Earlier this week, the White House unveiled an online tool called "Your 2012 Federal Taxpayer Receipt." Sleek and seemingly straightforward, it tells taxpayers what percentage of their payments to the federal government went toward national defense, health care, "job and family security," etc.
Though -- nothing is really straightforward with taxes, is it? How many of us actually remember the dollar amount we paid in social security, medicare, and income taxes?
To make the process simpler, the site offers a number of income "estimates." Did you earn roughly $25,000, $35,000, $50,000, $60,000, or $80,000? Then tool then becomes infinitely easier to use, with amounts inserted automatically. It takes all of a minute, maybe.
But if you make over $80,000, there is no estimate given, period. The U.K. Daily Mail was so intrigued by the marked absence that they spent 35 minutes calculating the results for a hypothetical individual earning $240,00, married and filing jointly with a spouse (the same conditions as for the $80,000 earner).
March 1, 2013, file photo President Barack Obama talks to reporters in the White House briefing room in Washington after his meeting with congressional leaders about the automatic spending cuts. (Photo: AP)
That $240,000 salaried employee, would contribute toward every federal program more than 10 times what the $80,000 employee chips in, despite earning just three times as much money.
Under the same assumptions as the White House used, his or her $48,287 in federal income taxes would include $11,897 for national defense, $10,840 spent on health care-related costs, and $8,334 for the broad 'Job and Family Security' spending category. [Emphasis added]
Daily Finance writes: "...it's noteworthy that, at a time when the president himself is calling attention to the need for higher-income earners to pay their 'fair share,' his administration leaves upper tax brackets out of the income estimate menu."
President Obama has long called for the "rich" to pay their "fair share." (Photo: WhiteHouse.gov)
But that's not the only complaint about the 2012 "tax receipt" calculator. The Washington Examiner notes that the information is presented to emphasize spending on national defense over entitlements:
If you look at the graphic quickly you might think that almost one-quarter of the average American’s tax bill is spent on National Defense. But that is not true. Only one-quarter of their income tax is spent on National Defense. When Social Security and Medicare taxes are accounted for that percentage shrinks to just 6.4 percent.
Note that more than 80 percent of the average American’s taxes go to our nation’s big three entitlement programs: Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.
According to a Gallup poll, the number of Americans who believe their income taxes are “fair” has hit the lowest percentage since 2001. About 55% of Americans describe their tax rates as fair.