Millionaires and billionaires can save America – be careful what you wish for

15 Apr

When being a millionaire meant something

Millionaires and billionaires are in the news a lot these days. The political left sees them as the funding pool for all its social goals. We are told Republicans see them as their buddies despite the fact many of these folks are about as far left as you can get. No matter, the point is, can taxing the “wealthy” solve our fiscal woes?

Let’s look at this group. According to a Spectrem Group study, there are now 7.8 million millionaire households in the U.S. This is a total net worth of the household which includes the value of all assets except their primary residence. Remember, that is not income, it is the total accumulated during one’s life – savings, cars, 401(k) accounts, cash value life insurance, etc. less debts.  A million dollars is not what it used to be. If you had a net worth of one million dollars in 1950 you need $9,186,000 today to be a real millionaire.

Keep in mind too that being a millionaire does not mean you have bundles of money under the mattress.  And, it does not mean you have an income of $1 million or anything near it. Many “millionaires” have quite normal incomes, even less than the magical $250,000 we hear so much about. Many people in the millionaire category are there because of the value of their businesses or farms.

According to IRS data, 323,069 income tax returns out of some 144,000,000 filed (2008) showed an adjusted gross income of $1 million dollars or more. That is roughly 0.3% of all households. Only three percent of all returns have an AGI over $200,000 (that’s households, not individuals). The top 1-percent Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) break point (TY 2008) was $380,354. The state with the most such returns was California…imagine that, not New York with all those greedy Wall Street types, more like high-tech entrepreneurs and Hollywood celebrities.

Cash, what cash?

As for billionaires, best data I could find shows there are 403 billionaires in the US, remember, that’s net worth that includes stocks, real estate, etc. not income. Their income is included in the 323,069 number mentioned above.

I don’t suppose we should feel sorry for any of these folks and I guess how they achieved this status is irrelevant, hard work, risk taking, saving and all that stuff.

However, what we should be asking is do we believe that balancing the budget and reducing the deficit while expanding government programs can or should be funded by three hundred thousand Americans or even the top three percent of all American households?

Think about that each time you hear the rhetoric about millionaires and billionaires.

8 Responses to “Millionaires and billionaires can save America – be careful what you wish for”

  1. Anonymous October 15, 2011 at 4:26 PM #

    I don’t think taxing millionairies will solve our problems in the US what if every multi-millionaire gave 100.000 thousands dollars to 10 people out of there money do u think it would make difference in todays economy .maybe or maybe not my husband and I work every day we struggle to pay our housenote car note and utilities every month but we r one of the lucky families that still has jobs . giving people money to spend helps the economy

  2. rdquinn April 16, 2011 at 11:51 AM #

    Not sure exactly what you guys are saying The point of the article is to pint out the fallacy of rhetoric that misleads people into believing that it is wise or practical to think we can tax millionaires only and solve our problems.

    • Dave September 27, 2011 at 1:10 AM #

      This is so much right wing spin. Their trick here is to use the words Adjusted Gross Income.
      Exxon Mobil , General Electric and many others Adjust there Gross Income by transferring it off shore to phony subsidiaries. They payed zero in taxes in 2009. Which was the last time I checked up on it. Some even profit from the tax code. (have a negative tax). They claim losses at the 35% tax bracket and shelter all profits off shore or in the stock market which is taxed at only 15% . Warren Buffet only claims about $100,000 in salary every year. The rest of his vast wealth goes into his investments. Buffet, is the 3rd richest man in world .
      Or corporations transfer a lot of their corporate profits to the owners who can file it on their individual income taxes, which is taxed lower than the corporate 35% rate. This is probably why the Republicans protect the $250,000 tax bracket all the time. Not because they care about people who only make 250k a year, but because it is a tax shelter for their much richer buddies. Some even take out loans from a subsidiary and get a tax write off on the interest expense. Which really isn’t an expense is it ? Because they are paying themselves (their phony subsidiary). If what the author of this rag said is true about most of the top 1 % returns coming from California not New York, It is probably because the Hollywood crowd can’t or won’t “Adjust” (hide) their gross incomes like the crooks on Wall Street do, or our unethical corporate leaders do, who support the Republican Party at a ratio of 2 to 1 over Democrats. Articles like this, and the electorate who read and fall for this spin is the reason this country has been losing ground to other countries in the global economy for the last 2 decades.

      • rdquinn September 27, 2011 at 1:55 AM #

        You miss one point, adjusted gross income includes income from capital gains such as in Buffets case where it makes up the bulk of his current income. His issue is the tax rate on those earnings is fixed at 15% and of course that applies to everyone. However, the real point is, if anyone thinks just this group of people can or should fix everything they are mistaken. Besides just increasing revenue while Congress keeps spending doesn’t really solve the fundamental problem does it?

  3. florida sr22 April 16, 2011 at 10:16 AM #

    I have to agree with Ishmaelsfolly

  4. Ishmaelsfolly April 15, 2011 at 8:42 PM #

    Repealing the Bush tax cuts (if that’s what you’re talking about) impacts a much larger demographic than millionaires and billionaires; to suggest anything else is disingenuous.



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