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The middle class is not paying its fair share

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Mike Gibbons, a leading Republican candidate for the Ohio Senate, said at a media event last fall that middle-class Americans don’t pay “any kind of fair share” of income tax.

“The top 20% in the United States pays 82% federal income tax – and, if you do the math, and 45% to 50% don’t pay income tax, you can see that the middle class isn’t really paying any sort of fair share, depending on how you want to define it,” Gibbons said.

The comments from Gibbons, a millionaire Cleveland investment banker, were made in a September episode of Crain’s Cleveland Business “The Landscape” podcast. But they could take on new resonance after Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida, a potential 2024 presidential candidate, presented a plan for government in February that has divided the party over its call to raise taxes on millions of Americans. who do not earn enough to pay federal income tax.

Scott, who leads the Senate Republicans’ campaign arm, said paying even a small tax would give the poor the “skin of the game” to spur their interest and involvement in how government money taxpayers is spent.

Other leading Republicans, including Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have distanced themselves from Scott’s proposal, fearing the prospect of raising taxes on low-income Americans will provoke attacks from the from Democrats in the election year.

Campaign spokeswoman Samantha Cotten said Friday that Gibbons did not support raising taxes for businesses or individuals. “He’s not for raising taxes on the middle class. He signed a non-taxation pledge,” she said.

Still, ahead of the May 3 primary, Republican rivals are looking to use the comments against Gibbons. One opponent, Republican Mark Pukita, had it posted on his YouTube page for the past three weeks with the caption “Tax Hike Mike Gibbons.”

Asked about the Scott Plan during a Republican Senate debate last week, former Ohio Republican President Jane Timken said she opposed his proposal to raise taxes on the middle class. , while “Hillbilly Elegy” author JD Vance said the GOP should represent “middle-class people being able to raise a family and do it on one income.

In the video, Gibbons is pictured against a campaign backdrop and criticizes Democrats for advancing an “absolutely false” narrative that “the middle class is getting screwed and the rich, the elite, are fooling everyone” because that they “need the middle class to win”. an election.” He says he has no problem with a “progressive tax system structure” but notes that the wealthy already pay a lot of taxes.

Gibbons asks, “How much of the total tax bill can a very small percentage of the nation pay while being a democracy?”

President Joe Biden included a “billionaire minimum income tax” in his 2023 budget proposal. In announcing the tax proposal, the Democrat claimed that “a firefighter and a teacher pay more than double” the tax rate. tax paid by a billionaire.

According to an analysis of 2019 Internal Revenue Service data, the most recent available, by the tax-conservative Tax Foundation, the wealthiest 10% of Americans earn 47.3% of reported income and pay 70.9% income tax. The bottom 50% of US earners report 11.5% of income and pay 3.1% of taxes. That leaves the middle 40% of Americans earning 41.2% of income and paying 26.1% of income taxes.

The Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a left-leaning think tank, says these numbers don’t reflect sizable amounts of wealth among high-income Americans who are tax-sheltered or taxed at high rates. lower than those of employees.

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