How do the members of the "1 percent" feel? I asked three - Renee Amoore, Tom Knox and George Bochetto - each a local, unapologetic, self-made millionaire. They believe they already pay their "fair share" in federal taxes.
"I don't only pay the 35 percent," says Center City lawyer Bochetto, who was raised in an orphanage. "I also pay Social Security tax, state and city income tax, property tax. More than half of my income goes to the government. That's my fair share."
Due respect to Bochetto and his rise to riches from the orphanage. Good for him! But does he really pay more than half his income to the government? If so, he needs to hire a new accountant—immediately.
Why do I say that? Because the effective tax rate for the top 1 percent of earners—and this combines and includes federal, state, and local taxes—was 30.9 percent in 2008. Here's a chart from Citizens for Tax Justice:
Granted, this is a national overview that's several years old. And granted, Philadelphia can be a little tougher on the pocketbook than a lot of places. But is it so much tougher that Bochetto loses and additional 20 percentage points off his income? Really, really doubtful—especially since the Social Security taxes actually take a bigger bite out of the incomes of low-wage earners than they do millionaires like Bochetto.
We can argue about appropriate tax rates and the responsibility of the rich to help provide services and opportunities for the rest of us. But that argument should be grounded in reality instead of unchallenged hyperbole. Bykofsky didn't help anybody by quoting Bochetto uncritically today.