An Easy Way for President Obama to Pay His Fair Share
Mr. President, for years you have taxed my patience with your talking points of how the wealthy don't pay their fair share in taxes. The man you picked to be vice president -- one of the most taxing men in politics -- ran around the country claiming that the more you pay in taxes, the more of a patriot you are. You recently pushed for legislation nicknamed the "Buffett Rule" that would create a minimum tax rate of 30% for certain income groups. In many of your speeches read off your over-taxed teleprompter, it is clear that you firmly believe that you, the vice president, Warren Buffett, and many other people of wealth should pay taxes at a higher rate.
I have heard some pundits ask why you and other people who believe they are under-taxed don't just go ahead and pay more. I suppose that that is an option, but I fully understand why you may not want to do this, since others aren't being required to do the same. But did you know that there is a very simple way for you to pay more taxes and still follow the current tax laws?
Do you have your 2011 tax return handy? I'll wait while you go get it.
OK. Now turn to Page 2, the one with your signature on it. (By the way, did you sign it personally, or is that the auto-pen signature?) Take a look at line 40, which says "Itemized deductions (from Schedule A) or your standard deduction (see left margin)."
Did you notice the word "or" in that description? This means you have a choice. If there is one thing I know about you, Mr. President, it's that you are pro-choice.
Your CPA, Mr. Solheim, made the choice to complete Schedule A. This required a lot of work for you and for him. During the year, you had to take time out of your busy vacation and fundraising schedule to keep track of the various expenses that could be taken as itemized deductions. Your CPA had to take the time to review the information you provided and then enter this information into his tax-accounting software.
The result of your record-keeping and Mr. Solheim's skills as an accountant resulted in $278,498's worth of itemized deductions. After deducting this amount and the $14,800 on Line 42 for your Exemptions, your Taxable Income was $496,376. This resulted in a tax amount of $143,603.
But wait! I thought there was a choice. Did Mr. Solheim not tell you this before you (or your auto-pen) signed the tax return?
Mr. Solheim chose to complete Schedule A, but he could have saved you and himself all of the work needed to prepare Schedule A by just peeking over at the left margin and using the number that followed the description "Married filing jointly or Qualifying widow(er)." In fact, the tax-accounting software Mr. Solheim used to prepare your return is programmed to use the Standard Deduction when it sees that there is no Schedule A.
The Standard Deduction for you, and every married taxpayer filing jointly, is $11,600. Every American regardless of wealth, race, religion or gender who is legally married is entitled to this exact same Standard Deduction. Millions of Americans take the Standard Deduction each year. I'm reasonably sure that you and Michelle used the Standard Deduction on your tax returns in previous years. It is perfectly legal and fair.
Had Mr. Solheim used the Standard Deduction on your 2011 tax return, your tax liability would have been $237,017. That is $93,414 more than what you previously said you owed.
Now here's the real kicker. Two hundred thirty-seven thousand and seventeen dollars is 30% of your Adjusted Gross Income. It's the percent you want "wealthy" people to pay. You could have paid it legally under the current tax laws.
But wait -- you still can pay it! Call Mr. Solheim and tell him you want to amend you 2011 tax return. There are just a few forms that need to be filled out. You have to sign them and enclose a check for the amount you owe.
But wait -- there's more good news! It's not too late to go back and amend your 2009 and 2010 returns, too. Have Mr. Solheim use the Standard Deduction for those years as well. I did a quick calculation that resulted in you owing $176,197 for 2009 and $126,662 for 2010. This is 34% of your Adjusted Gross Income for 2009 and 33% for 2010. Both numbers are higher than the 30% you believe wealthy Americans should pay.
So there you go, Mr. President: a legal way for you and all of your wealthy friends to pay their "fair share." Pick up the phone and call Mr. Solheim, and tell him what we just discussed. Next, call all of your wealthy donors and tell them you will return their campaign donations if they don't amend their returns for the last three years to replace their Itemized Deductions with the Standard Deduction. Finally, send out a tweet saying you will take donations only from Americans who use the Standard Deduction. Heck, challenge Mitt Romney to do the same thing.
In the words of your own vice president, "It's time to be patriotic...time to jump in, time to be part of the deal, time to get America out of the rut!" But even more important than being patriotic, not having to worry about that silly Schedule A anymore is going to leave you more time to golf, vacation and fundraise.