This year, for the first time in more than 30 years, I am going to itemize my tax deductions. With more than $30,000 in medical expenses as a starter, I would be foolish to do otherwise.
In the process of looking at all my legal deductions, I have come to realize that many of the tax loopholes reside within the process of deductions through itemization. The tax code is so vague and complex that even the experts are hard pressed to give you consistent answers.
My tax report will still be a simple matter of reporting around-the-clock nurses for my wife, donations to charity, state and local taxes and a few other items of small consequence. In the process of researching legal deductions, I was struck with an interesting anomaly. States with high state taxes favor the rich over the poor in a rather peculiar way. If you are rich and you itemize your taxes as most of the rich do, you can recover a large portion of your state taxes when you file your federal taxes. If you are poor and you take the standard deduction, as most low-income taxpayers do, you recover none of your state or local taxes.
It is a rather complex situation, but it turns out that the Blue states with high local and state taxes do less percentage-wise to support the federal government than do the Red states with lower state taxes.
John Boehner has made a proposal that would greatly increase the taxes that rich people pay with very little or no increase to middle class or poor people. His proposal is to limit the amount of itemized personal deduction to $50,000. Such a limitation would make a huge increase in the taxes that the rich pay and would impose no hardship on the poor.
You would think that Democrats would seize this opportunity and many have, but they are not generally members of the legislature.
The reason is very simple to understand. More rich in the Blue states would be hit than rich in the Red states, but all the rich would be denied access to loopholes other than state taxes. This surely casts some doubt on the sincerity of those who claim they want to tax the rich effectively.
Democrat Charles Schumer is strongly opposed to the suggestion, and I think I know why. His overriding concern is to stay elected and remain in the legislature.
My computer tells me that 47 percent of those who make more than $100,000 a year are Democrats. This is a fairly consistent figure, but I have little idea how the super rich turn out politically. The claims are conflicting, but the idea of big money controlling elections is depressing to me no matter where it comes from.
Do not put me down as a Republican because I seem to be attacking Democrats. Democrats are the ones in power now, and I expect them to do a lot better than they are doing. Expecting better from those in power is not praising those out of power.
TOBY HIGHTOWER is a retired educator and former Hopkinsville High School teacher. His email address is email@example.com. Write to him at 222 S. 25th St., Apartment 434, Terre Haute, IN 47803.