During Friday's presidential debate, John Kerry again stated that he plans to raise taxes on people making more than $200,000 per year. He worked the class-warfare issue by suggesting only 3 people in the auditorium would be impacted by the plan; Kerry, Bush, and moderator Charles Gibson. As it turns out, John Kerry was distorting his personal reality, as his overall tax rate is nowhere near that paid by a family making $200K/year. In fact, Kerry pays taxes at a rate less than a family making $30K/year!
As reported in today's Wall Street Journal, John and Teresa Heinz Kerry made roughly $6.8 million dollars in 2003. Assuming the Kerry's could claim $1 million in deductions, they would be expected to pay $2,011,000 in taxes. But somehow, the Kerry's managed to limit their tax liability to $725K, or slightly more than 10% of their income. By comparison, a family making $30K per year pays 14% taxes.
Kerry cannot be faulted for utilizing available tax deductions. However, Kerry's statements Friday night clearly gave the false impression to the American people. Kerry stated that he should bear a greater tax burden than the average American, when in fact the myriad tax shelters employed by the Kerry's ensure they pay far less. If Kerry was sincerely concerned about fairness in the US tax policy, if he sincerely believes he should carry a greater burden given his resources, he'd campaign to implement meaningful revisions to the Alternative Minimum Tax. But Kerry is not interested in fairness, he's interested in getting elected. To that end, he demonizes the wealthy and advocates tax rate increases to which he is personally immune.
On a related note, George Bush paid over 30% of his income in federal income taxes.