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Viral Email: TAX HIKES COMING JAN. 1

August 30, 2010 4:52 pm ET

The following email has been widely forwarded.  Media Matters Action Network has written a response to the text below.  Please feel free to copy and paste it and send to your friends.

"TAX HIKES COMING JAN. 1"

[note - all mistakes below are original to the text]

Response

Hey,

Thanks for forwarding this email.  It would definitely be scary if Congress was planning on raising everybody's taxes at the end of the year, especially while the economy is struggling to recover.  But luckily, that's not going to happen.  Many of the claims in this email are misleading or outright lies.

You might remember that Sarah Palin recently said something similar about how Democrats wanted to have "the largest tax increase in U.S. history." Well, a website called PolitiFact.com that looks into claims from both Democrats and Republicans said that it's a blatant lie.  In fact, they rated Palin's statement "Pants on Fire" - the worst rating somebody can get.  You can read it here: http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/article/2010/aug/04/distorting-democratic-plans-bush-tax-cuts/

The details of all of this are a little complicated, but it's important to understand how we got to the point where this is even a debate.  Basically, Republicans passed huge tax cuts early in the Bush administration to try to stimulate the economy.  At the time, the only way they could get enough votes in Congress to pass the tax cuts was to use a procedure called reconciliation (you might remember it from the health care debate) and write the law so that it would expire in 10 years.  Read more about that here: http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,128937-1,00.html

So now the 10 years is up and Congress has to figure out what to do.  I know it might seem obvious that they shouldn't let taxes go up at all, but here's the thing: the tax cuts cost A LOT of money (way more than Obama's stimulus) and they didn't lead to any significant economic growth.  I know we all worry about the size of the federal deficit, but most people don't realize that the Bush tax cuts are one of the biggest causes of the deficit problem.  Look: http://www.offthechartsblog.org/whose-deficit-is-it-anyway/

Still, most people can't afford to pay higher taxes right now and President Obama and Congress recognize that.  That's why they're planning to pass a bill continuing the tax cuts for almost everybody, but letting them expire for the richest Americans.  We're talking about households that make more than $250,000 per year, not middle class families.  And the changes will only affect 1.9% of small business owners:

http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2010/jul/22/mike-pence/mike-pence-says-democrats-want-all-bush-tax-cuts-e/

http://www.cbpp.org/files/8-29-08tax.pdf

In fact, the only way the huge tax hikes in the email will occur is if Republicans do what they've been doing since Obama took office and try to block the bill when it comes up for a vote.  Because if Congress doesn't pass anything at all, then everyone's taxes will go up - but that's not what anyone has in mind. 

This is already getting pretty long, so I'm not going to get into every little detail in the email.  I think the fact that the main point was so dishonest should tell you all you need to know.  If there's a specific claim that's bothering you, I encourage you to do a little research of your own - this infographic summarizing President Obama's proposals for the expiring tax cuts is a good place to start: http://graphics8.nytimes.com/images/2010/07/25/us/politics/25tax-graphic/25tax-graphic-popup.jpg

Please, be careful about forwarding emails like this in the future without getting all the facts.  Otherwise, people might get all worked up for no reason.   

Hope to talk to you soon!



 


Posted in - Taxes - Viral Email