Thursday, April 08, 2010

50% of households pay no tax is a misleading headline

Recent news reports, including our own News and Observer printed an AP story by Stephen Ohlemacher with the headline:

For half of U.S., tax bill is $0

Ouch, sounds like we need to re-arrange things, pronto. But wait, put the pitch forks down for a minute. Not paying income tax is not the same as a tax bill of "$0".

Why did I say income tax?  They said "tax bill."

There it is, that is how they misled you. With the scary, newspaper-selling, web-site-click-generating, headline. Mr. Ohlemacher got the numbers for his story from the Tax Policy Center which two days earlier published: 5 Myths about your taxes.

The first myth? It is this: "The poorest and the richest Americans pay no taxes." Turns out that, even the poorest of the working poor pay "Social Security and Medicare taxes when they work, sales taxes when they buy things and property taxes on their homes."

Should we get all worked up about our taxes - sure we should. But let's not let the shouting people in the world tell us what to think.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for bringing facts and clarity on this matter.