Why is it unfair for the poor to be tax exempt?

Something I’ve seen when discussing the notion of Obama’s tax policy is that it’s ‘unfair’. I don’t understand why it’s unfair when the unequal distribution of wealth is so unfair.

Generally I find when people are using the fairness argument they ignore that completely. They talk about the ‘poor robbing the rich’ as though the rich somehow deserve to be disproportionately wealthy as compared to the relative effort of their labor.

I understand pragmatically why we want a competitive system and the underlying philosphical notions of capitalism, but I don’t understand why people can bring it up as an argument of ‘fairness’, when the system is unfair to begin with.

I think people object to an overt wealth redistribution. A Robin Hood notion of take from the rich and give it to the poor.

On that basis I agree with conservatives it is wrong. However, I have no issue with the social contract and having the very wealthy carry proportionally more weight. In the end a prosperous country overall is in their interests as well. Would you want to be a millionaire in, say, Somalia?

And remember the poor pay plenty in taxes. Having them not pay income tax does not absolve them of things like sales tax which is regressive.

Data point: according to Wikipedia the 2007 US budget was $2,730 Billion, which works out to about $13,300 per head.
If you don’t want to go in debt, but still have that budget, you’re going to have to tax the wealthy (people and companies) more than the poor.

It really depends on what your concept of ‘fairness’. There is vast group of people, especially in the US (I have been led to believe), that think it is ‘fair’ that people get what they get. If you are good at something, and get payed accordingly, good for you.

There are other people that feel that being good in something is related to luck (in having an ability, growing up in a happy household or whatever you think influences where people end up in society). These people would propose a system with more wealth ditribution.

No one can say that any of these views is right or wrong, it is just a personal opinion.

It is hard to draw sharp lines on that but there is some sense of right and wrong here.

If you invent a new widget and it is wildly popular then you certainly deserve the rewards. I think people view the cash sports stars and actors make a little more suspiciously. A benchwarmer in professional baseball makes $380,000 in his first year (and it goes up from there).

Extend it to CEOs as well. In Europe they make something like 50:1 more money than the average pay in their companies. In the US it is something like 250:1. At some point it starts to get absurd.

What is and is not fair is entirely relative. On one hand it’s fair to help out the poor because it hurts the wealthier people less to pay higher taxes than for the poor. It’s not fair that one person gets to live in the lap of luxury, with toilet seats made of gold, and fourteen cars in the garage of his 20000 squarefoot mansion for doing a few appearances and such while someone else works 2 jobs to keep her 3 kids warm, feed, and clothed.

On the other hand, it’s fair that since everyone benefits about the same from taxes that everyone should pay in the same amount. It’s not fair that someone who spent many years in school, and works long hours and makes a nice wage has to pay many times more for the same roads, police force, and other services than someone else who works part time at Burger King and lives with his parents. After all, we use this same mentality for gym memberships, internet, cable, and any other number of services.

The first fair is an appeal to humanity, because no one wants to see others suffer. But if we go too far in that direction, we end up in true socialism. There’s no longer any incentive to work harder or make more money because you end up with all the same stuff. The second is an appeal to capitalism and the survival of the fittest; if you work harder, you get more stuff. But if we go too far in that direction, the burden of poverty is just too high, where all the haves are fine, but the have-nots just can’t survive.
So, is it unfair? I’d say sure, but either alternative is equally unfair, it’s just a question as to which demographic you’re being unfair to.

First, I think your argument would be more complete if you can argue why the current system is unfair.

Then, you have to first explain why unfair distribution of wealth is unfair. Sounds easy, right? The great many people who believe that the unfair distribution of wealth is fair are those people who understand the notion of value. The more value one brings to society/to a job/to any transaction, the more that person should be compensated. I don’t see how you can think this is unfair.

I don’t think that it is unfair that some reap the benefits of their hard work, innovation, luck, whatever, and in the end have more than others. How it becomes fair to then “redistribute” that earned wealth simply baffles me.

For the record, I have no problem with the poor, whatever that means, to be exempt from income taxes. It is when that exemption turns into a refund of taxes never paid that I draw the line. Fairness is never an issue when taxes are demanded, why should it be an issue when exemption from same be considered?

Mom taught me at age 5 or so that life isn’t fair.

It’s easy. “Unfairness” is utterly subjective.


But you are basing it off an erroneous notion of value. Very few people are actually producing anything who are fabulously wealthy. There are far more inventors who do not own their own ingenuity, and day labororers who do not own their production than there are counterparts who do.

Ownership is based off of simple paper organization. The idea that people made their wealth through ingenuity is largely ludicrous. If you have a lot of money and a good money manager you will only get richer. That doesn’t apply merit to you in any way.

Also, wealth is generated by the fruits of someone’s labor. If you are benefitting disproportionately then you are not making money off of your own labor, they are making money off of the labor of others.

Oftentimes people make millions off of the ‘meritocracy’ of taking advantage of unequal situations, ‘leverage’, you see this in Hollywood all the time where desperate writers get terrible deals on their screenplays while the movie goes on to make a billion dollars. They of course took the deal because they had not leverage to bank on. They took the only deal that was offered.

Also taxing the rich more than the poor isn’t taking money from the rich and giving it to the poor. It is the cessation of taking money from the poor. Not exactly the same thing.

whack-a-mole makes a good point. Regressive taxes hurt the poor more than the rich.

Rich people are rich because of a trick of the system. If you change it, you won’t be hurting the rich for the benefit of the poor only changing how the loopholes benefit different people.

My neighbor thinks its unfair that actors in Hollywood has a more attractive spouses than he does. Government should probably remedy that.

Again you’re still addressing the straw man and not the argument. We’re not talking about taking something from someone, or giving something to someone, but about no longer taking something from someone that you are currently taking.

So, you argument basically boils down essentially to: People who assemble cars are productive. People who buy all the tools, parts, and a place for them to assemble them, are not. And that is patently false.

I would further challenge the OP to describe one profession that does not in some way benefit from the labor of others…

This is the American definition of ‘true Socialism’, which is equal to some purely theoretical form of Communism*. :eek:

Actually in Europe we have true Socialism and billionaires, all in the same country. :cool:

*Even in Soviet Russia, there were wealthy people (e.g. the leaders of the Communist Party).

No, that is not a straw man. Money is fungible. If you want the same budget, taking less from some means taking more from others.

I don’t think anyone thinks that poor people should be exempt from the income tax. But Obama is talking about, not a zero tax, but increasing the amount that is given to people in excess of what they pay in taxes.

It is disingenous to call this a tax cut, or making the poor “tax exempt”. It is a cash welfare payment.

I wouldn’t be able to. That’s not the point. The rich benefit from increased consumer spending borne from lower taxes.

I’m not going to let this get twisted. These arguments generally do. They try and get you to say it’s unfair or the rich to be rich. That’s not the discussion.

The question is why it’s unfair for the poor to be tax exempt.

The basis is that the system has inequity built into it by design, so why is it unfair to alter that system a little to shift the equity in a different way?

The argument about the rich isn’t that it’s unfair for rich people to be rich, but that the rich people are rich because of the organization of the system, so why is changing the loopholes of the system to benefit the poor rather than the rich unfair?

Ok, can you please give me a cite for this? As I understood it, this was a tax exemption. If I am understanding it incorrectly please help my ignorance.
Sinaijon** As I said above, my point is that the rich are rich because of a trick of the system. So how does altering it in favor of the poor constitute, ‘unfairness’?

Who said anything about income tax?