"Tax Clarity
October 11, 2000 6:33 AM   Subscribe

"Tax Clarity was created to help you decipher what the tax plans by both presidential candidates mean to you personally." Enter some information from your paycheck and find out how much you'd save using either Bush's or Gore's tax plans. via dandot.
posted by phooey (37 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Thought I'd post this here so that MeFi readers can view a quick overview of what the calculators produce in terms of savings.

I entered $50,000 as my gross salary with one dependent (my two-year-old daughter), and no health insurance.

"You would save approximately $500.00 under the Gore proposal.
You will pay approximately $7653.75 in taxes (not subtracting other credits we didn't ask about).
Which is a savings of appr. 6.13 percent."

Deduction Savings: 0.00
CDCT Credit: 0.00
CDCT Stay Home Parent Credit: 500.00
HealthCare Credit: 0.00
Long-term Care Credit: 0.00

"You will save approximately $1681.25 under the Bush proposal.
You will pay approximately $6472.50 in taxes (not subtracting other credits we didn't ask about).
Which is a savings of approximately 20.62percent."

Deductions and Rate Reduction: 1181.25
Child Tax Credit: 500.00

Eye opening figures, don't you think?
posted by argus at 8:10 AM on October 11, 2000

Why, you must be one of these "richest one percent" people Gore keeps talking about. ;-)

My entire office ran their numbers through the refund calculator. Most wouldn't even get a refund under a Gore administration, unless they bought an electric car or installed a solar panel on the roof of their house.
posted by dandot at 9:06 AM on October 11, 2000

I'd save $600 or so under the Bush plan, and $0 under Gore. Neat to see a calculator like this!
posted by hijinx at 9:12 AM on October 11, 2000

I guess my difficulty is that I don't want a tax cut. I want them to pay down the national debt instead.

posted by Steven Den Beste at 9:38 AM on October 11, 2000

Gore Savings: $0.00
Bush Savings: $951.00

posted by tiaka at 9:47 AM on October 11, 2000

The money you won’t be getting back under Gore pays off some of the National debt. If that isn’t paid off that fantabulous one grand you’re getting is going to mean less and less.

Spend the surplus on benefits! Don’t give it back! I know that’s a terribly unpopular opinion but I had to say it.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 9:50 AM on October 11, 2000

For me:
Gore Savings: $0.00
Bush Savings: $1683.00

But I still wouldn't ever vote for the guy. Is that all people are supposed to care about? Saving a few hundred bucks is supposed to make the country a better place to live?
posted by mathowie at 9:56 AM on October 11, 2000

See, that's where we differ in opinion. I don't believe big government = better government. At the end of the day, I pay more than half of what I earn back to the government, when you add up federal and state tax, sales tax, and property tax. That's obscene.

Is Bush perfect? Of course not. But I don't think he's as much of an idiot as he comes off on camera. And I think he's smart enough to know his limitations, and he delegates authority. Look at his running mate -- Cheney is strong where Bush is weak.

Gore says he plans to use the surplus to pay down the debt, but can we really believe him? I mean, he's already proven himself as a serial liar. Clinton lied, but only when he backed himself into a corner and had no other way out. Gore lies for no apparent reason. That's much worse, in my book.
posted by dandot at 10:19 AM on October 11, 2000

Try a base level of, say, $25,000; then one of $250,000. What's the national average in the US, anyway?
posted by holgate at 10:21 AM on October 11, 2000

Here's mine:
Gore: $ 392.00
Bush: $1217.50

There does seem to be a trend here. Apparently MetaFiltarians are all filthy rich, at least according to what Gore said last week. Shame on us.

posted by netbros at 10:24 AM on October 11, 2000

dandot: you haven't answered the question. Are individual tax cuts better for the economy than the repayment of government debt? And if not, how can you claim to be opposed to big government?
posted by holgate at 10:27 AM on October 11, 2000

Pardon my grammar: can you support the "reduction of government" without supporting the repayment of government debt?
posted by holgate at 10:28 AM on October 11, 2000

Mathowie wrote:
For me:
Gore Savings: $0.00
Bush Savings: $1683.00

But I still wouldn't ever vote for the guy. Is that all people are supposed to care about? Saving a few hundred bucks is supposed to make the country a better place to live?

I can see where you are coming from and admire your principles. However, if I don't have to work my a** into the ground just to make ends meet, I'll be able to spend more time with my daughter which definatley makes the country a better place to live for her.

posted by argus at 10:35 AM on October 11, 2000

holgate: Bush has earmarked almost half of the surplus for debt reduction (according to his website, he has over $2.4 trillion reserved for saving social security and debt reduction).

My problem with Gore is more with his campaign tactics. He claims that Bush's tax cuts benefit only the "richest one percent", which is clearly not true.
posted by dandot at 10:45 AM on October 11, 2000

Has anyone considered that the thing is BS - its numbers are cooked? I definititely get that impression - not only due the fact that its title is a Bush slogan.
posted by mikel at 10:56 AM on October 11, 2000

I agree with Dan. I mean, Al Gore's record has proven that he can not keep up the govn't at today's size. There are 100's of millions missing here, 5 billion there, and so on. Govn't books are such a mess that they can't even do an audit, there's actually a car listed for 96 million in Department of Agriculture. That's insane. Clinton and Gore may ask you if you're better off now that you were 8 years ago. Yes, and I'm sure it has only to do with them being in office, those 2 people, yep, they did everything. American people? who's that? The rest of the govn't? Huh? And now, Gore's campaigning on expanding the govn't by 5 times? What will happen then? I'd rather see my 'few hundred bucks' go to me, the citizen, than down the drain. There's the now-famous girl without the desk incident, that Gore insists is not a lie. 1, if it's not, it was on his watch, for he believes the state should have less power over where the funding goes in the state, he believes that the big federal govn't should make the decicions. 2, the principal denied the claim, and said there were boxes with expensive equiptment that took up the room or whatever, and she didn't have the desk for a period. That's that. I really don't know who to believe here, but either way, it does not look good for Gore. Anyway, I should stop, there are my opinions and if someone should agree with me, then, whooray.
posted by tiaka at 11:00 AM on October 11, 2000

I'll give them this -- their methods are open. (See FAQ.)

The thing I don't like about this is pretty much what Steven said. The question of how much of a tax cut you will get should be secondary to the question of whether we should get a tax cut at all. I don't believe there's any question that the GOP favors a tax cut while the Dems do not. The GOP reluctantly includes debt reduction (strange position, that); the Dems reluctantly include tax reduction.

A fair comparison would not be between whose tax plan does better by you, but comparing both tax and debt plans. So that little counter at the top might say:

Gore savings $0
Bush savings $1500

But also

Gore national debt target after four years:
Bush national debt target after four years:

posted by dhartung at 11:05 AM on October 11, 2000


Social Security health after 4 years of Gore:
Social Security health after 4 years of Bush:

Where's Nader's tax calculator???
posted by ethmar at 11:30 AM on October 11, 2000

my political buddies mailing list hashed over the TaxClairty.com figures a week or so ago. The point made by the political pros was that the BIG difference is that the Bush plan is strictly dead-on-arrival: it will _never_ be enacted; Demos are strongly opposed and most of the senior tax-policy Republicans in the House and Senate are highly skeptical (some even on the record).

Expect any actual Bush administration enacted tax law to "phase out" the benefits starting at the upper middle class level $50K for an individual, $80K for a family of four, and to be totally phased out (i.e., not one thin dime in tax reduction) at $80K an individual and $150K for a family of four.

posted by MattD at 11:38 AM on October 11, 2000

Isn't it likely that the House will go over to the Dems? While the Senate stays Republican? Which makes both plans luftslotten?

dandot: maybe I'd be a little less chary if you were less dependent upon party slogans such as "saving social security". Sure, it alliterates. What does it mean?

Finally, on the "one percent" thing: anyone got accurate figures for the US salary distribution curve? Mean, median numbers? Anyone?
posted by holgate at 12:13 PM on October 11, 2000

My reason for wanting to pay down the debt is that "debt service" is now the single biggest line item in the budget, and has been for years.

If we can just be patient for about ten years and get that down, there will be plenty of money freed up for BOTH tax reduction AND increases in social programs.

Debt is a financial cancer. That's why I don't have any.
posted by Steven Den Beste at 12:18 PM on October 11, 2000

Debt is a financial cancer. That's why I don't have any.

It's also why -- regardless of one's politics -- you have to admire the job that Gordon Brown's done in the past three and a half years.

But isn't the "jam today" attitude towards tax cuts simply an extension of the trend towards consumption-fuelled personal debt (credit cards, margin investments etc) which poses an ever-greater threat to the US economy?
posted by holgate at 1:17 PM on October 11, 2000

hah! as a student, i'm part of the poor people that the tax cuts are supposed to help -- i haven't paid state or federal taxes yet. (filed, but got everything back). but still, i put in that i made $10,000 and got nothing back from gore, but about $150 from bush. and i'm still not voting for him.
posted by sugarfish at 1:23 PM on October 11, 2000

Just as a side note: most conservative-leaning publications I've seen claim that the cost of Gore's new spending + Gore's tax cuts >= Bush's new spending + Bush's tax cuts; most liberal-leaning publications that I've seen don't mention how much Gore's new spending proposals cost.

Caveat: I'm a pretty committed Republican, and haven't done a deep analysis of this.
posted by drothgery at 1:32 PM on October 11, 2000

Tax savings under Gore's plan: 6%
Tax savings under Bush's plan: 20%
Tax savings under Browne's plan: 100%
posted by daveadams at 1:47 PM on October 11, 2000

How about this assessment from the Economist? No numbers, but plenty of criticism on both sides... with a consensus on debt reduction as the main necessity of any economic plan.

(For even-handed coverage, you could do a lot worse than bookmarking the North American index.)
posted by holgate at 1:50 PM on October 11, 2000

The Bush plan irrelevancies section
R&D Tax Credit
Raise the Cap of Corporate Charitable Deductions

The Gore plan irrelevancies section
Post-Secondary Education Credit
Energy: Energy Efficient Homes
Energy: Increase Funding for Weatherization Program
Energy: Consumer Tax Credit for Clean Power
Energy: Funding for State and Local Governments
Energy: Assistance for Communities to Solve Environment Problems
Expand EITC
Estate Tax Exemption
Tax Credit for School Construction and Modernization
Tuition Savings Accounts
Expand Worker Training and Skill Development
Third Round of Empowerment Zones
Small Business Insurance Tax Credit
Low-Income Housing Credits
Technology Bonds for Communities
Brownfield Incentive
New Market Initiatives
Better America Bonds
Research and Experimentation Tax Credit

It appears that Mikel is indeed correct. Just because an author claims to be non-partisan does not make them so. The important answers are often found in the details (and in this case in the ones the author chooses to overlook or trivialize).

posted by Sqwerty at 2:23 PM on October 11, 2000

Bush: $646
Gore: $0

posted by pnevares at 2:24 PM on October 11, 2000

Dan, you ever try to get you drivers licence renewed at the DMV in Milwaukee? I was there for two and a half HOURS during their so-called off-peak hours. There were 35 people in line ahead of me, just as many behind me, and only three employees.

A friend of mine just married a gentleman from England. The INS is so backed up that it's going to be three years before they get their INS interviews dealt with.

The city of Detroit doesn't plow the streets in the winter.

I'm a little scared of what "less government" would look like.
posted by mimi at 2:32 PM on October 11, 2000

Also want to point out that while the federal government is insanely large, and overly beauracratic that the "reinventing government" initiative has trimmed a lot of federal fat. There's still a lot more to be done though.
posted by owillis at 2:38 PM on October 11, 2000


Tiaka, It appears the press was so eager for one more sound bite that some of the media failed to fact check the story before rushing to press. It appears Gore was correct, and not the urban legend that the bush workers tried to sell.
posted by Sqwerty at 2:44 PM on October 11, 2000

I'm not in a position to evaluate their methodolgy, but I believe this is a partisan site because:

--you plug numbers in for the bush calculation and it gives you an answer with one or two questions

--as you're going through the gore plan, it says things like
"Next, we need to figure out the qualified work-related expenses that you paid for child care for all your children under the age of 13 as well as the children between the ages of 13 and 16. The rules that apply to qualify your expense are complex and involved."

it seems clear to me that they are promoting the idea that not only will bush save you tax dollars, but that the gore plan would be too difficult for you to decipher, even if it *did* offer you a savings.

in any case, I'm with those who want to pay the debt down. I do the same thing with my personal finances.

the whole theory of deficit spending is that it gets you through the hard times, and then is paid down--and perhaps a surplus created.

posted by rebeccablood at 3:39 PM on October 11, 2000

mimi: you just cited several excellent examples of why big government is a "bad thing". When I say I want less government, I don't mean that the DMV should cut down on their employees, or that there should be fewer plows on the streets in the winter.

I simply mean that when we start talking about creating or expanding yet another government program under the guise of fairness and compassion, we should take a long, hard look at how efficiently other government agencies operate.

To be quite honest, you should be a little scared of that.

And rebecca, the reason why the Bush calculator requires so few figures is because Bush's refund plan is simple: if you pay taxes, you get a refund, period. Their methodology is posted on their site for all to read.

I'm still amazed that people still hold the opinion that Bush != Debt Reduction. It's just not true. Half of the projected $4.6 trillion surplus is earmarked for social security and debt reduction. "Governor Bush will also pay down a record amount of the debt held by the public, which will fall to the lowest level since the Great Depression (as a share of the economy)."
posted by dandot at 6:51 AM on October 12, 2000

I simply mean that when we start talking about creating or expanding yet another government program under the guise of fairness and compassion, we should take a long, hard look at how efficiently other government agencies operate.

Hear hear! Bring back the black ops groups of the Reagan Era!!

And what shall we say about increasing "defense" spending? This is 2 debates now where the Republican candidate stated that the military "should be out fighting wars". Yeah, there's the answer.

posted by ethmar at 8:49 AM on October 12, 2000

It is easy to promise a tax break at election time, the real question is to evaluate if it is in your best interest to get a tax cut instead of actual debt reduction and critical services that foster a better and safer society.

If you really believe Bush equals easier taxes and less government, you need to look back to what the family team did during his father's administration. Under Cheney's guidance our military waged one of the shorter and the most decidely expensive war of our nation's history. His dad, like Reagan increased the size of the federal government and created a large portion of the debt that the current administration has fought to pay off. We don't need eighties style government that promises one thing, while actually providing the mirror opposite. Pay off the debt in a responsible instead of feeding people the easy (and historically duplicitous) answers they crave.

posted by Sqwerty at 9:23 AM on October 12, 2000

There will be no money, or not enough to make a marked impact, on the National Debt after Bush’s proposed tax cut. You can’t have one with the other.
posted by capt.crackpipe at 3:30 AM on October 13, 2000

The upshot is that over ten years, Bush cuts taxes and increases spending by $1.6 trillion and pays off $1.5 trillion of debt, with $900 billion left to finance new personal retirement accounts in Social Security. The cost of Gore's program is, as mentioned, hard to calculate, but it could easily reach $2.5 trillion or even higher. The prevailing assumption that Gore would pay down more debt than Bush would is probably wrong.

...from an article by Ramesh Ponnuru, senior editor of the National Review. Now, TNR has a decidedly conservative slant, but he does point out that Gore's budget numbers are not just fuzzy, they're intentionally misleading. He double-counts tobacco tax revenue, he uses the rosiest possible projections of economic growth, and creates vague proposals whose cost is impossible to estimate. Bush, on the other hand, uses conservative revenue projections, doesn't double-count any revenue, and has pretty specific proposals.

The actual amount each candidate would actually devote to debt reduction probably depends on how the economy does and what the actual revenue figures turn out to be. But each candidate promises to devote significant sums to debt reduction. It's just a matter of which one you believe.

Finally, there is a significant school of thought in economic academia that suggests that the national economy is fundamentally different from an average household economy. The reason we have a surplus now is not because we have trimmed spending; we haven't. But our economy has grown so powerfully that revenues have beat all estimates. Our national debt, even if larger in absolute dollars, is a smaller percentage of GDP than it was ten years ago. By promoting economic growth and consequential revenue increases through fair tax reform and reduction, we can outgrow our debt in the long run, as long as we don’t add to it. Paying off our debt, however, means calling in those T-Bills and savings bonds that some folks rely on as part of their investment portfolios. Not only is that undesirable if taken to an extreme, but it’s also impractical. It will reduce the savings rate by taking away a valuable investment vehicle and actually reduce the flow wealth from wealthy taxpayers to savers and investors (through interest payments) who are likely to have those T-Bills.

posted by mikewas at 11:25 AM on October 13, 2000

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