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April 8, 2009 12:04 PM   Subscribe

The Average Man's Tax Dollars from thetoiletpaper.com
posted by blue_beetle (40 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite

 
Kind of neat, but:

a) who pays just $4954 a year in taxes? Mine is easily double that (in Canada) if pension contributions are included. Sales tax and property tax are not included, either.

b) Personal income tax is just one source of funding for federal government expenditures, so the toilet paper breakdown is a little inaccurate.

But it would be great to spend less on the military and more on education.
posted by KokuRyu at 12:13 PM on April 8, 2009


Also the NASA one has a picture of the Buran shuttle, not the STS.
posted by Science! at 12:18 PM on April 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


a) who pays just $4954 a year in taxes?

Federal taxes. Add provincial (or state taxes for the US? I don't know) and it gets a bit closer...
posted by splice at 12:24 PM on April 8, 2009


This is really cool, very well done, but they leave a lot out. What about Transportation? Surely I'm throwing a few bucks in the pot to build roads. What about Social Security, Disability, Medicare? That seems like a pretty big chuck of every check.
posted by billysumday at 12:24 PM on April 8, 2009


So where does the other $3,142.27 go? I'm trying to calibrate my indignation!
posted by malocchio at 12:45 PM on April 8, 2009


This thing, unfortunately, read like propaganda against taxes. I'd love to see a pro-taxes version to counterbalance this:

$XXX goes to Interstates ----> It takes 4 hours to drive from Boston to New York ---> It took 2 days by horse and carriage

$XXX goes to scientific/military research ---> GPS, the Internet, and nuclear power were developed via military research ---> Civilian GPS sales generated $XX million in taxes last year, and provided XX thousand Americans with jobs.

And so forth. There are so many things that taxes pay for, things that either couldn't be done cheaply if they didn't have the economy of scale the government does, or at all. No private company in the world would have taken a gamble on putting up GPS satellites and hoping they'd turn a profit.
posted by explosion at 12:47 PM on April 8, 2009 [3 favorites]


a) who pays just $4954 a year in taxes? Mine is easily double that (in Canada) if pension contributions are included. Sales tax and property tax are not included, either.

Uh, the average American man? (also, not counting state taxis). That's about what I paid, I think.

(also, why "average man" and not "average person"?)
posted by delmoi at 1:30 PM on April 8, 2009


delmoi: because men earn more on average...
posted by wocka wocka wocka at 1:32 PM on April 8, 2009


Clearly they have not bought a psychology textbook lately...
posted by wittgenstein at 1:40 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Yeah, no kidding wittgenstein. I think mine was over $120, and that was intro psych 7 or 8 years ago. And not to derail this into a healthcare system thread, but as a curious Canadian I'm also disappointed there's nothing related to social services & medicaid. (I'd want to see average private insurance costs too, though--the numbers that pop up on MeFi occasionally absolutely blow my mind).
posted by Decimask at 2:32 PM on April 8, 2009


...Was the dollar amount for the contribution to the NEA just too small for them to figure? That's what I was most curious about. (Although, if it was too small, that would be worth my pointing out to a couple HURF DURF ARTS FUNDING WASTES MONEY folks I know.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 2:46 PM on April 8, 2009


Uh, the average American man? (also, not counting state taxis). That's about what I paid, I think.

Really? God damn.

I just wrote a $20K+ check to our fine upstanding Federal government. Which was just an installment.

I'm still crying blood.
posted by tkchrist at 2:48 PM on April 8, 2009


What is it like to make $41,964 I'd love to make that much a year. As you might imagine eating bean and rice all the time is less than glamorous
posted by nola at 2:52 PM on April 8, 2009


Haha. I'm a grad student. I didn't even make $4954 this year.
posted by The White Hat at 2:59 PM on April 8, 2009


a) who pays just $4954 a year in taxes? Mine is easily double that (in Canada) if pension contributions are included. Sales tax and property tax are not included, either.

Uh, the average American man? (also, not counting state taxis). That's about what I paid, I think.


I guess I had better move to the States! Then again, I suppose my higher Canadian taxes are paying for things like better health care, better K-12 + public tertiary education, and free blow jobs sung to the tune of "the Internationale".
posted by KokuRyu at 3:12 PM on April 8, 2009


tkchrist is another victim of Jimmy Carter's kung fu tax.
posted by East Manitoba Regional Junior Kabaddi Champion '94 at 3:14 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


I just wrote a $20K+ check to our fine upstanding Federal government. Which was just an installment.

I'm still crying blood.


Cry me a river. I'd love to make enough money that my Federal income tax was $20,000. By my calculations, if you are single and using only the standard deduction, that means you made at a minimum $98,635. If you had greater deductions, that minimum is higher. If you're married, the tax brackets take effect at higher levels, so again that minimum is higher still.

Oh, that $20,000 was an installment? So in essence you're admitting that you earned over $200K last year? You should be damned glad to pay that money to the government of the country that made it possible for you to earn so very much money, and happier still that you get to keep so much of it.
posted by explosion at 3:16 PM on April 8, 2009 [9 favorites]


Shit, can I take my $9.91 to Israel and put it towards another flu vaccine?

That's the most egregious one to me. I'm not really "pro" the amount we spend on our own defense, but $10 per average citizen to ISRAEL?

Jeezus, no wonder everyone hates us. I kinda hate us too, for that at least.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 3:24 PM on April 8, 2009


$200K, explosion? As a quarterly installment of self-employment tax collection I had it guesstimated over $320K easy. And unrelated to the inevitable annual refund after filing all the paperwork (which, if it is less than one entire quarterly installment, he's either doing something wrong or has near zero business expenses).

One thing I don't like about the tax system is its tendency to overwithhold and have you give the Feds an interest-free loan until you file for a refund. It has always looked even worse for the self-employed, but that 'loan' isn't technically a tax because you do get it back.
posted by wendell at 3:53 PM on April 8, 2009


Oh wow, I didn't even think of it as quarterly installments. I just figured the payment was because April 15th is coming up quickly. By installment I thought he meant he sent some of it over, and was paying more later.

Yeah, if he's paying $20K per quarter, then he is definitely closer to your estimate. People who make that much money haven't done that much more work than anyone else, or been that much smarter. They've been lucky and privileged, and should acknowledge that by happily paying their taxes. If you don't like how the taxes are spent, write your congressperson or agitate for change, don't complain about paying taxes as a concept.
posted by explosion at 4:08 PM on April 8, 2009


People who make that much money haven't done that much more work than anyone else, or been that much smarter.

As a blanket statement, that's astonishingly stupid.
posted by Kwantsar at 4:25 PM on April 8, 2009 [5 favorites]


Oh, that $20,000 was an installment? So in essence you're admitting that you earned over $200K last year? You should be damned glad to pay that money to the government of the country that made it possible for you to earn so very much money, and happier still that you get to keep so much of it.

-and-

People who make that much money haven't done that much more work than anyone else, or been that much smarter. They've been lucky and privileged, and should acknowledge that by happily paying their taxes. If you don't like how the taxes are spent, write your congressperson or agitate for change, don't complain about paying taxes as a concept.


I actually laughed at loud. What you think you know could fill the OED.

The combined level of hubris and ignorance on Mefi about business is always so entertaining. When either of you members of the beleaguered workers proletariat write one of those checks then come and talk to me. Then tell me how privileged you feel.

BTW. I am a business owner and employ five full time employees. If you think for a second my and wife's combined disposable take home pay is in excess of 200K you are on fucking crack. I bet a thousand dollars I work a fuck load more hours than both of you two goof balls combined. I'd love to know what this thing you children call a weekend is like. Go ahead. Take that bet.
posted by tkchrist at 4:49 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


> I am a business owner and employ five full time employees

You didn't mention that you were a business owner. You could have easily said "Man, I wish I could have paid that, but then I am a business owner, so I had to pay this much instead."

Instead you just compared your taxes with that of someone who was a single income wage earner, which could easily be interpreted as a dick waving comparison of your pay check (ie "Man it sucks having to pay insurance on my BMW/Porsche/Bentley").

I mean, I guess you could continue your righteous indignation, but folks were just going off the information you provided.
posted by mrzarquon at 5:42 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


One thing I don't like about the tax system is its tendency to overwithhold and have you give the Feds an interest-free loan until you file for a refund.

To avoid this, use the IRS' Withholding Calculator then, based on the results, give your employer a a new W-4. Voila! More cash in each paycheck (but little to no refund at the end of the year).
posted by SugarFreeGum at 5:54 PM on April 8, 2009


You didn't mention that you were a business owner.

It's only been mentioned in about hundred other posts. And also my feelings about visa vie privilege and wealth should be long known by now. And taxes for that matter.

Perhaps with a little investigation into my posting history one could divine such things. Maybe that is far too much to ask. Especially when it's oh so easy to be a self-righteous judgmental fuckwad instead.

I guess your right in that I shouldn't wave my vast unwieldy fortune in the faces of these honest working-class Metafilter Church mice. I had assumed I was in the presence of Ivy league captain of industry peers. That was poor form. I'll save that for Sunday brunch at the Country Club, what.

Now if you'll excuse me I have to go practice for my polo team by hitting Fabergé eggs into my Dom Perignon filled swimming pool.
posted by tkchrist at 6:03 PM on April 8, 2009 [2 favorites]


Perhaps with a little investigation into my posting history one could divine such things. Maybe that is far too much to ask. Especially when it's oh so easy to be a self-righteous judgmental fuckwad instead.

...I suppose your simply mentioning these facts in this thread, rather than posting passive-aggressive snark, was also simply too much to ask?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:19 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


....Upon reflection: my snark didn't help either. Sorry, tkchrist.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:29 PM on April 8, 2009


Perhaps with a little investigation into my posting history one could divine such things. Maybe that is far too much to ask.

While I do tend to remember things about active posters, I've never gone into anyone's posting history to investigate their background. I think it's fair to assume that most people are going to make their comments based on the information they have at hand, not information that they would be required to dig for.

I mean, I'm certainly not going to forget that you're a business owner, but I didn't know that before and would never have dug into your posting history based on your comments in this thread.
posted by grapefruitmoon at 7:36 PM on April 8, 2009 [1 favorite]


People who make that much money haven't done that much more work than anyone else, or been that much smarter.

As a blanket statement, that's astonishingly stupid.
posted by Kwantsar at 7:25 PM on April 8 [3 favorites +] [!]


That you made this statement shows your astonishing ignorance of reality, inequality and the cultural determination of renumeration.

and tkchrist - I'm sorry, but when you have that large a tax bill, you aren't going to get a great deal of sympathy from people who also work 7-day weeks, but will make in gross only what you pay in taxes. Now, from what you say, that isn't your personal income, but a business income. It's still completely fair for your business to be paying it, considering how much subsidy your business (like all businesses in a developed country) gets from the various arms of governments (infrastructure, education, etc).

No one likes paying taxes - I gripe about paying taxes. (Especially the poll tax 'health care premium' I currently have to pay to Ontario even though I'm not actually resident, and I don't use any health care right now and won't be allowed to for 3 months after I get back. Actually, mostly I just object because it's a regressive tax (slightly graded, but that means the poor pay $300, and the rich pay something like $600, which is ridiculous - they should have just upped the basic rates.)

But then I tell myself that paying taxes is my part of the deal - if I want to live in a safe and developed country, I have to do my part and pay taxes.

It's just the patriotic thing to do. (Even for a dirty foreigner like me, who pays to the US and to my home country.)
posted by jb at 7:39 PM on April 8, 2009


I make more than the national average and not only do I not pay federal tax (other than SS and medicare, for which there is no refund), I get back more than I paid in (the additional child tax credit), now, this is due to having 3 kids and a wife who has not started back to work. This constant reduction on taxes for the "middle class" is generating a majority of people that pay no tax (140 million tax filers, only 90 million pay anything in). and therefore have no stake in limiting the national debt (now well over 100k for each of those who pay income taxes). Frontline recently had a good show the constant tax cutting and increase in spending during the Bush years, here's a transcript from one of the show's interviews.
posted by 445supermag at 8:10 PM on April 8, 2009


This thing, unfortunately, read like propaganda against taxes.

To me, no. It delineated a lot of useful things, although some of them are of limited popularity. That's in contrast to, say, Bobby Jindal sneering about "volcano monitoring" as if it were something done with a Ouija board.
posted by dhartung at 9:02 PM on April 8, 2009


Oh, that $20,000 was an installment? So in essence you're admitting that you earned over $200K last year? You should be damned glad to pay that money to the government of the country that made it possible for you to earn so very much money, and happier still that you get to keep so much of it.

Hunh? Are you crazy? $200K a year for a small business owner (construction contractor, small IT shop, small retail store) is pretty normal.

I would suggest you re-evaluate your personal ambition and your goals, and your own self-worth. As a freelancer, I made about double what I make now as a salaried employee a few years ago, and it was thanks to my hard work - I worked seven days a week, 18 hours a day. I have the equivalent of an English degree, and my father is a tradesman, so it's not like I was born into privilege.

The government helped me, I suppose, by doing whatever governments do, and I was certainly eager to pay my fair share of taxes.

But what you wrote above there is just weird. Where I'm from, it takes a median household income of $100K just to be able to afford a decent house.

There's nothing virtuous about paying a shitload of taxes, and there is nothing virtuous about living a life of penury.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:25 PM on April 8, 2009


Or what tkchrist said.
posted by KokuRyu at 10:26 PM on April 8, 2009


Lots of folks work 7 days a week, long hours. They haven't been either lucky enough or timed things well or whatever to get that brass ring, though.

In fact, I have been a smal-businessman, and I know what it's like. I know I worked hard and worked diligently. But I also know that a lot of people who make big money naturally gravitate toward thinking that they somehow worked harder or smarter than other folks who aren't making as much as them. That somehow people who aren't as affluent are at fault for their own lack of affluence, and somehow that people who are affluent somehow deserved their wealth, generally by dint of their own wonderful qualities that poorer people must not possess. Like willingness to work hard, cleverness, smartitude, gumption, etc. The attitude is most evident when the topic is taxation, it seems.

It's just an interesting thing about human nature, this assumption that somehow our good fortune is all due to our own merit, and other folks' bad fortune is due to their own flaws. For those of us who have been on both sides of that fence, though, it's not as clear-cut as many would like to imagine.
posted by darkstar at 1:21 AM on April 9, 2009 [1 favorite]


wow, massive derail

Every person should get one of these with their tax bill.

The breakdowns on the site are clearly biased, but shouldn't I be able to get this kind of information about the tax I pay without having to do a lot of investigation first?

Tax hypothecation goes a long way to involving the electorate in the own government. Not that anyone would want that of course ...
posted by fistynuts at 5:30 AM on April 9, 2009


But what you wrote above there is just weird. Where I'm from, it takes a median household income of $100K just to be able to afford a decent house.

No one said it was virtuous to be poor (well, except for Jesus, but he's not actively involved in this thread).

But the current median household income in the United States is not $100K, it is $50K USD. (We'll leave aside the conversion issue into CND, but it's not so great right now).

To quote lavishly from the well-cited wikipedia article (regarding the US):
"In 2007, the median annual household income rose 1.3% to $50,233.00 according to the Census Bureau.[3]

The real median earnings of men who worked full time, year-round climbed between 2006 and 2007, from $43,460 to $45,113. For women, the corresponding increase was from $33,437 to $35,102. [Note: the discrepancy with this article may be because they used average, not median. I much prefer median as a better indication of social structure]

.... Households in the top quintile, 77% of which had two or more income earners, had incomes exceeding $91,705. Households in the mid quintile, with a mean of approximately one income earner per household had incomes between $36,000 and $57,657. Households in the lowest quintile had incomes less than $19,178 and the majority had no income earner.[10]
So, what you are saying is that where you are from, households are in the top 20% of American income (or a bit lower, bc you are converting from CND), or they don't have a decent home. Or maybe a bit of both (in that you may have many people who have a median American income, but simply don't have decent homes).

But looking at the actual distribution of income in the United States should give you some perspective on how the incomes we are talking about are not weird (ie, out of the norm). I would say that incomes in the top or bottom 20% (as opposed to the mid 60%) are the ones at the extreme ends.

The reality is that American incomes are much lower than many people in the media or active on the internet seem to realise. Maybe it's because these forms of communication are dominated by people who have higher incomes or expect to have higher incomes, and we are in general too isolated from people with lower incomes.

And this isn't just true in America - it's true in most developed countries. I have shocked a friend by establishing that his parents were in the top 10% of Canadian incomes - he knew they were comfortable, but had no idea how far from the median they were. It gave him more perspective on the economic realities of most Canadians.

According to yet another useful wikipedia page, median household income in Canada in 2005 was $53,634 CDN, which seems to have been the equivalent of $44,000 USD (if I am reading the bit about purchasing power parity correctly). Which makes our median lower than California's, but higher than the UK or NZ, in what it will buy us.

-----------------------------------------

Every person should get one of these with their tax bill.

A friend of mine had the same idea for tax cuts. She said that everyone who wanted tax cuts should receive a form to fill out on exactly where they wanted the cuts in services to go. Like for $300, you can leave a child on welfare hungry for one month," or "for $1000, you give a mentally ill person a new opportunity to enjoy fresh air by sleeping on the streets in freezing temperatures." (This was all in response to the Mike Harris gov't in Ontario, at a time when homelessness, and deaths from freezing, jumped.)
posted by jb at 7:32 AM on April 9, 2009


tkchrist, there is some dishonesty going on in this thread here. If you paid over $20,000 in taxes, then that means that you made as much as I claimed in take-home pay. Otherwise it is your business that paid that much in taxes.

Now, I'm not a tax lawyer, accountant, or someone who knows much about running a business, but I was under the impression that a business pays taxes on profits, not revenues. That costs of doing business such as employee wages, materials, inventory, etc. was all tax-deductible, and costs of large-ticket items could be spread across multiple years for tax benefit. So I understand if you don't want to lay out your books to the public, but explain to me how exactly you managed to owe so much to the Federal government, as excise and sales taxes go to state.

Unless, of course, you're lumping in FICA and Medicare payments as "Federal taxes," which is really just dishonest, since those are not taxes that YOU suffer, but the cost of doing business and something your business incurs as a result of hiring employees. There was an assumption in this thread from post #1 that we were talking about income tax, not business taxes. You spoke as though you, personally, had an income tax bill of $20,000, rather than your business having aggregated, various Federal business taxes of over $20,000.

All that being said, not everyone in America can afford to even start a business, have the know-how to run one correctly, and the connections and good fortune to have it work. There is hard work, yes, but the successful reach their success to a large degree on the backs of those less successful. You pay more taxes because you make money due to the labor of your employees, who make less.

KokuRyu implies that making $200K per year is normal for a small business owner, which is fine, but you have to admit that from that income standpoint alone, that is a shitload more than most people make, and that makes it a pretty prestigious job to have in any country in the world.
posted by explosion at 7:47 AM on April 9, 2009 [4 favorites]


"There's nothing virtuous about paying a shitload of taxes"

The virtue of paying taxes is directly proportional to the amount of good done with them.
posted by Eideteker at 4:32 PM on April 9, 2009


The percentiles for Canadian incomes in 2006 are also cited here. The writing is a little cutsy, so I will quote judiciously:

- "40 per cent of Canadians earned less than $20,000 CDN. (Total income includes all income from employment, investment, pension and other sources, including government transfers - before taxes.)"

- median individual income in 2006 was $26,500 CND

- for individuals, "less than 10 per cent of people made more than $75,000 a year, and only 4.3 per cent made over $100,000."


For "couple families" - that is, household income for households with two (with or without children):

- "about 10 per cent made less than $25,000"

- "40 percent line at around $60,000 of household income" (meaning 40% made less than)

- "The 2006 median income for couple families in Canada was $70,400"

- "21 per cent of couple families made between $70,000 and $100,000, and 18 per cent made between $100,000 and $150,000. Only 11 per cent made more than $150,000 - and less than 3 per cent made more than $250,000."

So that puts median "couple families" income substantial higher than median household income in general, which is not that surprising when you think about it.
posted by jb at 12:48 PM on April 10, 2009


You pay more taxes because you make money due to the labor of your employees, who make less.

HAHAAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

God you are hilarious. Had to check back into this thread just for that. You don't know a THING about me or my business and here you are making up even more kerfuffle for your Exploitative Scrooge McDuck strawman.

First off nothing in my very first post implied ANYTHING about how I feel about the income tax system in this country or anything else. It was a perfectly innocent comment. Your conclusion jumping and knee jerk enthusiasm to tell off what you thought was a nasty selfish rich person just got to much, didn't it?

I'll tell you my thinking actually was. I was thinking how awesome it would be to not have to lay somebody off to pay a tax bill (which included capital gains... KA-BAM). And it would be awesome to actually HAVE the money to pay these taxes. And that it was like crying blood to fork over money YOU DON'T HAVE.

So, genius, tell me more about how much I earn. And where the hell that money is. Is it under my mattress? Buried in the yard?

So next time before you jump in with both feet with an ignorant knee-jerk lecture about a subject which plainly you know nothing ASK what the fuck somebody means by their comment first.
posted by tkchrist at 5:28 PM on April 13, 2009


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