Monday, November 3, 2008

Bellying Up To The Bar on Taxes

John Poltrack has included links to the tax calculators for the various campaigns race to the bottom to buy our votes. I saw a similar thing in a TV ad which showed how much more money you’d save voting for Obama than McCain.

My first problem with this whole strategy is that it is a cynical appeal to the most self-serving, narrow minded part of us. Without a doubt, I want to keep more of my money rather than send it to the government. On the other hand, I understand that my fortune is linked to the fortunes of everyone else…more so now than ever before. Having the government allow me to keep an extra $10 a week doesn’t really help me a lot when I don’t have a job. For me, the bottom line isn’t the dollar amount but the policy behind it.

The second, and possibly bigger problem, is that this is a promise that will never materialize. Mr. Obama's calculator says he's going to save me $1000. The truth is Obama is not going to cut my taxes one cent. In fact, I know he’s going to raise my taxes…a lot. 

I am so certain my taxes will go up I’ll make an offer to anyone who disagrees and is ready to belly up to the bar. Using my 2008 tax return as a baseline, I’ll promise to donate any amount my tax bill goes down in 2009 to the charity of your choice. In return, you’ll promise to donate the amount my tax bill goes up to my charity Grameen Bank. By taking me up on this challenge you’ll both earn my respect as someone who stands with the courage of their convictions and you’ll have peace of mind knowing you’ll be donating to a worthy cause.

The ground rules:

  1. You commit to this on or before the results of the election are known
  2. Obama is elected President
  3. To make the comparison fair, the basis will be for the amount of taxable income I earned in 2008 (i.e. we’ll only compare the direct cost of tax policies, not the side-effect of the ruination of my business income). I don’t itemize my deductions, so there are really no other variables.
  4. Your chosen charity must be recognized by the IRS as a qualified organization.

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