it. My landscaper (if I had one) will say $100 cash or $123 check.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 4:37 PM

Good heavens, people! I teach FOURTH-grade math -- and students are taught that you can't divide by zero in THIRD grade, when they memorize their multiplication facts!! Of course, we don't try to nail Jell-o to a tree until fifth grade, and cat-herding is obviously a middle-school skill.

I'm glad that it only took you folks till noon to start arguing about what I wrote at 8:30:
**Corporations will then pay women less, and justify their decision by pointing out that a woman's take-home pay is still the same, so she's not losing any money.
While women will be be offered better positions because of the downward pressure on wages, that pressure damages the economy as a whole.
There will be legal justification for gender-based pay scales, work rules, and so on.
I don't see the pay gap narrowing as a result; I see it widening or, at best, remaining static.**

If the posters on this blog are any indication, I don't think we need to worry -- this idea will never get traction. Then again, one never goes broke underestimating the gullibility of the average American.

Posted by: educmom | May 7, 2007 4:48 PM

I don't think many people give to charity looking for a deduction. And guess what? It will be deducted, since all the money you have is not taxed.

Currently, states pay retailers a certain percentage of the sales tax to collect the tax-that is included in this plan.

And I do believe that simplifications is good. If you want the things described pay for them out of general revenue-dont distort something that is supposed to be for collection of revenue and make it into a social engineering experiment.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 4:49 PM

to: 4:37 pm
Actually, your landscaper will have no incentive to do that, because he will pay taxes on what he spends, not what he earns.
You will have an incentive to do that. In either case, there will have to be a system of random invoice/receipt checks. VAT countries have that already, but admittedly it does not work so well with services as with goods.

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 4:52 PM

To 4:05: however , if the rate needs to be fifty percent then so be it. I would rather a more transparent system than the one we have now where you don't have any idea what your taxes are. At that point we would actually learn how much they are taking from us and maybe then people will get angry about the waste. As for out of the country stuff-i guess I don't know exactly. There are people who will try to cheat any system but really it will be more difficult than what you think. You are not likely to not go down to the drugstore and buy shampoo, etc. Most people will end up paying the tax. I don't care if a company doesn't pass on a tax savings(but in order to compete, they probably will).
I want a simpler system. I think that yes, they seem to want to dwell on the things that supposedly will happen rather than dwelling on the simplicity of it.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 04:29 PM

Have you actually ever looked at your tax return? It is really simple to figure out how much taxes you pay. If you look at you paycheck, you can figure out how much went to FICA and medicare.

With this system, you will have even less of an idea how much you have paid in taxes by the end of the year. Are you going to add up the thousands of transactions we make every year? What it will create is the feeling that the government is taking money from me every minute of every day.

Do you think the general population would even consider this plan if they knew the rate would be 50%?

This is a government of the people, there is no "they" taking our money. "We" are taking our own money. If you think a more transparent system will reduce the waste, you're on crack. The government will still have the same amount of money to spend as they see fit. It says so in the proposal. (revenue neutral remember?)

If you want to reduce waste, the complex system you should be worried about is the federal budget. Which nobody even reads, let alone understands.

And as for buying shampoo out of the country, it is as simple a click of a mouse. If I run out, I am not going to go to Canada to get a new bottle, but for the next one, I could.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 4:54 PM

"Ten years after graduation, women fall further behind, earning 69 percent of what men earn. A 12 percent gap appeared even when the AAUW Educational Foundation, which did the research, controlled for hours, occupation, parenthood and other factors known to directly affect earnings."

From Amy Joyce's column.

Posted by: to Colorado Kool Aid | May 7, 2007 4:54 PM

I think a LOT of people would order toothpaste and all their other stuff online through amazon-- or an amazon.can or amazon.mex--if it would save them 25%-- and especially 50%-- over going to the market. and why not-- I HATE shopping anyway and the idea of just having everything shipped instead is already very appealing to me.

And certainly the farmer's market would become VERY popular for the black market opportunities it would permit for grocery shopping.

So I think there could be lots of tax avasion with this fairtax, but on the other hand, increasing shipping of items from outside US and increasing traffic at farmers' markets could have a lot of benefits to society-- maybe the shipping of non-perishables to the consumers doorstep is more efficient anyway and direct support of farmers could be better for environment. Such a tax scheme would certainly increase interest in CSAs-- community supported agriculture-- where the consumer buys a share of the upcoming crop from the farmer who then delivers the veggies directly to all the share holders. Sounds like with FairTax one would easily avoid paying taxes on your food budget this way because "investments" are not taxed and purchasing a food share is an investment (you and the farmer don't really know whether there will be a bumper crop or a bust in the coming year and that risk makes it an investment and not a purchase, right?)

Posted by: Jen | May 7, 2007 4:56 PM

To 4:05: however , if the rate needs to be fifty percent then so be it. I would rather a more transparent system than the one we have now where you don't have any idea what your taxes are."

50 Percent??!!! Over my dead body will I condemn my children to be wage slaves of the us govt. 50 percent! You would see a revolution!

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 4:57 PM

pATRICK, as I already said I don't know how I feel about the fair tax idea, but your reaction is pretty irrational.
Say you make $100K right now. You probably take home about $70-75K.
Under the fair tax idea, you take home $100K. You would then have to spend 60K of that 100K on things other than basics (e.g., food) in order to be in the same situation. I don't know about you, but that seems kind of hard.

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 5:02 PM

to: 4:37 pm
Actually, your landscaper will have no incentive to do that, because he will pay taxes on what he spends, not what he earns.

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 04:52 PM

His incentive is getting my business! But he is responsible for paying the tax he collects to the government (not the IRS, since they have been abolished) so he sees a little incentive in reduced paperwork. And, remember, if it is a business expense, it is not taxable under this system.

Which makes me wonder, if the landscaper works for other businesses, are those services not taxed since they are business expense? This system really benefits business far more than the citizen.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 5:02 PM

Atlmom, I tend to agree that the complexity of our tax code is problematic - I think it favors the wealthy (who have the money and incentive to pay someone to find all the various deductions etc as opposed to those of us who just fill out the EZ and be done with it) and also does hide the ways we subsidize various industries etc.

But I think the questions raised as to what other types of complexities and incentives such a system would provide, and how it would be enforced, are valid and go to the heart of whether this system would be any more fair than the one we've got.

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 5:05 PM

This OnBalance "article" was just silly.

Posted by: KBJ | May 7, 2007 5:05 PM

From Amy Joyce's column.

Posted by: to Colorado Kool Aid | May 7, 2007 04:54 PM

Which she took from the AAUW. Hardly an unbaised group of people. Have you read their work? Most of their research used to control for "hours, occupation, parenthood and other factors known to directly affect earnings" is almost all self reported. Other people have done the same thing as they did and came up with 95%.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 5:07 PM

Are you related to Cream of the Crop?

And why is it that it's rich folks like Stephen Forbes who are the ones most enthusiastic about the flat tax? Maybe because they'll make out the best, at the expense (literally) of average-income and poor people.

Posted by: To top law | May 7, 2007 5:07 PM

What you described to pATRICK is just a shell game.

Posted by: To top law | May 7, 2007 5:10 PM

You would then have to spend 60K of that 100K on things other than basics (e.g., food) in order to be in the same situation. I don't know about you, but that seems kind of hard.

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 05:02 PM

But under this system, everything costs at least 25% more. Wouldn't be that hard.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 5:11 PM

To 4:05: however , if the rate needs to be fifty percent then so be it. I would rather a more transparent system than the one we have now where you don't have any idea what your taxes are."

50 Percent??!!! Over my dead body will I condemn my children to be wage slaves of the us govt. 50 percent! You would see a revolution!

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 04:57 PM

The thing is, she is willing to pay 50% and she will know even less about how much tax she pays.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 5:14 PM

And why is it that it's rich folks like Stephen Forbes who are the ones most enthusiastic about the flat tax"

I will defer to Chris Rock the comedian who said it best: "When you make 50 million and someone takes 25 million, that ain't that bad, when you make 30 thousand and someone takes 15 thousand , now that's a b*tch!" With all apologies to Mr. Rock who was much more eloquent than I was.

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 5:19 PM

Other people have done the same thing as they did and came up with 95%.

Posted by: | May 7, 2007 05:07 PM

Coloraod Kool Aid thinks its because they didn't control for the variables, and he's wrong. That's my point. Argue the quality and bias issues all you want, but at least get the facts of what they did right.

Posted by: to to Colorado Kool Aid | May 7, 2007 5:21 PM

And why is it that it's rich folks like Stephen Forbes who are the ones most enthusiastic about the flat tax"

-somebody

I am not rich, but th flat tax seems far more workable than the FairTax. The flat tax would sort of be like hitting the reset button on the IRS.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 5:22 PM

You need to re-read the Chris Rock quote.

Posted by: To 5:22 | May 7, 2007 5:26 PM

Argue the quality and bias issues all you want, but at least get the facts of what they did right.

Posted by: to to Colorado Kool Aid | May 7, 2007 05:21 PM

"to Colorado Kool Aid" said that tha AAUW did control for other variables and came up with 69%. I (anon) was saying the AAUW are not the only ones who have done controlled studies on this data and that the 69% is probably wrong too.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 5:27 PM

You need to re-read the Chris Rock quote.

Posted by: To 5:22 | May 7, 2007 05:26 PM

I wasn't responding to the Chris Rock quote, but the quote that inspired it.

I think a flat tax could be workable with some thought put into its implementation at lower incomes. The FairTax is too drastic of a change to be workable and the outcome is entirely unknown.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 7, 2007 5:32 PM

"You need to re-read the Chris Rock quote"

It was a paraphrase on his alimony musings but seemed appropriate to this conversation. Is that all you had to offer?

Posted by: pATRICK | May 7, 2007 5:32 PM

I was AGREEING with you on the Chris Rock quote. It's the other poster who challenged you who needs to re-read it.

Posted by: To pATRICK | May 7, 2007 5:36 PM

This is the person I was thinking about. It looks like his proposed system is a bit of a hybrid.

http://www.law.yale.edu/graetzhome/tax%20reform/tax_reform.htm

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 5:39 PM

Oooh, let's all bow down to Yale, and let them tell us how to get ourselves f***ed, I mean taxed, so they don't have to pay as much taxes.

Posted by: To top law | May 7, 2007 5:45 PM

to: to top law
Do you have a criticism about M. Graetz's plan other than that the person who thought it up happens to teach at Yale?

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 5:47 PM

Yalies are elitists who serve the best interests of other elitists, not the average person. Exhibit A, George W. Bush.

Posted by: To top law | May 7, 2007 5:52 PM

to: to top law
Oh for god's sake -- really? George W., who is booed whenever he ventures onto campus, is your sample Yalie?
For your information, Yale Law School is one of the most liberal places in the country. The current dean, Harold Hongjiu Koh, has been a human rights advocate for practically his entire adult existence. Bill and Hillary Clinton went there. This has nothing at all to do with the feasibility of wisdom of Michael Graetz's tax reform plan, of course. But this knee-jerk anti-intellectualism is just bulls***.

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 5:56 PM

Okay, I disagree with just about every last one of you today. Feels like having a big fight with your entire family at Thanksgiving.

You are all wrong!!!!

This is a great idea!!!!

I really, really wish that I and all other women got taxed at a lower rate. Then maybe we wouldn't be so pissed at our husbands. This could actually solve a lot of very big problems, and save on marriage counseling, among other things.

I need to stomp up the stairs and slam a few doors. See you tomorrow --

Posted by: Leslie | May 7, 2007 5:59 PM

knee-jerk anti-intellectualism? So you admit you ARE an elitist. End of argument.

Posted by: To top law | May 7, 2007 6:01 PM

"I really, really wish that I and all other women got taxed at a lower rate. Then maybe we wouldn't be so pissed at our husbands. This could actually solve a lot of very big problems, and save on marriage counseling, among other things."

Leslie, is this tongue in cheek? I hope?

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 6:02 PM

Leslie doesn't have a sense of humor. Once she sees it she'll have it pulled.

Posted by: To Megan | May 7, 2007 6:06 PM

I admit that the mere mention of the name "Yale" is enough for you to reject an idea out of hand.
I am not sure why this makes me an elitist; my impression is that it causes you to be unnecessarily close-minded.
I repeat that I have no particular investment in Graetz's plan. I don't know whether it would work. But I know he is a smart and very well-respected guy and I thought it might be interesting to see what people here thought.
If all you think is "the guy teaches at Yale, therefore he must be an elitist ass who wants to hoodwink me into giving him more of my money, and I will not even risk looking at his idea lest I actually--GASP--agree with him," then I suppose that's what you think. It's a shame, though.

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 6:07 PM

Wow, today really went downhill....

Posted by: Proud Papa | May 7, 2007 6:08 PM

"the guy teaches at Yale, therefore he must be an elitist ass who wants to hoodwink me into giving him more of my money

BINGO!!!!!

Posted by: To top law | May 7, 2007 6:12 PM

Top law, I agree with what you're saying about the troll's reaction and the progressive politics of Yale Law School, but I have to say I think it's kind of funny that you're calling yourself "top law" while making those arguments. ;)

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 6:14 PM

Fair enough. I called myself that initially just to say that people at reputable institutions have endorsed radical tax reform plans not too dissimilar from the fair tax idea. (Is "reputable institutions" a permissible expression here as shorthand for "not crackpot"? who knows... apparently just going to college gets you flamed...)

Posted by: top law | May 7, 2007 6:20 PM

TOP law? You're right! TOp law is so clueless. Harharharharhar!!!!

Posted by: To Megan | May 7, 2007 6:21 PM

LOL, I hear that, I just couldn't resist. Hope life at law school is treating you all right.

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 6:23 PM

Out of law school, thanks, and doing badly paid public service work. :-P

Posted by: top law, uh, bottom elementary | May 7, 2007 6:25 PM

Is there any other kind of public service work? ;)

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 6:28 PM

LOL! Exactly....

Posted by: top law, uh, bottom elementary | May 7, 2007 6:29 PM

Are you kidding? Leslie, you've been out there before, but this is a new extreme.

Maybe we should start charging women for the real cost of their health care, while we're it?

Posted by: Nef | May 7, 2007 6:39 PM

Of course it was tongue-in-cheek. Sheesh!

Except for the part that this program is a great idea, despite all of you who aren't as enlightened as I am.

Posted by: Leslie | May 7, 2007 6:44 PM

Whew! I was a little worried about you for a minute there!

Posted by: Megan | May 7, 2007 6:55 PM

I can't believe this is a real proposal.

Imagine if we seriously entertained the idea of taxing men's income at lower rates than women's (for whatever social goal was deemed important by some subset of the population). Leslie would go through the roof.

There are no principles involved here, are there? It's all about how to make MY life easier, and work the system so that the rest of you will subsidize it.

Posted by: Austin reader | May 7, 2007 7:08 PM

I have to wonder if the real Leslie is posting this afternoon.

Of course, everyone wants to reduce their own taxes, but please, look at the whole picture. Everyone wants to be treated equally and fairly by the government. I haven't read any argument this proposal promotes equality or treats anyone fairly. Thus, this proposal is, and should be, DOA.

Posted by: dotted | May 7, 2007 7:19 PM

If anyone is still reading:

YOU DO NOT KNOW HOW MUCH IN TAXES YOU ARE PAYING.

You only know how much you alone are paying ON YOUR INCOME.

You do NOT know how much of EACH AND EVERY PURCHASE YOU MAKE is taxes - because corporations pay taxes - well, really, they just collect them from you and me and pass them along to the government.

So really - you DON'T know how much, each and every time you go to the store, is taxes, of each purchase you make.

So you *think* you do - and that makes you happier? What about the trillion dollars of waste it takes us as a country to actually pay our taxes? Doesn't anything think that can be put to better use?

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 8:20 PM

AND - if you buy stuff on line - you will *still* pay the tax.

Posted by: atlmom | May 7, 2007 8:22 PM

I just can't tell if Leslie is as dumb as she comes across here or just too lazy to put any real effort into this 'blog' (really it is just an old fashioned chat room with an overpaid 'author' - real bad form for a newspaper losing its traditional income base).

This idea is not only assinine - it is an insult to any serious thinker. And if you read the entire paper it is quite clear that this is a hypothetical exercise for the economist and not something they actually suggest; the social upheavel they predict would alone doom this as a serious consideration.

In any case, Leslie, you do quite a disservice to your name and hoepfully your reputation here - becuase a pedestrian journalist and author like this does not deserve any recogition.

Posted by: AA | May 7, 2007 11:09 PM

As for the flat tax - nother silly idea though one that works out well for those of us who earn more than our share.

Calculating progresive tax rates is not what complicated the tax code - it is really easy for anyone who has passed basic algebra. For those that haven't the govenrment publishes easy to read tax tables.

As noted aobve, the complexity is driven by the definition of income and a flat tax rate is not neccesary nor sufficient to fix that.

As for the 'fair' tax (a marketing name not a fair description of the tax itself) as is repeatedly noted, sales taxes are regressive. Those who earn enough to save more pay less in taxes - it increases inequality in the country and eventually leads the humble masses to revolt and take over my oversized property. I am comfortable paying more in taxes to prevent that - how about you?
OF course even if we don't care about the future revolution the fair tax still does not help us avoid compleixy; instead of defining income we now have to define sales. If you think that is any easy why don't you take an intro course on financial accounting. Of course I have enjoyed black market economies in the many countries I visit with high sales taxes and would love to have more incentive to devleop one here, but that is just me.

Now for a serious suggestion to improve our tax code - start by doing away with the mortgage deduction (phased out over a decade or so to avoid a shock to the economy). That will not only remove one of the most regressive deduction in the tax code it will also put alot more people into the standard deduction - simplifying their taxes considerably. Once that has cost me a pretty penny we can work into some of the other abusrd deduction I take every year that benedit no one but us wealthy.

Posted by: AA | May 7, 2007 11:19 PM

One last game for Leslie to consider before the next time she wades into a topic she knows little about and comprehends even less (if she even reads the comment rather than just dismiss them:
If they were to pass this tax change what I would do, and reccomend all you men out there do (and guarantee employers would think of), I would have my company employ my wife at my current salary she would then contract her job to me at say $50 a year - I'd gladly pay my higher tax rate on that $50 (though it would probably be $0 since I my income is so low) while my wife can pay the lower tax rate on her profits... Like so man others have said as a practical idea this is just stupid - I wonder what gulliable, naive 'journalist' could possibly take it seriously?

Posted by: AA | May 7, 2007 11:40 PM

Aa- you don't know about the fairtax if you think it is regressive

That is always what I would say about a sales tax. But the fair tax proposal includes a provision for a prebate-a check monthly to all people here legally equal to the amount someone at the poverty level would pay in taxes-so if you are poor you pay no taxes. That is what makes it regressive

Posted by: atlmom | May 8, 2007 8:38 AM

If anyone is still reading, I'd like to address this magical word "progressive." Our tax system now is progressive, which means that people who earn more pay more in taxes. Calling the fair tax "regressive" is wrong because everyone is taxed the same. This garbage about the "disposable" income being more for wealthy people is ridiculous. Of course they'll have more disposable income after buying essentials--THEY"RE WEALTHY.

"Progressive" programs tax the wealthy more. Is this fair? Just because these people are rich they have to pay more for the same exact government services? Do they get better roads or public buldings for the extra money they're paying? No. While we're at it, since the rich have so much money, let's charge them more for carpeting. This welfare family can get carpeting for $5, but this rich guy has to pay $50 for the same carpeting. He can obviously afford it, so why not?

People like catlady only want to be "fair" to the poor people. She calls the fair tax "regressive," which would mean that poor people are taxed more, which is absolutely wrong. Everyone is taxed the same percentage. In reality, wealthy people will pay more in taxes because they buy more. The poor will fare exactly as they do now. Now people below a certain income do not pay income taxes, but they pay sales tax. Under the fair tax, they still do not pay income tax AND they will qualify to be exempt from sales tax too!

The fair tax is fair because everyone pays the same for everything--every service and every product. The tax system now penalizes the wealthy, which encourages them to move their money out of the states. "Imagine a time when the only crime is being rich."

Posted by: Meesh | May 8, 2007 8:51 AM

Oh you've got to be kidding me. People actually think this is a good idea? This is a joke, right?

I'm short and not terribly attractive. Studies have shown that I'm likely to make less money than an attractive person. Do I get a tax break for that too? No of course not and I shouldn't get one just because I'm a woman either.

Posted by: A Working Woman | May 8, 2007 9:03 AM

Re: Progressive and regressive taxation.
YES, it is fair for wealthier people to carry more of a burden of the cost of living in a society than poor people, for the simple reason that they can afford it. I mean, really. Have we lost all sense of a communal responsibility in this country? Let's all just move to a gated community and post armed guards at the doors to keep the riffraff out.

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 9:22 AM

Discrimination against men, plain and simple. Extremely humiliating in fact. Don't think that one sane person -- whether employer or employee, woman or man -- would cooperate with such a scheme. To the extent that it can be implemented at all (unlikely), it would certainly mean the end of the government imposing it, either in the next elections or simply by force.

Posted by: D.F. | May 8, 2007 9:42 AM

"Men earn more -- the gap between wages paid women who perform the same job as men is stuck at roughly 77 cents to the dollar."

Leslie, this is the sloppiest journalism ever. The 77 cents on the dollar stat simply compares the average wages of women who work full-time with those of men who work full-time. It doesn't consider field of work, type of position, years of experience, educational background, specialty, or anything else:

http://www.census.gov/Press-Release/www/releases/archives/facts_for_features_special_editions/006232.html

For real insight as to why the 77 cent wage gap exists, read "Why Men Earn More," by Warren Farrell. Dr. Farrell is the only man in the US to have been elected three times to the Board of Directors of the National Organization for Women in New York City and was named one of the world's leading thought leaders by the Financial Times:

http://www.amazon.com/Why-Men-Earn-More-Startling/dp/0814472109/ref=pd_bbs_sr_1/104-2090405-5897569?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1178647112&sr=8-1

Posted by: MBA Mom | May 8, 2007 2:16 PM

"I'm short and not terribly attractive. Studies have shown that I'm likely to make less money than an attractive person. Do I get a tax break for that too? "

Absolutely! And pudgy, middle-age men who're losing their hair should pay the lowest taxes of all! Shoot, if they wear bermuda shorts with navy blue dress socks and leather shoes, they should get a refundable tax credit!

Posted by: Anonymous | May 8, 2007 3:31 PM

Altmon - I have seen that proposal. There are two problems with it - one is that the tax rate required to fund it and current operations (when computed by non-partisan economists) is quite high and politically untenable.

Two is that a transfer payment does not change the regressive nature of the tax. Just becasue you pay everyone more money to give them a blanket increase in income, you still will be charging a higher percentage of income in sales tax to the poor than the rich. And it will still have significant behaivioral impact for the poor and increase the incentive for black markets etc.

Meesh - There are many reasons why progressive taxation is both morally and economically desireable. For one, optimal tax theory that this paper talks about most certainly applies to income level. In simple terms the utility of the next dollar is lower for someone who already has alot of dollars. So a 30% tax on them can be equal to a 15% tax on someone with alot fewer dollars.

Another reason is that it is fair in the truest sense. Your contribution to society is part of the insurance policy you pay to maintain society (both by having a legal system that permits order and enables economic growth and by having a military that protects you from external sources). The more you have to protect the higher the insurance policy should cost.

Posted by: AA | May 8, 2007 4:55 PM

The data that these reports are based on is similar to that the Socialists' quote to make claims that corporations are evil because only 49% of their employees are provided insurance. The reports do not mention that 25% have insurance through their spouse's employer. Others have it through the military or other places. The difference in salaries between the sexes is also a myth as well as Political Correctness is good for America. Hell, let's not forget that more government involvement is good for us. RUN. Ok, how about a tax break for the short, the fat, the ha'rlip. These groups tend to earn less. This sucks. I'm goodlooking. Why don't I get paid more. Damn. I need to form a lobby group for underpaid lookers. Oh, and pay my way on our next date, huh?

Now, that aside. The perfect solution to the marriage penalty among many, many other issues is the FairTax.org. From top to bottom, economically and socially the Fair Tax will improve our country's status among world leaders. It will make the Irish Miracle look average. Now, April 15th being a normal day, that would be a miracle.
Simplyannoyed.net

Posted by: Glenn Sullivan | May 8, 2007 11:53 PM

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