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OK, Maybe I don't get the $300 tax rebate after all.
June 11, 2001 10:44 PM   Subscribe

OK, Maybe I don't get the $300 tax rebate after all. More than one-quarter of all American adults will not get a tax rebate this year. Altogether, nearly 40 percent will not get the full amount of $300 for individuals and $600 for couples. Nationally, the study shows, 34 million American adults, or 26 percent, will get no rebate, and another 17 million, or 13 percent, will get less than the full rebate. This sucks. Why am I not surprised.
posted by tcobretti (45 comments total)

 
I looks simple to me. If you didn't pay that much in taxes, why should you expect more of a rebate?
The rebate is based on the taxes people paid on their income in 2000. A couple with two children and a total income of $25,000 owed no income taxes and would get no rebate.
Yawn, next.
posted by john at 10:58 PM on June 11, 2001


> This sucks. Why am I not surprised[?]

Perhaps because, even though you might have fallen for the trick, you rightfully were suspicious of a campaigner promising you a financial reward in exchange for your vote.

"The tax rebate was intended to give a quick boost to the economy and to buy political support for the $1.35 trillion tax reduction legislation that President Bush signed into law on Thursday."

I don't know whether these rebates are going to do much about the economy (what will those married couples do with this fabulous wealth? buy coffee?), but I'm sure the pre-election propaganda for tax rebates bought a lot of votes.
posted by pracowity at 11:12 PM on June 11, 2001


I'm sure the pre-election propaganda for tax rebates bought a lot of votes.


As I recall, the rebates weren't even part of Bush's original tax plan, but added as a compromise for Democratic support in the Senate.
posted by gyc at 11:32 PM on June 11, 2001


> the rebates weren't even part of Bush's original tax plan

I was thinking of the entire plan; I don't remember if the rebate was part of the original plan and, if you're sure, I'm certainly not arguing the point. Talk of a plan to cut taxes (of which the rebates, or lack of them, became a part) was the carrot with which Bush bought votes.
posted by pracowity at 11:51 PM on June 11, 2001


Obviously a "rebate" implies you paid some taxes (or at least as much as the rebate amount).

Pracowity, if Americans truly believe they are paying too much in taxes (I certainly do), then why shouldn't Bush campaign on that issue? I didn't vote for him, but I'm happy I'll be getting a tax rebate and a tax cut because they really take too much.

The problem with all this tax cut talk is that it's not coming from the right place. Before we worry about income taxes, which already have progressive rates and individual exemptions, we need to address the horrendous way in which we collect Social Security taxes. As it is, the first 75,000 or so dollars you make are taxed at a rate of 6.x percent, and your employer (or yourself if you're self-employed) has to match that amount again. So essentially a 13 percent tax on the first 75,000 of income you make, but none after that. So in other words, Social Security is a regressive tax, in which the more money you make the lower the percentage you pay in taxes!

I don't particularly like the concept of Social Security, but if we're going to have such a system, it should at least be funded by taxes that are collected in the same way as income taxes. Someone making 12,000 dollars a year shouldn't have to pay social security taxes when they don't have to pay income taxes! ACK!
posted by daveadams at 6:13 AM on June 12, 2001


There was no rebate plan during the campaign, but at that point there was no need as we were in a boom. Although any tax cut sort of holds out the promise of "vote for me and get money back."

To his credit, Bush was not as shamless as Dole and Kemp with their giant 15% TAX CUT signs, which made the Republican Party look like a giant K-Mart.

Of course, posted by brucec at 6:21 AM on June 12, 2001


Here's a nice Quicken.com tax cut calculator that tells you exactly how much of a tax cut you'll get in each of the next 10 years.
posted by Witold at 6:33 AM on June 12, 2001


Has anyone else had this thought? This tax rebate could be construed as just another clever way for Bush to funnel money back to his campaign contributors. What do you suppose many taxpayers are going to have to use the money for? To pay for the increase in energy costs, of course. Both natural gas and petroleum products have gone up, and with the way things went last winter, that $300 may not even offset that. It wouldn't surprise me to see Bush setting around the office with several energy magnates laughing their asses off over this. To think that the American voters could be fooled into thinking he had their interest in mind, makes me laugh and feel despair at the same time. I, for one, do not mind paying taxes, and would gladly have the government keep the money if they would only use it more efficiently on something socially constructive.
posted by SteveS at 6:39 AM on June 12, 2001


I, for one, do not mind paying taxes, and would gladly have the government keep the money if they would only use it more efficiently on something socially constructive

I'm planning to donate my refund to various charities, which I will research ahead of time. I wish the US government would do a better job with social programs, but as it stands I'm almost happier to be getting the refund, since I can give it to organizations that I know do some good. I'm not sure how to feel about myself, thinking that ;)
posted by binkin at 7:07 AM on June 12, 2001


Wait a minute, let me get this straight: Dubya struts around some farm in Iowa and says, "Ya'll's gittin six hunnerd bucks back from the Eye Are Ess! Par-DEE!"... and you believed him?!
posted by m.polo at 7:42 AM on June 12, 2001


This is essentially just like printing more money to boost a sagging economy and history shows a jump in inflation will surely follow. Not surprisingly, the cash will not be doled out until the annual shopping frenzy begins.
posted by roboto at 7:45 AM on June 12, 2001


You know, I actually thought that everyone was going to get a check....and I thought the reason we all were going to get a check was so that we wouldn't notice/mind when millionaires begin to get ridiculously huge tax cuts starting next year.
posted by jennak at 7:57 AM on June 12, 2001


What a joke.

$300 might cover two months of heat in the Northeast next winter, if you're really frugal
posted by preguicoso at 8:00 AM on June 12, 2001


I don't think it's a joke. It's $300 of people's hard earned money back in their own hands to do with as they please. That's no laughing matter.
posted by Dreama at 8:14 AM on June 12, 2001


Why can't normally intelligent people understand that if you pay $500 in taxes, and someone else pays $5,000, and everyone's taxes are cut by ten percent, the other guy is going to get back more money than you?

It's not a payoff, it's just math. You want the big tax break? Make a couple million next year and pay several hundred thousand of that to the IRS. Pay nothing, you get nothing. What do you care what some millionaire you don't even know gets back a bag of money? He's been paying taxes ten times your whole salary for eight years.
posted by UncleFes at 8:18 AM on June 12, 2001


It wouldn't surprise me to see Bush setting around the office with several energy magnates laughing their asses off over this.

If you really believe this you need to get to the neurologist quickly because you surely have brain damage.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:25 AM on June 12, 2001


This is essentially just like printing more money to boost a sagging economy and history shows a jump in inflation will surely follow. Not surprisingly, the cash will not be doled out until the annual shopping frenzy begins.

Wrong. Printing money means adjusting the money supply, which leads to more inflation. This does no such thing - it merely puts money back into the hands of those who actually earned it.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:26 AM on June 12, 2001


Perhaps because, even though you might have fallen for the trick, you rightfully were suspicious of a campaigner promising you a financial reward in exchange for your vote.

"The tax rebate was intended to give a quick boost to the economy and to buy political support for the $1.35 trillion tax reduction legislation that President Bush signed into law on Thursday."

I don't know whether these rebates are going to do much about the economy (what will those married couples do with this fabulous wealth? buy coffee?), but I'm sure the pre-election propaganda for tax rebates bought a lot of votes.


Your comtempt for people who actually have the audacity to want to keep more of the money THAT THEY THEMSELVES EARNED is disgusting.
posted by ljromanoff at 8:27 AM on June 12, 2001


No, but when the President touts tax relief as the solution to high electricity costs, high gas costs, high heating oil costs, to the slowing economy, and the like, $300 is hardly enough to justify spouting the same old, "We need to have tax relief," as opposed to a more solid policy.

I do admire Bush for his ability to find a way to answer just about every single question with "tax relief". 5/11/01 Press Conference
posted by rmannion at 8:27 AM on June 12, 2001


It's not a payoff, it's just math. You want the big tax break? Make a couple million next year and pay several hundred thousand of that to the IRS. Pay nothing, you get nothing....What do you care what some millionaire you don't even know gets back a bag of money? He's been paying taxes ten times your whole salary for eight years.

Bullshit. The millionaire and his CPA are going to jump through loopholes. Furthermore, the top income tax bracket has been lowered, but nothing's been done for the little guy. So your millionaire friend is going to see $300 this year, and gobs of it the next. The minimum wage friend isn't going to see jack.

Yes, if this was easy math, I'd agree w/ you that we're proportionally paying the same. But we're not. The people who benefit from Bush are the rich, and the people who are paying for their tax credit are children in public schools, patients on Medicare....

In my opinion, my refund was $300 short. I did pay taxes; they were taken out of my paycheck every month.
posted by jennak at 8:41 AM on June 12, 2001


Bullshit. The millionaire and his CPA are going to jump through loopholes. Furthermore, the top income tax bracket has been lowered, but nothing's been done for the little guy. So your millionaire friend is going to see $300 this year, and gobs of it the next. The minimum wage friend isn't going to see jack.

The minimum wage friend isn't paying any income taxes already. How much of nothing do you expect to get back?
posted by ljromanoff at 8:43 AM on June 12, 2001


I do admire Bush for his ability to find a way to answer just about every single question with "tax relief".

Slick Georgie? :)

"I did NOT sleep with that oil executive!"

Bullshit

CPA's are not magicians. I have one. And I pay taxes, much more than I'd like. So do millionaires. Only, they pay a lot more than you do - because they can.
posted by UncleFes at 8:45 AM on June 12, 2001


What a joke. $300 might cover two months of heat in the Northeast next winter, if you're really frugal

Dude, it's still three hundred dollars.

The minimum wage friend isn't paying any income taxes already. How much of nothing do you expect to get back?

Well, as I mentioned in my previous comment, I think our minimum wage friend should expect to be refunded for his FICA and Medicare taxes, which are taken from everyone's paychecks (except for what you make over $75,000/year, that is).
posted by daveadams at 9:03 AM on June 12, 2001


How dare you say we're not magicians!!!

There are very few (i.e. I can't think of any, and tax is my life [that's depressing]) loopholes of the type you're thinking of left, jennak. Pretty much, if you make money during the year, you pay tax on it. There are ways to defer the tax, but not to avoid it altogether. People are just bitter because Bill Gates is going to pay $6 billion less in tax in 2001, and their reduction is only $200.

Maybe the solution is for Bill to pay tax to you. Would that make you happy?

Oliver Wendell Holmes: "Taxes are what we pay for a civilized society"
posted by OneBallJay at 9:10 AM on June 12, 2001


And dave, so is our minimum wage friend going to have his social security and medicare benefits reduced down the road, since he's not paying into the programs? His ass is already subsidized by the more affluent, why make it even more so?
posted by OneBallJay at 9:13 AM on June 12, 2001


I think our minimum wage friend should expect to be refunded for his FICA and Medicare taxes, which are taken from everyone's paychecks

Good luck. His grandma already spent them, because she was told that the government would take care of her in her old age, so she didn't bother to save anything. Which was fine back in the '50s, when there were 40 or so workers to every retiree. But when 2010 hits, and the baby boom starts retiring, what do you think is going to happen to your FICA and Medicare taxes? Do you think it was an accident that this little tax cut fiasco has a 2010 killdate?

The baby boomers aren't going to ask nicely, either. They are just going to reach into your paycheck and scoop.
posted by UncleFes at 9:13 AM on June 12, 2001


Anyway, it's unclear what this rebate even means. I haven't heard definitively one way or the other thus far, but I can't imagine it's anything but a refund on withholding already taken this year. Essentially, it's just giving us an early tax refund (that we would have gotten in April 2002 instead).

So it's really nothing to even discuss. Just fluff that isn't worth getting all riled up about.
posted by daveadams at 9:21 AM on June 12, 2001


And dave, so is our minimum wage friend going to have his social security and medicare benefits reduced down the road, since he's not paying into the programs?

No. I understand that that's how SS works now, but what I'm saying is if we have a Social Security program, why do we have to tie it to contributions at all? Why not have a graduated scale that goes up for all income (not just that under $75,000) and reduce the burden on lower-income individuals that way?

At least, if opponents of Bush's tax plan want to complain that Joe Minimum Wage isn't getting any benefits (since he pays no income tax) they should be complaining about this, not that he's not getting free money.

His ass is already subsidized by the more affluent, why make it even more so?

Well, that's just a philosophical point. My point is this: if we try to help out Joe Minimum Wage by giving him tax exemptions, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc. etc. then why are we, at the same time, taking 15+% of his meager income to pay for social services for other people? He is in need of social services, so why are we asking him to pay for others too? A great service to him would be to give him back that bit of his income instead and have other people pay for it.
posted by daveadams at 9:28 AM on June 12, 2001


Funny how many people I've spoken to about this issue agree with Binkin's idea. I'd personally prefer it if the government gave us an option to donate part or all of the refund back into welfare, education, or any of the other programs that will be cut into as a result of this measure. Now that would be something.
posted by birddog at 9:36 AM on June 12, 2001


Funny how many people I've spoken to about this issue agree with Binkin's idea. I'd personally prefer it if the government gave us an option to donate part or all of the refund back into welfare, education, or any of the other programs that will be cut into as a result of this measure. Now that would be something.

Nothing's stopping you my friend. Just sign over your check to the IRS and mail it back. They'd be happy to take it.
posted by ljromanoff at 9:54 AM on June 12, 2001


>His ass is already subsidized by the more affluent, why
>make it even more so?

>>Well, that's just a philosophical point. My point is this: if
>>we try to help out Joe Minimum Wage by giving him tax
>>exemptions, food stamps, subsidized housing, etc. etc.
>>then why are we, at the same time, taking 15+% of his
>>meager income to pay for social services for other
>>people?


Regarding the philosophical point: compared to other developed nations, Americans pay a very small portion of their income in taxes. Basically, we get a lot (government services, great schools, quality of life) for what little we pay for. You can't get something for nothing.

Secondly, by helping the people that need help, we're preserving our quality of life. So you can keep Joe Minimum Wage's dollars if you're okay with him hanging out on your front lawn.
posted by jennak at 10:11 AM on June 12, 2001


There's a desk somewhere in the Treasury that accepts contributions to pay off the national debt. According to this page, since the office opened in 1994, we've retired about $36 million of a total debt of $5.6 trillion, or approximately 0.0006% (thats less than 1% of 1%) of debt outstanding.

ljr, the money you're saying "belongs" to the taxpayers is, alas, "owed" by the taxpayers. The Democratic plan to pay off the debt -- well, at least substantially retire it -- with that money would reduce future interest payments by our children. Even if it were true that Bush's plan enacts a permanent cut in the estate tax, in the long run, this is going to cost more.

By the way, that notorious liberal rag Business Week does some of its usual predictable Bush bashing: A Snap, Crackle, and Pop -- The Tax Cut is Gone which illustrates what a cynical exercise in politics this "tax cut" really is. For someone like me, who believes that the long-run goal of lower tax rates and simplified tax regulations is a good one, this is a complete travesty of both goals.
posted by dhartung at 10:14 AM on June 12, 2001


The rebate is really simple. They lowered the tax percentage on the lowest $6000 of income by 5%. So if you made more than $6000 in taxable income, you get 5% of $6000 back, or $300. Why that needed a whole NYTimes article, I don't know.
posted by smackfu at 10:26 AM on June 12, 2001


ljr, the money you're saying "belongs" to the taxpayers is, alas, "owed" by the taxpayers. The Democratic plan to pay off the debt -- well, at least substantially retire it -- with that money would reduce future interest payments by our children. Even if it were true that Bush's plan enacts a permanent cut in the estate tax, in the long run, this is going to cost more.

The Bush plan also retires the debt, that not really the point.

It goes without saying that Americans are overtaxed and that our government is in debt. We can resolve both at the same time if that is our wish, but it would mean eliminating plenty of idiotic government programs that leak money out of Washington all over the place - which is fine with me.

However, if it comes down to tax relief versus debt payments, I'll take tax relief. Carrying debt is not necessarily an automatic negative, most of us have a certain amount of personal debt (speaking as someone who's closing on a house this month I can tell you something about debt) that allows us to provide for ourselves with a leverage against future income. Is this inherently bad? No. Does the federal government carry TOO MUCH debt? Certainly. Why? Because federal spending is out of control.
posted by ljromanoff at 10:54 AM on June 12, 2001


Regarding the philosophical point: compared to other developed nations, Americans pay a very small portion of their income in taxes. Basically, we get a lot (government services, great schools, quality of life) for what little we pay for. You can't get something for nothing.

You really think that we get a lot for what we pay for? Federal and state taxes consume nearly half my income. What do I get for that? Public schools? Have you been in one lately? Highways? Come visit Boston sometime and I'll show you a 10 mile stretch of highway that has a price tag now approaching $20 billion. Welfare? Terrific. A generation of men and women who live lives of quiet desparation convinced that the government owes them a living.

For 50 cents of every dollar I earn I deserve a hell of a lot more than that.

Secondly, by helping the people that need help, we're preserving our quality of life. So you can keep Joe Minimum Wage's dollars if you're okay with him hanging out on your front lawn.

What quality of life are we really preserving for people who live off the government dole? Are you really defending this?
posted by ljromanoff at 10:59 AM on June 12, 2001


I've never seem such ignorance in the general public as I have seen with reactions the this tax cut. If I see another local news story promo with the words "AND MILLIONS OF AMERICANS WON'T GET ANYTHING BACK", I am going to vomit. This is a Tax Refund Check. If you paid no taxes, why the hell should you get a refund? Millions of low income Americans DON'T PAY ANY TAXES. This tax refund does not "only help the rich" or whatever other ill-logical conclusion you have reached. Everyone who paid any taxes gets a percentage back. Why is that unfair? I think it is the best thing I've seen the national goverment do in recent memory.
posted by bonzo at 11:02 AM on June 12, 2001


Come visit Boston sometime and I'll show you a 10 mile stretch of highway that has a price tag now approaching $20 billion.

bashing the the big dig? its worth every penny!
posted by saralovering at 11:07 AM on June 12, 2001


Come visit Boston sometime and I'll show you a 10 mile stretch of highway that has a price tag now approaching $20 billion.

bashing the the big dig? its worth every penny!


Sara, I forgot that although we live on different planets politically that we are neighbors geographically.

And yes, I am bashing the Big Dig - although that new bridge sure is pretty. Too bad it's not gilded in gold though, considering how much it cost.
posted by ljromanoff at 11:23 AM on June 12, 2001


You really think that we get a lot for what we pay for? Federal and state taxes consume nearly half my income.

Wah!! What an exaggeration, LJR. In Sweden (the most taxed country in the world), they have beautiful roads, great schools, great health care, little crime -- and they give half of their income back in taxes.

Public schools? Have you been in one lately?

Yes. And because of them I went to a darn good college for free, thanks to a public scholarship program.

Highways?

Our highways are rather ridiculous, but it takes so much to upkeep them because there are so many g-d miles of highway! We don't have rapid rail, and too many don't carpool, take the bus, or rail to work.

Come visit Boston sometime and I'll show you a 10 mile stretch of highway that has a price tag now approaching $20 billion.

Oh, LJR, I never knew you felt that way about me.

Welfare?....What quality of life are we really preserving for people who live off the government dole? Are you really defending this?

Social welfare is necessary. There is always going to be someone in crisis, someone who needs temporary help. Most of the time, such person's need is temporary, and s/he desires is to get back on two feet. But there are always going to be some that will abuse any system, in any country, no matter how much money is or isn't spent on welfare. But you have Clinton to thank for welfare reform -- it's now more efficient, effective, and less likely to be abused.
posted by jennak at 11:47 AM on June 12, 2001


You really think that we get a lot for what we pay for? Federal and state taxes consume nearly half my income.

Wah!! What an exaggeration, LJR.


28% Federal, plus 6% state, plus 15% FICA, plus gas tax, plus sales tax, plus capital gains tax, etc. etc. etc. If anything, half is an underestimate.

In Sweden (the most taxed country in the world), they have beautiful roads, great schools, great health care, little crime -- and they give half of their income back in taxes.

Give back?? You think all income derives from the government? And the taxation rate in Sweden is closer to 65% - 70% actually, and that's after recent tax reforms in the early 1990s in order to pull their economy out of a 20 year downward slide after most of their famed social welfare programs were installed in the 1960s.

Yes. And because of them I went to a darn good college for free, thanks to a public scholarship program.

Well, that's nice for you. Don't forget to send out thank you notes to all the strangers who helped pay for your "free" education whether they wanted to or not.

Our highways are rather ridiculous, but it takes so much to upkeep them because there are so many g-d miles of highway!

Yes there are a lot of roads. And yes the government wastes a lot of money in its typical inefficient fashion maintaining them.

Come visit Boston sometime and I'll show you a 10 mile stretch of highway that has a price tag now approaching $20 billion.

Oh, LJR, I never knew you felt that way about me.


Hey, you're making me blush - cut that out.

Social welfare is necessary. There is always going to be someone in crisis, someone who needs temporary help. Most of the time, such person's need is temporary, and s/he desires is to get back on two feet. But there are always going to be some that will abuse any system, in any country, no matter how much money is or isn't spent on welfare.

While there have been, and always will be poor people, their poverty does not in and of itself give them the right to others' income. Redistribution of money by the force of law will do little to alleviate the plight of the poor. The government has spent trillions in the attempt, and has achieved little more than thousands and thousands of people growing up in crime ridden, downtrodden projects.

But you have Clinton to thank for welfare reform -- it's now more efficient, effective, and less likely to be abused.

No, I have a Republican Congress and a fed up American public to thank for that. Clinton vetoed reform after reform until it was simply political suicide for him to keep doing it.
posted by ljromanoff at 12:23 PM on June 12, 2001


what i never understood was why spending tax dollars on social programs, highways, welfare, schools etc etc was so bad in the eyes of conservatives, BUT they also thought spending trillions of tax dollars on a huge defense buildup was a great idea.
posted by saralovering at 12:49 PM on June 12, 2001


what i never understood was why spending tax dollars on social programs, highways, welfare, schools etc etc was so bad in the eyes of conservatives, BUT they also thought spending trillions of tax dollars on a huge defense buildup was a great idea.

Because national defense is a Constitutionally mandated function of the federal government and a thousand boondoggle social programs aren't?
posted by ljromanoff at 12:57 PM on June 12, 2001


from the U.S. Constitution, Article I Section 8: The Congress shall have power to... provide for the common defense and general welfare of the United States.

from the dictionary: gen·er·al adj. Concerned with, applicable to, or affecting the whole or every member of a class or category


and: wel·fare n. Health, happiness, and good fortune; well-being. Prosperity.

so it is Constitutionally mandated. it's just a matter of how it's interpreted and how Congress decides to implement it, within review and interpretation of the Supreme Court.

Congress created those social programs, within its Constitutionally mandated powers.

the Supreme Court gave it the o.k., within its Constitutionally mandated powers.

therefore, the thousand boondoggle social programs are just as mandated as defense spending. this is, of course, subject to re-interpretation by the Supreme Court.
posted by tolkhan at 1:30 PM on June 12, 2001


Not quite -- you cannot use current definition and understanding to identify the intent of the Constitutional framers, nor of the minds of the interpreters of today (judges and constitutional law experts).

The General Welfare is not the happiness of the people, but of the national government. Remember, the people are citizens of the United States, but not the United States itself.

Thus, the general welfare, in I.8, is merely this: The Congress shall have the power to keep the government stable. That's why it is in the same section as the common defense.

It has been misinterpreted, just as the critics in the Federalist Papers (#41) worried, and to his discredit, James Madison said would never happen, to mean that the Federal Government has virtually unlimited power to do as it pleases.
posted by dwivian at 1:56 PM on June 12, 2001


but it's all in how they interpret it now that matters. trust me, i'm not a big fan of governmental social programs, but as far as those with the power to say otherwise are concerned, it's all ok.
posted by tolkhan at 2:07 PM on June 12, 2001


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