WaPo Fact Checker Gives Gene Simmons’ 1% Comment 4 Pinocchios
The always outspoken Gene Simmons, bassist and frontman of KISS, said something in an interview last week that caught the attention of Washington Post fact-checker Glenn Kessler. “The 1 percent pays 80 percent of all taxes,” Simmons told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “Fifty percent of the population of the U.S. pays no taxes. The 1 percent provides all the jobs for everybody else. If the 1 percent didn’t exist, there would be chaos and the American economy would drop dead.”
That statement garnered four Pinocchios, the blog’s highest rating for “whoppers.”
Kessler notes that Simmons’ assertions echo the infamous 47% comments by Mitt Romney, who the rocker supported for president in 2012. But while Romney said the 47% “who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe the government has a responsibility to care for them,” pay no income tax, Simmons claimed they don’t pay any taxes at all.
Just because someone isn’t paying income tax doesn’t mean they are not paying payroll tax, which contributes to programs like Social Security and Medicare. But even worse that the “no taxes” claim is the idea that the 1% pays 80% of all taxes. Kessler writes:
The top 1 percent actually pays about 26 percent of all federal taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center. (A report from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy pegs the figure at nearly 24 percent if state and local taxes are included.) Even if you count only income taxes, it works out to 34 percent. Note that the top 1 percent pays just 4 percent of payroll taxes, as the burden of those taxes falls more heavily on the lower and middle classes.
“Simmons may enjoy the 1 percent lifestyle, but he needs to get his facts straight,” Kessler concludes. “The top 1 percent certainly pays a large share of taxes (and has a large share of income) but his claims are wildly off-base, especially when talking about ‘all taxes.'”
[Photo via Wikimedia Commons]
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