Pop quiz: how do you cut taxes on low and middle-income wage earners and end up with a greater percentage of people paying taxes?
Such is a question the folks at the Associated Press should be asking themselves concerning a piece the wire service published Wednesday entitled "Nearly Half of US Households Escape Fed Income Tax: Recession, new tax credits have nearly half of US households paying no federal income tax."
In the same paragraph, author Stephen Ohlemacher predictably bashed former President George W. Bush's tax cuts that were "generous to wealthy taxpayers" while he applauded "tax cuts for low- and middle-income families, which were expanded when Obama signed the massive economic recovery package last year."
There's only one problem with this premise - the net result was that a higher percentage of people paid federal income taxes in Obama's first year in office than in Bush's last:
About 47 percent will pay no federal income taxes at all for 2009. Either their incomes were too low, or they qualified for enough credits, deductions and exemptions to eliminate their liability. That's according to projections by the Tax Policy Center, a Washington research organization.
That was paragraph two. Here are paragraphs fourteen and fifteen:
In 2007, about 38 percent of households paid no federal income tax, a figure that jumped to 49 percent in 2008, according to estimates by the Tax Policy Center.
In 2008, President George W. Bush signed a law providing most families with rebate checks of $300 to $1,200. Last year, Obama signed the economic recovery law that expanded some tax credits and created others. Most targeted low- and middle-income families.
So, after Obama's marvelous "tax cuts for low- and middle-income families, which were expanded when Obama signed the massive economic recovery package last year," 53 percent of Americans paid federal income taxes.
But in Bush's last year in office, having enacted tax cuts "in the past decade" that 'have been generous to wealthy taxpayers," 51 percent of people paid federal income taxes.
That means, Mr. Ohlemacher, that more people paid federal income taxes AFTER Obama expanded "tax cuts for low- and middle-income families."
For some reason, Ohlemacher didn't specifically address this fact OR explain to readers how more people could have ended up paying taxes after "Obama signed the economic recovery law that expanded some tax credits and created others" that mostly "targeted low- and middle-income families."
I guess tax cuts that are supposedly "generous to wealthy taxpayers" are bad even if they result in few people paying taxes, and tax cuts for low- and middle-income families are good even if they result in more people paying taxes.