~~ How much does the average person have to pay in taxes to cover the services each person enjoys in the USA? It’s a complex question and I could not find a straight answer online. This would be a good masters thesis for a college student.
~~ I can’t construct a scenario where each person does not receive at least $20,000-$50,000 worth of tax paid services each year, just thinking about the roads, rails, airports, the military, the police, fire protection, libraries, street cleaning, elder and disabled care, programs to protect social order, and even health and safety inspectors (much as we fear them in the restaurant industry). What’s the value of living in the world’s leading nation? I don’t know exactly but it’s up there.
~~ A Heritage Foundation report demonstrates that you have to be in the top 40% of the population in income to pay more in taxes than you get back in benefits. If you can read their entire impressive report you should be promoted to Professor. From their graphs it looks like the tipping point is around $20,000 in annual taxes. Pay less than that and you are getting more than you pay for. More, and you are subsidizing others (on average). Remember, that is total taxes, so it includes sales taxes, property taxes and local taxes not just Fed and State. Taking this approach the rich are paying the way for the poor which seems to be a great deal for lower income people.
~~ But the question of fairness can also be viewed in another way: what percentage of income is paid in taxes? By this standard the poor are more burdened than the wealthy, particularly in the area of state, local and sales taxes. In fact, by some estimates the poorest 20% of Americans pay 2x as much of their income in taxes as the richest 20%
~~ Here’s some varied perspectives from Pew Research, CNBC and Warren Buffett on the fairness of our tax system. And where our tax dollars go. Clearly there’s a lot of room for argument, and for more research. Cue that masters thesis candidate!
~~ I have a hunch that for all but the richest, we may be getting a lot more for our money than we like to think! At least that will make me feel better when I write my checks to the IRS.