Paying a fair share of taxes only, well, fair

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Published: June 12,2011

Tags: federal income tax, MBJ column, Nancy Anderson, taxes

So, I heard that 45 percent of tax filers pay no federal income tax. NONE! 45 percent!

Now, that makes me mad. After all, I pay a boat load of taxes every year. I don’t mind paying my fair share. I just want to make sure everyone else is anteing up, too.

So, I began a search to find out who these people are and how they manage to get away scot-free. I would find them and root out the freeloaders!

Turns out that about a third of the 45 percent are teenagers and college students with part-time or summer jobs. They only have one foot in the job market, so they are not making enough to pay taxes. About another third is composed of retired people living on a modest, fixed income. Both feet are totally out of the workforce. The final third is represented by families with full-time workers. Typically, a family of four with a household income under $50,000 qualifies.

Suddenly, my righteous indignation turns to mush. I really don’t mind that teenagers and retirees aren’t paying taxes. For the teenagers, their day will come, and for the retirees, they’ve paid their dues. As for the folks in the middle, I think anyone trying to get by on $50,000 with two kids needs a break. In fact, over 40 percent of the 45 percent of non-taxpayers are under the age of 35. For the most part, these are young families just getting started.

And even among the total 45 percent, two-thirds are still paying Social Security and Medicare. Only retirees truly get off scot-free. Like I said before, they’ve paid their dues.

After my research, I just found myself grateful that I’m in the 55 percent taxpaying category. After all, if I’m paying taxes, I’m making money. In these tough times, that’s quite an accomplishment!

Nancy Lottridge Anderson, Ph.D., CFA, is president of New Perspectives Inc. in Ridgeland — (601) 991-3158. She is also an assistant professor of finance at Mississippi College. Her e-mail address is nanderson@newper.com, and her website is www.newper.com.

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