Paul L. Caron

Friday, August 29, 2008

Calculate Your Obama Tax Cut

Calculate your Obama tax cut here.  (The methodology is explained here.)

For a fuller explanation of the presidential candidates tax positions, see The Tax Policy Center:  A Updated Analysis of the 2008 Presidential Candidates' Tax Plans (Aug. 28, 2008):

See also The Washington Post:  Obama and McCain Tax Proposals:


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Hey ThatGuy, you're not reading well.

Fred's point is that income taxes may not go up for someone making, say, $200,000 per year, but if the FICA cap is lifted, that person will pay an additional ~10k in FICA.

Posted by: Pat | Oct 28, 2008 7:11:31 PM

"Obama will raise the social security cap. That means anyone making over $102,000 will pay an additional 12.4% on every dollar earned above that level. It is laughable that anyone can take this tax analysis seriously and really believe someone making $600K a year will get a $12 tax cut. But we are talking about Obama voters so they will swallow these lies hook line and sinker."

Yet you can't really even come up with a valid example or excuse, and instead of pointing out the pros AND cons of a situation, makes you just as of a gullible person than the next one?

Posted by: ThatGuyInTheBack | Oct 22, 2008 11:28:23 AM

Is this really a cut vs. what I currently pay. Or a reduction based on what the projection currently is for taxes in 2009 if no changes are made.

For example if I payed Y dollars in taxes this year and have exactly the same circumstances and pay in 2009. Would I really pay less?

Posted by: Fred | Oct 22, 2008 10:51:53 AM

3% of the population (the extremely wealthy) already pay 50% of the taxes!!! Now I am a single parent, no child support, and bettering my education while working full time earning less than 40k a yr. I am making an effort to better myself to earn more in the future because we are adults and we need to help ourselves. Yet those supporting BO wallow in their low wage earnings and essentially want the wealthy to carry them thru life. When are they gunna wake up and smell the roses and try to help themselves?? There is more!! Hey now the govt will do your taxes for you!! Do they need their hands held by the govt to cross a street as well?? The wealthy people got wealthy because they earned it!! For all the BO supporters--Try harder, cut the umbilical cord, re-educated and earn the money you need to live. Stop trying rob those that earned it by working hard--the old american way!!!!!! Remember the saying LIFE IS WHAT YOU MAKE IT. Not what you can take from others.

Posted by: republican 4 life | Sep 16, 2008 7:47:45 PM

Do Obama's tax plan incomes refer to gross or AGI?

Posted by: Nathan E | Sep 13, 2008 8:28:27 AM

Please read Obama TAxes and YOU! when it comes out October 1, 2008 by LLumina Press for an analysis on the McCain and Obama Tax positions.

Posted by: Nicholas Paleveda MBA J.D. LL.M | Sep 11, 2008 12:00:24 PM

Regarding the comments about rich not being a steady revenue stream.

The wealthy carry the burden of taxes in this country , even with capital gains cuts, because THEY HAVE ALL THE MONEY. 2/3 of American wage earners earn under $50,000 per year. To get at the income of the wealthy, Obama is proposing raising capital gains taxes on earners over 250,000, (top 3% of population) who pay 80% of capital gains taxes. (the top .03 percent pays 60% of capital gains.) When people start earning over 500,000 per year, most of them don't earn most of their income in salaries, but in stock options, investments and lots of other revenue streams , ALL OF WHICH ARE DESIGNED TO BE TAXED AT 15%, as opposed to the on average 25% that middle class Americans pay on earned income!!!


Middle Class Person:

Work 60 hours per week.
EARN %45,000 per year.
Pay 25% in Federal taxes.

Independently Wealthy Person:
Work 0 hours per week
Jet set around the world
COLLECT $1,000,000 in revenue
Pay 15% in taxes.

Even with a raise in capital gains taxes to 20%, the wealthy will still be VERY wealthy, and have lots of incentives to invest, just like it was before Bush took office.

If the wealthy want to pay less of the tax burden, they need to have less of the wealth.

Posted by: maggie | Sep 8, 2008 1:35:55 PM

Let the Government do your taxes, you can trust them!!

Calculations aside,

This is a prime example of the theoretical difference of Republicans and Democrats! If you want a “tax invoice” from your government vote for Obama. As for myself I prefer to prepare my own taxes and assume the government will trust me!

Directly from his website: Obama Plan: Simplify Tax Filings for Middle Class Americans: Obama will dramatically simplify tax filings so that millions of Americans will be able to do their taxes in less than five minutes. Obama will ensure that the IRS uses the information it already gets from banks and employers to give taxpayers the option of pre-filled tax forms to verify, sign and return. Experts estimate that the Obama proposal will save Americans up to 200 million total hours of work and aggravation and up to $2 billion in tax preparer fees.

This is a dangerous path! At first glance, I’ll admit it sounds so simple and helpful, but think about it!!! The governments job is NOT to make my life free from “work and aggravation” but to offer protection from those that want to take away my opportunity to the “work and aggravation” that will help improve my life and the lives of my kids!!


Posted by: Jenny | Sep 7, 2008 6:41:05 PM

Does this account for BO's plan to increase payroll taxes, eliminate the cuts in the death tax and the marraige penalty and roll back the increased child tax credit (along with all of the other Bush tax cuts)?

Posted by: kh | Sep 4, 2008 1:20:23 PM

Obama will raise the social security cap. That means anyone making over $102,000 will pay an additional 12.4% on every dollar earned above that level. It is laughable that anyone can take this tax analysis seriously and really believe someone making $600K a year will get a $12 tax cut. But we are talking about Obama voters so they will swallow these lies hook line and sinker.

Posted by: Ed | Sep 2, 2008 9:11:40 PM

I made $10000 and I stress that no one else could claim me as a dependent, I still paid $400 in federal income tax.

Either a lie or an 8 year old filled out your taxes.

For those saying that low income people wouldn't receive Obama's tax cut benefits because they don't pay taxes, there's this little thing called payroll taxes which are deducted all year long and credited towards your yearend income tax bill

Refunded via the EITC. Thus, your entire argument is completely irrelevant, immaterial and ignorant.

I don't know why conservative can't see this

Because they're intelligent enough not to make fools of themselves in such a manner. Read up on the EITC.

And the very wealthy should pay a higher percentage that people living in poverty.

They do. People in poverty don't pay anything. They get their payroll taxes back, PLUS. Really read up.

Posted by: RW | Sep 2, 2008 9:01:04 PM

I made $10000 and I stress that no one else could claim me as a dependent, I still paid $400 in federal income tax.

If that's true you're doing your taxes wrong. Wise up, fella.

Posted by: jxn | Aug 30, 2008 8:18:16 AM

Keep in mind that (depending on the exact design of Obama's Health Plan) you may have to count Nattie Health Premiums as taxes too. The CBO declared the Clinton Health Care Plan premiums "taxes" back in 93/94 (because you have to pay them like FICA).

That could dramatically increase Obama's hit on lower income quintiles.

Posted by: Duncan Frissell | Aug 30, 2008 2:35:37 AM

For those saying that low income people wouldn't receive Obama's tax cut benefits because they don't pay taxes, there's this little thing called payroll taxes which are deducted all year long and credited towards your yearend income tax bill [and are refunded if you overpaid, i.e.don't owe taxes]. These payroll taxes are based on the tax tables and as such they would accordingly be adjusted and therefore everyone getting cuts would have more net pay each paycheck. For very low income there might not be any fed. taxes taken out [because they don't owe] which would be going directly into the economy. I don't know why conservative can't see this. Reducing taxes for low and middle income puts MORE money into the economy as goods and services. I really don't feel the pain of millionaires who are "only" left with 700k after taxes. It's part of living in a civilized society that allows for them to actually earn that kind of money. We seem to want everything, but not pay for it. And the very wealthy should pay a higher percentage that people living in poverty.

Posted by: Scott | Aug 29, 2008 10:00:30 PM

Wow, such disappointing debate.
How about for the McCain supporters " I really like the look of the McCain tax agenda, I believe that creating a higher tax burden on the highest earners will reduce investment and slow the economy. ..." and for Obama supporters something like " I like the look of the Obama tax agenda, I believe that it is more fair because the wealthiest take more advantage of the public services that the country provides. ...".

Posted by: commandersprocket | Aug 29, 2008 7:40:10 PM

So much misinformation out there. And the candidates are some of the worst offenders. Look at the linked Complete Executive Summary and you will see one obvious fact: the proposals of both candidates come up far, far short.

"Both candidates prefer to compare their plans to the “current policy” baseline, which would extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts and indefinitely extend an indexed AMT “patch”—and collect nearly $3.6 trillion less than under current law over the coming decade. Against that baseline, Obama would raise revenues by about $600 billion over the decade, while McCain would lose $600 billion. But choice of baseline doesn’t change how the proposals would affect the budget picture; without substantial cuts in government spending, both plans would sharply increase the national debt. Including interest costs, Obama’s tax plan would boost the debt by $3.5 trillion by 2018. McCain’s plan would increase the debt by $5 trillion."

Neither candidate is facing up to the big problem that the last 3 lines of the Summary Revenue Table show clearly: Over the next decade, current spending programs are going to eat up 19.8% of GDP, but current tax policy would only generate only 17.9% of GDP. The gap is 2% of GDP and more than 10% of the total federal budget. That is simply huge.

The candidates are pretending that this gap doesn't exist or that it can be closed with spending cuts and tax loophole closing. No way. In January the winner will tell you that the situation is much worse than he thought and he just can't cut your taxes. Soon afterwards he'll be proposing to increase them, maybe in a sneaky way like suspending inflation indexing of tax brackets or maybe via "cap and trade" or a direct tax on energy. Maybe it'll be a value added tax earmarked for health care, as I believe Len Burman has proposed.

One way or another, big tax increases of some sort are on the way. The numbers make that inevitable. For a level-headed reality check, read this recent interview that was also linked by Prof. Caron:

Posted by: AMTbuff | Aug 29, 2008 4:46:41 PM

Other commenters make excellent points on why the chart is misleading. It's ok to promote your candidate, but you shouldn't post bogus information and pretend you don't know it is bogus.

Are you unaware that BO wants to repeal the Bush tax cuts and JM wants to make them permanent? Guess which of the two plans will increase the average taxpayers tax bill?

Here's a quote on point from an editorial in the Wall Street Journal on 8/29/08:

Barak Obama "is proposing a steeper tax increase than any recent candidate, yet he is selling it as a net tax cut. He justifies this by asserting that his eight 'refundable' tax credit proposals for people who pay no income tax are "tax cuts." But such tax credits are really a government cash transfer from one taxpayer to a nontaxpayer. Mr. Obama is disguising the kind of pure income distribution that Mr. McGovern failed to sell as a $1,000 'Demogrant.' Mr. Obama's packaging is post-ideological but his package is from the Great Society."

Posted by: Richard Keyt | Aug 29, 2008 3:22:21 PM

Uh, anybody who thinks that someone making 18k doesn't pay taxes has obviously never made that little. EVERYONE pays taxes. Last year, since I was getting financial aid as well as working part time, I made $10000 and I stress that no one else could claim me as a dependent, I still paid $400 in federal income tax. I realize this doesn't sound like a lot of money, but when you are struggling to keep you checking account above $0, every single penny helps.
Any suggestion that Obama is trying to redistribute wealth is is more of the same, out of touch republican idiocy that plagues this nation. Poor people aren't trying to steal all of your money, big oil is. And, poor people are not trying to rip off the federal government, republicans are. Get it straight.

Posted by: Jeremy | Aug 29, 2008 12:57:35 PM

Why not show us what our tax increase would be? You only show that we would not receive a tax cut but don't show the calculation of what his proposal would cost someone if the they would pay indeed pay more.

Posted by: Dave Carey | Aug 29, 2008 12:19:46 PM

Can that graph be correct? Obama's plan will raise taxes 9% on someone making $600,000? That's an extra $54,000 in taxes, plus whatever concomitant increases occur at the state and local level.

I think "tax cut" here includes the amount a low-income person receives from the EITC as well. Looking at the tax tables, people who make around $18,000 can still owe taxes. The above graph doesn't state whether it's gross income, AGI, or taxable income, for example.

Posted by: wow | Aug 29, 2008 10:25:03 AM

Interesting, but I'd like to see a comparison chart of each candidate's proposed spending increases to compare it against.

Posted by: daveg | Aug 29, 2008 10:08:35 AM

"You math is terrible. The group at $18K and under don't pay taxes, so how can they get a tax cut? And how in the world do you calculate a 5.5% cut that ends up at $567?"

My page uses Adjusted Gross Income. And the tax cuts for lower incomes are high largely because of Obama's plan to eliminate income tax for seniors w/ less than 50K AGI.

As for, "you math is terrible," that's the math of the Tax Policy Center as interpreted graphically by the Washington Post. Take your poorly worded criticisms up with them.

Posted by: Zach | Aug 29, 2008 9:53:55 AM

I call BS.
Plug in $10,000, single w/no kids & it shows a $757 cut. Someone making $10K pays zero - ZERO - in income taxes. Additionally, they actually get a refund of their payroll taxes via the EITC, so they pay no federal taxes whatsoever (unless they purchase gasoline or other things, which are subjective buys & not mandatory like payroll/income taxes are). You don't get a tax cut when you don't pay taxes. If they're getting checks on top of EITC & receiving funds offsetting things that they've contributed no inlays towards, then let's call it what it is: welfare.

I'll be kind and say this is "misleading", but we all know the word for this. Please, an update is in order. False information is just that, false. That thing is a sham.

Posted by: RW | Aug 29, 2008 9:19:03 AM

How about we tax 100 percent of anyone over 100,000 dollars. Then we can seize 100 percent of any savings, real estate, OR TRUST over 1,000,000 dollars.

That will sure make lots of money. Of course noone will stop working just because we take all their money, right?

Then we can enslave all the doctors and nurses to provide free medical care. Of course doctors and nurses won't quit the field just because they are enslaved right? And medical schools will still get the same quality of applicant too, right?

Taxes are theft. Theft makes thieves. Obama casts himself in the role of Robin Hood, after all, what profit is it to rob from the poor?

Posted by: Don Meaker | Aug 29, 2008 9:13:58 AM

Oh gee, a lie from Democrats on taxes? Be still my heart! Does anyone think this is the first?

Posted by: Don Meaker | Aug 29, 2008 9:08:43 AM

Read the chart. It's The Average Percentage Change in After Tax Income. Not change in the tax rate.

Posted by: Steve | Aug 29, 2008 9:06:20 AM

Isn't there a big risk to shifting the tax burden more to the wealthy? It seems that people are far less likely to earn in the upper bracket consistently, and so the amount of money flowing into the government would be less consistent. Even worse, it'd seem to fluctuate with the economy itself, and so government would have more impetus to grow during good times, and shrink during bad, which is the opposite of what should happen. Aren't we setting ourselves up for a spiraling deficit and stagflation with such a tax scheme?

Posted by: eric | Aug 29, 2008 9:03:18 AM

The Obama tax hikes will end up with a significant number of Americans paying well over 60% of their income in taxes (federal, state, local). That seems fundamentally unfair.

Posted by: Palin for VP | Aug 29, 2008 8:53:36 AM

The last time I was promised a tax cut by the Democrats it ended up costing me almost $300 and I'm in the bottom third. As always, the devil is in their details and unless you can meet all the special credits you will pay more. Granted that I could have run out and adopted some kids and saved that three hundred dollars, but that seemed like a rather extreme measure for such a small amount of money.

Posted by: Fritz J | Aug 29, 2008 8:52:46 AM

You math is terrible. The group at $18K and under don't pay taxes, so how can they get a tax cut? And how in the world do you calculate a 5.5% cut that ends up at $567?

Posted by: Holly P. | Aug 29, 2008 8:42:38 AM

Barack Obama isn't giving a tax cut to those lowest groups. It's impossible -- they don't pay any tax. So that $567 tax cut to the group under $18K is actually income redistribution. Barack is taking money from one group and giving it to another.

The math doesn't work anyway. Take the $18K group: according to this, they're getting a 5.5% tax cut that amounts to $567 dollars. But if you're making $18K, you'd have to be paying over $10,000 a year in taxes for $567 to be a 5.5% cut.

This is a lie. This is a pure pro-Obama lie.

Posted by: John | Aug 29, 2008 8:41:05 AM

Thanks for the link to my site! I ought to direct people here who think I'm lying to them. Cheers.

Posted by: Zach | Aug 29, 2008 8:27:44 AM

You do not include likely Obama taxes, either direct or indirect, on energy. Whether it be higher gas taxes, "cap and trade", or the continued insidious obstruction of new nuclear plants, energy generation with the latest clean coal technologies, and drilling, Obama will soak the most vulnerable among us in the pursuit of a radical environmental agenda.

Posted by: Uni Petrowska | Aug 29, 2008 8:26:50 AM

If you have the data, it certainly would be interesting to see two more columns, 1) percentage of all taxes paid, 2) percentage of taxpayers.

This is very interesting and helpful. Thank you.

Posted by: Ted Tobiason | Aug 29, 2008 8:14:05 AM

There's something seriously wrong with that chart

Example: 66K-111K in taxes.

According to the chart McCain's plan would change the average taxes paid in that group by -$1009 . This is also labeled as a -1.4% change in taxes paid.

For this to be true, that group would have to be paying average taxes of $72K in taxes!

Clearly, SOMETHING is mislabeled or otherwise wrong with this chart.

Or is that the rate change? That might make sense... but then, the chart wouldn't really be giving enough information to be useful (what's their rate right now, for instance?). As expected, I suppose.

Posted by: Deoxy | Aug 29, 2008 8:14:00 AM

The calculator is just an Obama 'cut' calculator. The only high-end AGIs are 200K and 500K+, and if you choose 500k+, it just says you "probably" will not get an Obama tax cut. So it's a joke for anyone interested in Obama tax increases.

Posted by: tom | Aug 29, 2008 8:09:57 AM

I'm not sure that I understand how Obama cuts taxes for those with less than $20k in income. Does that mean taxable income of $20k (after all deductions and exemptions)? I'm a CPA and the vast majority of taxpayers at that level don't pay any taxes at all. If they have children, they usually get a refundable child tax credit and perhaps the EIC as well. How can you cut taxes for those that don't pay any now?

Posted by: Jen G | Aug 29, 2008 8:08:27 AM

That's real sweet and all, but how much of the tax do those groups getting a cut actually pay? If you already pay 0, and you get a cut, I personally would consider that another entitlement as opposed to a tax CUT, which would, um, go to those paying taxes.

And if we do decide to employ confiscatory tax laws to say pay for universal health care, how much more power and authority are we going to give to an already bloated federal governement anyway? Where do we intend to stop. 90% of public servants already act like, and have the power over our lives, of public masters. I say starve the bastards for money.

Oh well, I guess I will take my $980 payoff and vote for SamiBami. NOT. Do you really think I BELIEVE that my taxes will GO DOWN under a Democratic President and Congress? No, unless your family income is LESS than $50000 forget about tax cuts, we have to do a little income redistribution in the name of equality.

Posted by: Tim McDonald | Aug 29, 2008 8:08:09 AM

How much do the groups (the bottom three especially) now pay in taxes each year on average? In other words, giving us the average percentage change in taxes paid.

Posted by: edh | Aug 29, 2008 7:59:33 AM