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Taxes too low? Write a check to the feds.

Today, Dana Milbank reports on a different kind of tax protest -- one by wealthy liberals who think their taxes are too low:

“I'm in favor of higher taxes on people like me,” declared Eric Schoenberg, who is sitting on an investment banking fortune. He complained about "my absurdly low tax rates."

“We're calling on other wealthy taxpayers to join us,” said paper-mill heir Mike Lapham, “to send the message to Congress and President Obama that it's time to roll back the tax cuts on upper-income taxpayers.”

“I would with pleasure sacrifice the income,” agreed millionaire entrepreneur Jeffrey Hollender.

Why don’t these wealthy patriots lead by example? Why don’t they just cut a check to the federal government for the amount they think they should be paying? If you think your taxes are too high, there is little you can do about it. It would be illegal to withhold the money from the federal government. But there is no law barring Americans from paying more. As Milbank points out, the IRS even accepts credit cards.

Shoenberg claims to have donated more than $200,000 that he received in tax cuts to charity. Is he the only one of the group who did so? Did Hollander, Lapham and the others do the same? Milbank doesn’t say.

Is $200,000 the full amount Shoenberg saved from the Bush tax cuts? (He’s reportedly sitting on an “investment banking fortune.” Seems kind of low.)

And if he thinks the federal government is so wonderful, why didn’t he send all that money back to the federal treasury? Why did he choose instead to send the money to private charities? Could it be he instinctively knew the money would be more efficiently spent by the private sector?

When it comes to folks claiming their taxes are too low, look at their actions, not their rhetoric.

By Marc Thiessen  | April 7, 2010; 9:17 AM ET
Categories:  Thiessen  | Tags:  Marc Thiessen  
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Comments

That doesn't strike me as an analytically sound response.

First, I think the person objecting to taxes being too low is in large part asking the government to solve a collective action problem. $200,000 in the scheme of the federal budget is a drop in the bucket. I suspect that wealthy people who think they are being taxed too little recognize that wealthy people's money, in aggregate, could be used to solve a major societal problem like the federal deficit. The $200,000 itself would do almost nothing to solve the federal deficit problem.

Second, even if Shoenberg chose not to donate the full portion of the Bush tax cuts to charity, that may just mean that he believed that only $200,000 worth of contributions would be put to more useful purposes than he could contemplate. It does not undermine the idea that had the Bush tax cuts never been passed, the money could be put to more useful ends in the government along with all the other income from other wealthy individuals.

Posted by: pensfan3 | April 7, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Hey Thiessen, are you proud of a tax code that allows Exxon Mobil, the biggest, most profitable corporation in the history of the world to pay ZERO DOLLARS in corporate income tax?

Posted by: pepin | April 7, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Not only that, read a little about the concept of capital gains and realization of income before writing a blog on taxes. Then you won't have to simply surmise.

How long is the Post going to employ this fool?

Posted by: pepin | April 7, 2010 10:02 AM | Report abuse

These guys who think their taxes are too low should shut up, or preface their words with "I'm only speaking for myself". My total tax burden, federal, state and local, income taxes, sales tax, excise taxes etc run to 32% of my income. If you add the amount of money my employer gives the feds on my behalf (FICA, federal unemployment, state unemployment) it approaches 40%. That seems like a lot to me.After all,God only wants 10%, and he doesn't throw me in jail if I don't pay up.
My wife and I combined earn less than 75,000 a year and we pay over $29,000 in taxes.
Anyone rich liberal who thinks that's not enough is welcome to come live in my tiny 2 bedroom rented house, drive my 10 year old car and vacation this year on my front porch.

Even better, instead of maying the government more, why don't you give your workers a raise?

Posted by: bbarclay | April 7, 2010 10:26 AM | Report abuse

You sir, are a joke.

Posted by: Gover | April 7, 2010 10:48 AM | Report abuse

I would love to stand before Congress and ask for a show of hand of those who thought the "rich" were undertaxed. Then, of those same people, how many wrote a second check to the US Treasury to pay THEIR fair share. I dare say no hand would remain raised.

The US Treasury has a program in place to accept such donations. I hope all these so-called rich are participating.
www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/gift/gift.htm

Posted by: kitchendragon50 | April 7, 2010 11:02 AM | Report abuse

You're just too cute by half.

Posted by: jckdoors | April 7, 2010 11:05 AM | Report abuse

When it comes to folks claiming their taxes are too low, look at their actions, not their rhetoric. Could it be he instinctively knew the money would be more efficiently spent by the private sector? Just look at Bill Gates and Warren Buffet they give massive amounts thru the charitable giving, they know government is a not the way to proceed.


Posted by: ZebZ | April 7, 2010 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Libtards responses are truly puzzling. Just as the author said, if you think your tax is to low, write a check for the difference to Feds. And shut up.

Posted by: pihto999 | April 7, 2010 11:57 AM | Report abuse

Seriously, can the Post hire someone with a slightly better ability to think things through. If one thinks that a certain government policy is inadequate, ie. taxes are too low on those with high incomes, the solution is to change policy. Thiessen provides a flippant response to a serious policy issue.

It's really painful to watch somebody this foolish try to think his way out of a paper bag. At least Bush had the good sense to go into hiding. Follow him.

Posted by: sixman | April 7, 2010 12:10 PM | Report abuse

No one likes a smart-ass, Thiessen.

Posted by: okjuggler | April 7, 2010 1:56 PM | Report abuse

I guess Marc's answer is just too simple.....as many in disagreement have posted with their - dare we say - attacks. But I guess if the higher taxes are not imposed as a whole on the "collective" - it does not meet with their ideology.

Posted by: short1 | April 7, 2010 2:10 PM | Report abuse

I respond at www.ideasmatter.jeroldduquette.org

Bottomline, your argument is a retread that isn't even logical. It's a "gotcha" that requires readers to "NOT" think about it.

Posted by: jeroldduquetteorg | April 8, 2010 1:07 PM | Report abuse

Whenever funds are donated to the government, there is an unstated handling charge taken by the government to invest or use the money. Citizens who feel that they are not taxed enough have several better options:

1 - Invest the excess funds themselves to generate an income that can be donated to charities, individuals, or special giving programs. Check http://kiva.org for an entity that invests money profitably with people who truly need it.

2 - Donate directly to the charity of their choice, taking care to choose organizations with a good track record for getting the best bang for the buck.

3 - Donate directly to needy people. Any church or non-profit counseling organization would be happy to point them to people in need.

4 - Fund free seminars to teach others how to generate wealth so that they will pay more taxes and donate generously. They could become a one-person recovery plans.

If these wealthy Americans truly want to help, they will find places where their money will be used efficiently, without a middle-man as ravenous as the US government.

Posted by: sbpickering | April 8, 2010 7:27 PM | Report abuse

to all,

i find it "interesting", to say the least, WHY the LEFTIST IDIOTS of the DIMocRATS Party want everyone else EXCEPT themselves to pay more taxes.

the US government, as a whole, is the BIGGEST waster of money of any government on earth.= i spent several years living abroad & the governments of the countries where i lived spend LESS on everything (even in the most politically corrupt of nations) than our government pours down every imaginable RAT-HOLE and/or that goes "into the pocket of" our politcal "leaders".

fwiw, can you NAME any member of the US Congress that retired without becoming a MILLIONAIRE, even when they started out with "modest means"?

MANY retired with 10-20 times more money than they legitimately COULD have made in their "life of public service", had they spent not a single penny during their term of service!

also, the FARTHER LEFT a congress-critter IS the LESS they typically give to ANY charity. = as an example, over the last ten years, i've given more than TWICE the amount to charities than VPOTUS Joe Biden has AND my gross income over that period NEVER exceeded 50,000 a year.

during one of those ten years, according to his actual IRS return, VPOTUS Biden & his wife gave a TOTAL of about 3,000 dollars to ALL non-profit groups combined (including his donations to his church).
fyi, my donations that same year, with a gross income of 46,000 dollars was about 5400.00 dollars.
(fyi, i am NOT bragging about how "wonderful" that i am, but rather pointing out what a CHEAPSKATE & FRAUD that the VP of the USA actually IS, while telling everyone else to "do without", while that SELF-important TWIT gets RICHER!)

so, until each of the RICH "public servants" starts paying "their fair share" (you know, the percentage of our gross income that they want "us regular folks" to pay), i don't want to hear them even DISCUSS raising anyone's taxes, ever again.

just my opinion.

yours, TN46

Posted by: texasnative46 | April 11, 2010 5:36 PM | Report abuse

@pepin What makes you think that ExxonMobil has not paid any income taxes? I checked their 2008 Annual Report and they paid $36.5B in taxes on income of $81.7B. This works out to a tax rate of 44%. It also means that ExxonMobil paid more in taxes than all but 63 companies in the US generated in revenue!

You can check these numbers for yourself if you would like at:

http://www.exxonmobil.com/Corporate/Files/news_pub_sar_2008.pdf

Just jump to page 38 to see the income generated and taxes paid for the past 3 years.

Posted by: jimbo_hawkins | April 12, 2010 4:45 PM | Report abuse

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