Eric pointed to an article on Bob Cesca's blog, which quotes this news story about the nine things the rich don't want you to know about taxes. I'm not sure I'm going to have the time to do a full tax post as I'd like, but you really ought to read that article. I know it's long, but there's lots of charts to help you out. It doesn't say anything much different or new that I haven't been harping on for the past three years or so (at least here in this forum, in person I've been doing it a whole lot longer). And it discusses some of the word play that's being used to bamboozle you.
While he covers it obliquely, I'll state it here openly. You know all this talk about Social Security and Medicare reform? I'll remind you that we pay a separate tax for each of those that fully funds those programs. To claim they contribute to the deficit is an outright lie, those taxes you pay are "dedicated" - or mandated - which is why politicians don't like them. Add in the conservative ranker over any social program that helps people and you can see why lots of people want to roll them back in the closet.
Taxes have become regressive instead of progressive. Don't believe it? I keep hearing about how my taxes have "gone down" since 1998. Bullshit. Before 1998 I always (always) had a tax refund. Between 1998 and 2002 my refund lowered to just barely cover the costs of having someone prepare my taxes. Since 2002 I've owed taxes above my withholdings. Since 2003 I've been lowering my deductions every single year and still had to pay extra. Every. Single. Year. Right now I'm at claiming 1 deduction and have my W4 marked to withhold at the higher single rate. I'm about to adjust my W4 once again which means I'll need to fill out the line that says I want an extra amount withheld ($50 a pay, if you need to know, I've been increasing the withholding from the Council job to about $100 a month, and I only get $400 before taxes).
In that time I've gone from renting to home ownership (a deduction). My medical expenses have gone up (a deduction). I can now claim mileage (a lot of it last year, big deduction). I'm also making, numerically (I haven't done the "adjusted for income" calculation yet), a lot more. Not as much of a percentage change from '90 to '98, but still pretty good.
What I don't have is children. If I did, I'd be seeing less taxes. Without children, while the withholding tables have been adjusted to hold back less, my tax burden hasn't shifted. In fact, my Federal tax has gone up.
How do I know? Because I still get a refund from the state (normally local as well, but the Census didn't withhold local and I did significant freelance last year). And while my federal tax owed wasn't as much as I expected (thanks to the mileage deductions, mostly), it was still more than I paid for the tax preparation (and my tax guy is a partner in the firm).
Well, look, I guess I did do the post after all. After reading that article, if you aren't pissed, I don't think you're paying attention. I'll also remind you that Eric Cantor, the House Majority Leader, said that Pres. Obama's talk of raising taxes on those who make more that $250,000 wasn't what we needed two days before tax day.