Unfortunately, this year January does not mean a deep run into the playoffs for the Steelers, as has been noted in an earlier post. January usually means snow, although so far, a little over halfway into the month, the weather has been anything but usual. Sunny and 18 degrees one day, rainy and 55 the next, and snow squalls a few days later. Kind of makes your head spin.
But I digress. What I am talking about is tax time. Oh, how I hate it. The gathering of the papers and receipts. Trying to guess at the value of donated items. Lamenting over the few dollars we made in savings this year (though, looking on the bright side, that means giving less to the government). But mostly just trying to figure out how we can get as much money back as possible.
I read in the AP News yesterday (and in a few other places today) that Romney pays taxes close to the 15 percent tax rate, which is higher than most. But the thing is, he has made most of his money on investments. The top federal tax rate for investments is 15%, while the top tax rate for wages is 35% on taxable income over $388,350. Wages are also subject to Social Security and Medicare payroll taxes (which effectively raises the tax rate).
What am I trying to say, exactly? I am not entirely sure. I totally support people making a lot of money, and I am not someone who thinks that people who make a lot of money should be taxed at a higher rate than others (see this post from 2009 if you don't believe me). But since we have these stupid tax rates, in a way it seems a little shady for someone with so much money in investments to pay less in taxes than someone making $50,000 (again, I am including the taxes I noted above that come out of paychecks).
Maybe one of you smart people can help me figure this out. I am fully expecting my conservative friends to accuse me of going soft and not caring about capitalism, and that is fine; I want to hear it. And I am not going to lie—I am bothered by Romney's comment that the $375,000 in speaking fees he took home last year was not very much money. I just think in these tough times when we have a huge deficit and bills our going up but the income of the average worker is not, something should change.
One last comment. Back in April 2009, I wrote a post about taxes (the same one I referenced above) discussing the fair and flat taxes. I reread that post and came across this sentence: "The president noted that he's asked his economic advisers to thoroughly review how to simplify the tax code and report back to him by year's end."
Maybe one of you can tell me what the changes were? I just don't think anything about taxes is simple.