Income Taxes

The Federal income tax forms are confusing and complex - what are we getting for our money? 

First, a far larger share of our tax revenue - more than half -goes to the military than any comparable country. Our military budget now exceeds the defense expenditure of all other nations combined.  Second, because of our reliance on the private market for provision of health care, another large portion of our tax revenue – almost 8% of GDP - goes into health   Eliminating weapons programs we no longer need and reducing our more than 700 foreign military bases would yield $200-300 billion in yearly revenues — restoring 1/7th to 1/5th of our projected $1.4 trillion deficit.

Are U.S. income taxes the highest in the world?

No. In Germany, France, the UK, Spain and Scandinavia people pay higher income taxes.  However, in return they receive health care, child care and education including higher education, all at little or no out of pocket cost.

How can they afford to pay those higher taxes?

Imagine you did not have to pay insurance premiums, deductibles and co-pays, day care fees, student loans, because your taxes took care of them. In the U.S. you have to pay for these things (or suffer serious consequences) even if they aren’t called taxes.

Politicians have been saying for years that they are cutting taxes. How come my taxes never seem to go down?

Actually taxes have declined; we now have the lowest income tax rate since 1950.  However, the bulk of this decline has been taxes on the highest incomes.   Between 1947 and 1980 the highest marginal tax rate, the rate applied to income above a set level ranged between 70% and 90%. Those top rates have come down to 35%, which is your top rate if you make $373,650 or more.  In contrast, the lowest federal income tax rate fell from 14% to 10%. Thus most of the benefits of the tax cuts during the past 30 years have gone to a small portion of the population that receives a very large share of total income.

Would it help to raise taxes on the rich? 

Restoring corporate and income tax rates to those of 50 years ago for households making over $200,000 would generate an additional $384 billion in revenue.  If corporate taxes were also restored to their 1961 levels, they would generate a further additional $485 billion in revenue.  Added to the savings from reducing military spending, we would come close to balancing the federal budget. 

OK, so military spending cuts plus higher income taxes on the rich could plug most of the budget gap, but don't we have a long term debt problem? 

Both our annual deficit and our need to borrow (the debt problem) will shrink as the economy recovers, job growth resumes and personal incomes rise, provided we don’t stop the stimulus too soon. Unfortunately, for a combination of right wing ideology and a misplaced concern about inflation, the President and Congress seem to be doing just that —stopping the stimulus too soon.  This risks cutting off what is already a very weak economic recovery and pushing us back into recession.

Won’t any additional Federal income taxes we collect now or savings from spending cuts just get eaten up paying for Social Security for the Baby Boomers?

Income taxes do not pay for Social Security; this program is financed by the Social Security payroll tax (FICA).  Right now people only pay Social Security payroll taxes on the first $106,800 of their earned income. A simple and just reform in the financing of Social Security — removing this cap on income subject to the Social Security tax — would secure benefits for projected recipients into the foreseeable future.

There is no such cap on the Medicare tax, but I hear that growth in Medicare and Medicaid are the really big problems. How do we deal that? 

Indeed, Medicare and Medicaid costs keep increasing. Taxes won’t fix this one. We have to stop giving money away to insurance companies that spend on administrative overhead up 30% of the health money we pay them.  In contrast, administrative costs for Medicare are only about 3%.

Film Discussion: The Price We Pay

January 30, 2017
· 51 rsvps
The Price We Pay blows the lid off the dirty world of corporate malfeasance — the dark history and dire present-day reality of big-business tax avoidance, tax havens - and what we need to do to stop this.  DSA member Bill Barclay, who has a cameo role in the film, will facilitate the discussion. Watch the film prior to the discussion.

Full film available on Vimeo.

How to Plug in New Members

February 01, 2017
· 18 rsvps

Is your DSA chapter growing quickly and you're trying desperately to find ways to plug new members into your chapter's work? Never fear! On this conference call an experienced DSA organizer will go over the basics of new member outreach and developing a plan for plugging new members into your chapter's work. Most of the call will be devoted to troubleshooting specific issues you're facing, so please brainstorm some issues beforehand that you want to bring up on the call.  8 PM ET; 7 PM CT; 7 PM MT; 7 PM PT.

Film Discussion: Salt of the Earth

February 05, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA members Shelby Murphy and Deborah Rosenfelt in discussing Salt of the Earth, a captivating film made in 1954 by blacklisted writers and actors about a strike at a New Mexico zinc mine. Well before the resurgence of feminism in the 1960s, these filmmakers were exploring gender inequality and solidarity. Available on Netflix.

Shelby Murphy is a Latina from Texas and former Young Democratic Socialists co-chair. Professor Emerita of Women’s Studies at the University of Maryland, Deborah Rosenfelt researched the making of the film and its aftermath for the reissued screenplay. Here is her blogpost about the film.

 

Film Discussion: Documentaries of People's History in Texas

April 02, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join DSA members Glenn Scott and Richard Croxdale to discuss videos produced by People’s History in Texas (PHIT), a project that brings to life the stories of ordinary people in significant socio-political movements in Texas. They will discuss The Rag, their newest documentary, which tells the story of an influential underground paper based in Austin, Texas, from 1966-77. Click here to view Part I (the early years as an all-volunteer paper covering the student, anti-Vietnam and Civil Rights movements), Part II (the impact of Women’s Liberation on the paper) and Part III (building community: covering local politics, nukes, co-ops, feminist institutions). But also check out the video on the Stand-Ins about a group of university students who led a movement to desegregate Austin’s movie theaters in 1961.

Film Discussion: Rosa [Luxemburg]

May 31, 2017
· 12 rsvps

Join DSA member Jason Schulman to discuss the film Rosa, directed by feminist filmmaker Margarethe von Trotta. View it here at no cost before the discussion. Marxist theorist and economist Rosa Luxemburg (1871-1919) played a key role in German socialist politics. Jason edited Rosa Luxemburg: Her Life and Legacy and has a chapter in Rosa Remix.

Film Discussion: The Free State of Jones

June 11, 2017
· 4 rsvps

Join Victoria Bynum, Distinguished Professor Emeritus of History, Texas State University, San Marcos, to discuss The Free State of Jones. STX Entertainment bought the film rights to Bynum's book of the same title. She also served as a consultant and appears in a cameo scene. What was the Free State of Jones? During the Civil War, an armed band of deserters led by Newt Knight, a non-slaveholding white farmer, took to the swamps of southeastern Mississippi and battled against the Confederacy in an uprising popularly known as “The Free State of Jones.” Joining Newt in this rebellion was Rachel, a slave. From their relationship, there developed a controversial mixed-race community that endured long after the Civil War had ended. View the film here for $6 before the discussion.