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Home --> Politics --> Taxes --> Taxes: Clinton vs. Bush

Taxes: Clinton vs. Bush

Claim:   E-mail compares federal income tax rates from 1999 and 2008.

Status:   Partly true.

Example:   [Collected via e-mail, February 2008]

After watching a focus group of democrats that watched the democratic debate the other day in Vegas, I literally wanted to puke. For the most part, all of them bashed Bush over and over again on how he is out for his millionaire friends and the big oil companies and he has totally forgotten or disregarded the little guy. So being an ex-IRS employee, I decided to look back on the tax tables to see if there is any truth to what they said and the media keeps stating as fact, "Bush is only out for the rich in this country."

Based on using the actual tax tables (see link below), here are some examples on what the taxes were/are on various amounts of income for both singles and married couples, so let's see if the Bush tax cuts only helped the rich.

http://www.taxfoundation.org/publications/show/151.html

Taxes under CLINTON 1999 Taxes under BUSH 2008
Single making 30K - tax $8,400 Single making 30K - tax $4,500
Single making 50K - tax $14,000 Single making 50K - tax $12,500
Single making 75K - tax $23,250 Single making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 60K - tax $16,800 Married making 60K- tax $9,000
Married making 75K - tax $21,000 Married making 75K - tax $18,750
Married making 125K - tax $38,750 Married making 125K - tax $31,250


If you want to know just how effective the mainstream media is, it is amazing how many people that fall into the categories above think Bush is screwing them and Bill Clinton was the greatest President ever. If any democrat is elected, ALL of them say they will repeal the Bush tax cuts and a good portion of the people that fall into the categories above can't wait for it to happen. This is like the movie The Sting with Paul Newman; you scam somebody out of some money and they don't even know what happened.

Origins:   "Be sure to show your work!" was a mantra many of us heard from our math and science teachers before tackling homework and exams, the point being that demonstrating you knew the proper methodology for
solving a problem was just as important (if not more so) than producing the right answer. (Plus, students who could set up problems correctly but made computational errors often received at least partial credit, while pupils who produced correct answers without being able to show how they arrived at them risked suspicion of cheating.) The item reproduced above is reminiscent of those lessons, an example of someone who managed to stumble across the right answer despite employing a severely flawed approach to finding it.

The gist of the comparison presented here is correct: The basic federal income tax rates are generally lower across the board for all taxpayers — not just for the well-to-do, as is often claimed — in 2008 than they were in 1999. However, the numbers supplied to illustrate this point are both inaccurate and simplified in a way that misleadingly exaggerates the differences.

Whoever produced this chart simply applied tax tables from 1999 and 2008 to various income amounts, apparently without understanding the difference between marginal tax rates and average tax rates and without allowing for even the standard deduction. As The Tax Foundation noted, when those factors are correctly applied, the chart should look like this:

Taxes under CLINTON 1999 Taxes under BUSH 2008
Single making 30K - tax $3,157.50 Single making 30K - tax $2,756.25
Single making 50K - tax $7,262.50 Single making 50K - tax $6,606.25
Single making 75K - tax $14,262.50 Single making 75K - tax $12,856.25
Married making 60K - tax $6,585.00 Married making 60K - tax $5,512.50
Married making 75K - tax $9,426.50 Married making 75K - tax $7,762.50
Married making 125K - tax $23,426.50 Married making 125K - tax $19,462.50

Note that the largest difference between 1999 and 2008 taxes in this revised table is only $3,964.00 (for married couples making at least $125,000), while the original table (incorrectly) posits comparable or larger differences in five out of the six sample brackets.

Errors aside, the limited amount of simplified information offered here (which assumes all taxpayers have no children and take the standard deduction, doesn't account for inflation or the Alternative Minimum Tax, etc.) provides only a small glimpse of a much larger and complex whole.

Last updated:   22 April 2008

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