Chuck Todd, the new host of NBC’s Meet The Press, suggested that Americans who do not pay income tax fund public education more than the rich by buying lottery tickets and going to casinos.
While interviewing Ben Carson on CSPAN’s After Words, which aired on Sunday, Todd said that Americans who don’t pay federal income tax go to casinos or buy lottery tickets and are “spending more money funding our schools, whether it’s Detroit or other places.” Todd said that though “they are not writing a check to the federal government,” poorer Americans “are contributing arguably more money to education [by buying lottery tickets or at casinos] than the rich.”
One can argue how lucrative casinos in urban areas are or how much lottery tickets actually fund public education, but nobody is forced to play Powerball, Mega Millions, or go to casinos. Americans, by law, must pay taxes. That’s a big difference.
Todd made the remarks in a conversation with Carson about flatter tax rates, which Carson favors. Speaking about a hypothetical 10% flat tax, Carson acknowledged that “there are a lot of people who make enormous amounts of money who pay very little in taxes and 10% would be a lot to them.” Carson also noted, though, that he thought it was “insulting” to tell people who “make small amounts of money” that government will just take care of them. He believed they should contribute some taxes, even if it is minimal, so they know “they are still carrying their weight.”
Proponents of that view argue that if more people who are not paying taxes had to pay Uncle Sam, they wouuld be more concerned about how their elected officials waste their money and force government to be more fiscally responsible.
Using estimates from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation and the Wall Street Journal, the nonpartisan Tax Foundation noted that “taxpayers with income over $100,000 a year earn 60 percent of the nation’s income and pay 95.2 percent of the income taxes in the United States. If we consider all federal taxes paid (income, payroll, and excise taxes), those making over $100,000 (a little over 20 percent of taxpayers) pay for 75.7 percent of total federal taxes (this excludes the burden on corporate and investment taxes).” The analysis determined that “those making over $200,000 comprise just over 5 percent of the nation’s taxpayers, earn 32.3 percent of the income, but pay 46.7 percent of total federal taxes and 70 percent of federal income taxes.”
Americans who make “between $100,000 and $200,000 a year make up 15.6 percent of all taxpayers, earn 27.7 percent of income, pay 29 percent of total federal taxes and 25.2 percent of federal income taxes” and “those between $50,000 and $100,000 make up about a quarter of the country, earn 23.6 percent of all income, pay 18.6 percent of federal taxes and 11.3 percent of federal income taxes.”
The analysis found that those “making less than $50,000 a year represent about half of the country” and “earn 16.4 percent of the nation’s income,” but “pay 5.6 percent of taxes and have a negative share of income taxes because they receive more back then they pay out (largely due to refundable tax credit programs).”