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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Researched and revealing
This is a compelling book that minces few words. The authors supply diverse statistics showing that the wealthy really do escape a fair share of taxes and Congress happily colludes in the scheme. The swindle's scope is seen as a back-handed tribute to the skill of those hired professionals - politicians and talking heads - who redirect taxpayer anger onto nickel and...
Published on September 6, 2000 by Douglas Doepke

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4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars America: Who Really Pays the Taxes
I have found this book rather boring. Taxes aren't nearly as thrilling as a Tom Clancy novel. But I have learned quite a bit from this reading. The authors have (thankfully) made it readable by adding scenerios that have happened to real people. They have obviously spent a lot of time in their research. It is a well written and well researched book
Published on April 5, 2000 by Anthony W.


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21 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Researched and revealing, September 6, 2000
By 
Douglas Doepke (Claremont, CA United States) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
This is a compelling book that minces few words. The authors supply diverse statistics showing that the wealthy really do escape a fair share of taxes and Congress happily colludes in the scheme. The swindle's scope is seen as a back-handed tribute to the skill of those hired professionals - politicians and talking heads - who redirect taxpayer anger onto nickel and dime welfare cheats instead of the real recipients of government largesse. As the book shows, the tax-paying desires of the wealthy do get served.
The big picture lies in the sharp turnaround since 1950 in who pays the taxes. In that year the tax system was gearedf toward broadening membership in the middle-class, America's cushioning class. Since then, the shift towards taxing this sector out of existence has been little less than startling. Among the categories reflecting this turnaround: tax-exemption rates, Social Security levies, total tax-dollar comparisons, and state and local shifts in levies. A thumbnail sketch of taxation's history in the US helps the reader understand the class battle going on beneath the numbers.
The final chapter closes with recommendations for reforms. Most are quite sensible given the gross inequities that currently exist. For example: terminate capital gains preferences and tax this category as income, stop discriminating certain preferential categories of income from others, terminate tax-exempt securities, et. al. That corporate income tax should be increased is usually rebutted by claims that the increase will be passed along to the consumer. If so, then why - the authors point out - do corporations so stoutly resist this legislation, preferring instead an excise tax that would most surely be passed along. Good point.
The English statesman Disraeli once remarked, "Gentleman, there are three kinds of lies - lies, damned lies, and statistics." Perhaps so. Yet anyone challenging B&S's figures or our ruinous departure from progressive taxation will have to pass through this book first.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Left winged or right winged this book is well researched, January 22, 2002
This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
America, Who Stole the Dream, was a WONDERFUL READ. I find myself leaning more to the right, from a political perspective, but the authors arguments are EXCELLENT at times and they definitely bring up some great points.
This book is the most well argued book I have read about the current demise of the middle class in the U.S. After reading it I would definitely have to say that I have more concern about political decisions being made in Washington as the authors illustrate that consistently the politicians don't do the right thing for the country.
The authors bring up several concerns
1. Middle class demise via outsourcing of manufacturing to lower cost areas
2. Growing disparity of wealth (the rich own more in % terms)
3. The outsourcing of the `HIGH TECH JOBS' that are to be the savior of the country.
4. Commentary about various social programs set up and how ineffective they are.
In conclusion I would say this book was extremely well researched and I therefore give KUDOS to the authors. While I don't agree with everything they wrote I believe they have put forth an excellent piece of work.
My main contention with the book is that it focuses on the demise of manufacturing and low-end jobs, along with some high tech. The U.S. is expensive from a labor perspective. As we have outsourced much of our manufacturing we have been able to purchase products at cheaper prices in the U.S.. Imagine what some products would cost if we were paying for labor that was, in some cases, 10x higher than current wages in developing countries? NOWHERE in the book do the authors mention the BENEFIT to our standard of living because we can buy more with our dollars than we would be able to do so otherwise. In general, this book is WAY to the left so reader beware.
My background is a B.S. in Acct., an MBA in finance and current interests in economic and social policy development so I found this to be quite an interesting read.
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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent technical compendium, November 9, 1998
By 
This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
This book is an excellent study of the history of taxation in America, and particularly the use of tax law to encourage or discourage social, "fairness", and other political agendas. Great insight into how a tax bill is actually formulated, the bill's administrative process and its limitations, and the role of the political leaders in establishing the direction of new legislation.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's class warfare. In reverse., May 25, 2001
By 
This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
If you are like me you might have wondered why the "tax relief" of the last twenty years never seemed to really show up in your paycheck. You might have wondered why it felt like more and more of your income seemed to go to pay sales taxes and property taxes and income taxes and fees. If you wondered about that then you are likely somewhere in the middle class or even poor. If you wondered why it seemed that way, it's because it really is that way. See, as the top marginal rates for the well to do and the rates of tax on corporations has been reduced over and over, the Federal distributions to the states and municipal governments have been cut over and over. Unfortunantly for the great unwashed masses of the middle class, the state and local governments can't just close shop and stop providing essential services so they did what they had to do. They raised state and local sales, income and property taxes in a regressive manner to make up the shortfall. But wait! There's more!
In the 80's, as the budget deficits soared beyond anyone's worst nightmare, something had to be done to mask the true size of the monster. The result? A spike in the "payroll taxes" used to pay for Social Security and Medicare! While technically "off budget" and held in trust, the shell game used these receipts to disguise the growing deficits by lumping them in with other tax revenue. Oh yeah...the wealthy don't pay this tax on the vast majority of their income.
Barlett and Steele do a very passable job of explaining the shell game that has been used to lead Americans down the primrose path while transferring an ever greater share of our nations wealth to the very few at the expense of the rest of us. Now, as we repeat the major blunders of the Reagan eras transfer of wealth to the well to do with the fiscally irresponsible Bush tax cut (if you think that there is really a surplus to pay for this thing you are in for a rude awakening), this book is a very timely read. I can't recommend it highly enough. Get a copy and find out why almost all of what you thought you knew and almost all of what our political leaders are telling you is simply wrong.
America now has the largest gap between rich and poor in the entire industrialized world. Tax policy is at least partly to blame and has accelerated the growth of that gap such that it has more than doubled in the last twenty years. Do yourself a favor by finding a copy of this book to find out why. It's much worse than I can tell you here in the words allowed to me. I think most people instinctively know the truth but they are in denial. It's ugly and it's time to face it.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars It's class warfare. In reverse., May 25, 2001
By 
This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
If you are like me you might have wondered why the "tax relief" of the last twenty years never seemed to really show up in your paycheck. You might have wondered why it felt like more and more of your income seemed to go to pay sales taxes and property taxes and income taxes and fees. If you wondered about that then you are likely somewhere in the middle class or even poor. If you wondered why it seemed that way, it's because it really is that way. See, as the top marginal rates for the well to do and the rates of tax on corporations has been reduced over and over, the Federal distributions to the states and municipal governments have been cut over and over. Unfortunantly for the great unwashed masses of the middle class, the state and local governments can't just close shop and stop providing essential services so they did what they had to do. They raised state and local sales, income and property taxes in a regressive manner to make up the shortfall. But wait! There's more!
In the 80's, as the budget deficits soared beyond anyone's worst nightmare, something had to be done to mask the true size of the monster. The result? A spike in the "payroll taxes" used to pay for Social Security and Medicare! While technically "off budget" and held in trust, the shell game used these receipts to disguise the growing deficits by lumping them in with other tax revenue. Oh yeah...the wealthy don't pay this tax on the vast majority of their income.
Barlett and Steele do a very passable job of explaining the shell game that has been used to lead Americans down the primrose path while transferring an ever greater share of our nations wealth to the very few at the expense of the rest of us. Now, as we repeat the major blunders of the Reagan eras transfer of wealth to the well to do with the fiscally irresponsible Bush tax cut (if you think that there is really a surplus to pay for this thing you are in for a rude awakening), this book is a very timely read. I can't recommend it highly enough. Get a copy and find out why almost all of what you thought you knew and almost all of what our political leaders are telling you is simply wrong.
America now has the largest gap between rich and poor in the entire industrialized world. Tax policy is at least partly to blame and has accelerated the growth of that gap such that it has more than doubled in the last twenty years. Do yourself a favor by finding a copy of this book to find out why. It's much worse than I can tell you here in the words allowed to me. I think most people instinctively know the truth but they are in denial. It's ugly and it's time to face it.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars More Like Who Does Not Pay Taxes, February 10, 2003
By 
This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
I had a concern coming into this book that is was going to be pages of dull tax code jargon that kill any reading joy I might find in a book that bashes politicians. Luckily the author�s wrote the book for the average Joe and left out the tax code. The basic premise of he book is that there is a special set of rules that the rich have had written into the tax code so that they do not pay the stated rates on the progressive tax system in the USA. This should not surprise most of us as it is the rich and corporations that spend the money with the politicians to get them elected, thus the back scratching has its fingers in the tax code. Now days it is hard to bring this charge up without all the �Class Warfare� bias charges being tossed at you and this book is probably no exception. To me the authors did not seam to really be that bias, just real mad.
As an average Joe many parts of the book did make me a bit mad, just on the basic fairness point of view. They are good tidbits to have handy next time you are in a discussion with a person that pulls out the �rich already pay most of the taxes� lines. With that said I did feel that the authors might have been reaching on some of thier complaints about corporations. Like most things it is a matter of degrees and in some parts I thought they went one or two steps over the line. My biggest complaint of the book was the number of person quote examples they used. It was nice to see two or three comments from some Senators on this or that tax bill, but the authors always seemed to use 10 � 15. It was too much, we all know the politicians all read from the same talking points memos so to spell it out in a book using examples was overkill. Overall the book was interesting but not earth shattering.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Includes a proposal for reform, January 1, 2011
By 
George Fulmore (Concord, California USA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
This is the third book that I have recently read and reviewed dealing with the U.S. tax system, the others being "Free Lunch" and "Perfectly Legal." Each book gives the reader good information and makes good points; there is, of course, some overlap. But by reading the three, I feel that I am filling in gaps of my knowledge on the history of our tax system, what it looks like in its present state, and how things can be improved.

The book starts out by telling us that over the past 30 years -- it being more like 45 years now, since the copyright of the paperback I read is 1994 -- our tax system has been modified to favor the rich and the powerful, at the expense of the rest of us. There are now tax incentives for corporations to export jobs overseas, to pay taxes on profits overseas, rather than in the U.S., and to encourage foreign companies who do business in the U.S. to pay reduced taxes in the U.S. Per the authors, the individuals and families who make less than $75,000 (in 1994 dollars) have had to make up the difference in the loss of federal revenues; (although, we now know that that difference, for the most part, has, over the decades, simply been added to the federal debt).

The thesis of the book seems to be that every time Congress and/or the President tell us that they are passing tax "reform" or tax "simplification" legislation, what they are really doing is adding more loopholes for the rich and powerful. To get us to this conclusion, the authors give us the history of U.S. income-tax legislation, starting with an attempt in 1894 that the U.S. Supreme Court deemed unconstitutional. What stuck, of course, was an amendment to the Constitution accompanied by Congressional legislation in 1913.

Only about five percent of American families paid any tax when the income tax was first introduced. But the debt in WWI required changes, so more Americans were asked to pay income taxes to try to pay down the debt. Enter one Andrew W Mellon, who opposed the income tax, using arguments that we still hear today: "....more revenue may often be obtained by lowering rates...." and "Taxation should not be used as a field for socialistic experiment, or as a club to punish success." Mellon called the income tax part of a socialist-communist conspiracy. He is appointed Treasury Director in 1921, ushering in an era of tax "reforms" that lowered tax rates and benefited the rich. As a result, per the author, the rich got richer, they had excess money to pour into the inflated stock market, and the ultimate result was the stock market crash.

At the end of The Great Depression, federal debt rose primarily because of WWII. As a result, the income tax system was expanded to include most Americans for the first time. From 1939 to 1944, federal government income increased ten-fold. The tax rates were raised to historical highs, including a top tax rate of 91%. Things were good: The middle-class was expanding, home ownership hit historic highs, and the U.S. had little competition from abroad. But this stability would not last long, as, beginning under President Kennedy, tax rates began to be reduced and loopholes were installed to benefit the wealthy.

The authors gives us details of how specific individuals profited from these "tax reform" changes along the way. They also tell us of two other areas that affected Americans other than the wealthy in this era: First, Social Security taxes were increased, but surplus income was not saved in the Trust Fund. Instead, it was used to offset annual federal deficits. This sham was started under President Johnson via the concept of a "unified budget." Its real purpose was to obscure the mounting costs of the Vietnam War. Second, several areas of financial obligations of the federal government were transferred to state and local governments.

Onward, in a chapter entitled, "Why Corporations Pay Less," the authors tell us about numerous corporations that pay no federal taxes or pay significantly reduced federal taxes. And he gives us the specifics on how they did this. Then, in the next chapter, he gives us the details of how the foreign tax credit scheme was born and how it works. It began in 1950, when Saudi Arabia began to slap a 20% tax on profits of the American company ARAMCO. Because the U.S. tax code said that a corporation could not be taxed twice on its foreign earnings, ARAMCO paid a significant amount less in U.S. federal taxes. Per the authors, "The only losers that day were American taxpayers." Of course, the technique was quickly copied by others; and it is still in effect today. And in another technique, so-called "foreign-owned" companies can set things up so that they pay no U.S. federal taxes at all. And, corporations and wealthy individuals can also take advantage of "offshore" accounts, many located in the Cayman Islands, which protects investor anonymity. And, sad as it may sound, "Tax authorities in this country at both the state and federal level are woefully unprepared to audit the books of multi-national corporations...," say the authors.

But there is still more: There are the Washington D.C. tax-industry lobbyists, the Accelerated Cost Recovery System, the selling of unused tax credits to another company, and a host of other techniques and/or loopholes, or whatever you want to call them, that benefit specific individuals and corporations at the expense of other taxpayers.

So, why don't we just fix all this, make it more fair, and raise enough money to balance our annual federal budget?

Per the authors, this may never happen. First, there is what they call "America's largest non-productive business," the tax industry. It is incredibly powerful. It has the self-interest not to let the current tax code be modified without a fight. Its conception of "tax reform" is to add more loopholes for clients. No, its self-interest is to keep the tax code as complex as it is today, or to make it even more complex.

In the last chapter, the authors compile an impressive list of the arguments used by those who want to keep specific tax advantages for the rich as they are. Even with the book's 1994 copyright date, the list is incredibly relevant to 2011. But the authors also give us rebuttals to the arguments, and they give us the sense that while no single tax advantage for the wealthy probably can be reversed by itself, there may be an opportunity to redo the entire tax system at one time.

To this end, in the final pages of the book, the authors give us "A Modest Proposal" for restructuring our tax system. The similarity of their suggestions and those of the recent Simpson-Bowles Debt Reduction Commission are striking. Similarly, their proposal eliminates all itemized deductions, including capital gains, and reduces tax rates across the board. Somewhat differently, the authors call for a return of income averaging, the retention of personal exemptions, means testing on government benefits, an excise tax on securities and options trading, and a reduction in federal spending of about 10 percent.

In conclusion, I found this to be an excellent book. I highly recommend it. Five stars!
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars As Relevant as Ever, July 30, 2012
By 
This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
While the book is dated, the information within show the horrible underbelly of the American Tax system and how the corporations and wealthy exploit it for gain, such as hiring lobbyists to get the most obscure tax provisions installed. If only people had payed attention in 2001, maybe we'd be in a better condition these eleven years later.

The authors continue to crank out excellent books, so check them out!
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5.0 out of 5 stars a little dated but still extremely informative and timely, October 17, 2012
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This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
Thanks to Occupy Wall Street and the near total collapse of the world financial system in 2007-9 people are talking about the problem of growing economic inequality. You can not find better information on how America's economic system has been rigged than there is found in the series of books by prize winning investigative authors Donald L. Barlett and James B. Steele.

I have been a fan of these guys since their series of articles, "America, What Went Wrong?", first published in the Philadelphia Inquirer over 20 years ago.

In honor of their latest book, "The Betrayal of the American Dream", an update of their familiar themes, I ordered copies of all their earlier books and read or re-read them in sequence. I'm currently half way through the new book, but this book is still one of my favorites, despite being a little dated [1994].

After reading this book I ordered several more copies to loan to friends.

Do any of the following phrases and ideas sound familiar to you?

"tax reform" [usually said when Republicans and Democrats are cutting taxes for the very richest Americans].

"class warfare" [even thinking about letting even a temporary tax cut benefitting mostly the super rich to expire].

"taxation [is] socialism" or "a club to punish success".

[lower tax rates increase government revenue]

[tax cuts will generate more jobs for the poor/working class]

[unless rates are lowered rich people will "avoid" taxes] <--this has ALWAYS continued to be true no matter how low taxes got!

So who created all these myths? Bush? Mitt Romney? No, Andrew Mellon in the 1920s, who was Treasury Secretary under several Presidents and was the mastermind behind slashing the income tax top rate [in several steps] from 73% in 1921 to 25% on income over $100,000 in early 1926.

The handful of super rich like Rockefeller and Ford and Mellon all received $ Millions in tax cuts.

Were lots of new working class jobs created [trickle down]? NO!

All this extra cash in the hands of the plutocrats caused frenzied speculation and a stock market bubble and then a crash worse than the two in the first decade of the current century.

All this comes from the book.

P.S. What about "the biggest tax increase in history!"? Not Mellon, and not current times either. The biggest tax increase was in the early 1940s when the income tax, formerly only paid by the upper middle class and wealthy was extended to nearly everybody. Still you can expect to hear this claim repeated any time fairer rates for the wealthy are even being discussed.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A must-read book on the decline of the middle class., December 29, 2012
This review is from: America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? (Paperback)
Pulitzer prize winning research goes into this book presenting a history of taxes in America and the effects of different tax laws. Progressive tax laws provide for a strong middle class which in turn provides for a strong America. Our nation was at its strongest economically during the 1950's because we had progressive taxes. This book sets forth a multitude of facts to show how the enormous greed of many wealthy people is dismantling the middle class here in America. We are becoming a country of the few wealthy controlling the majority of lower class people. A civilization cannot survive without a solid middle class. How long can our experiment in representative democracy last? You should read this book if you care about a strong America and then make sure your representatives in Congress know that you will not reelect them unless they vote for laws that restore a solid middle class in our country.
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America: Who Really Pays the Taxes?
America: Who Really Pays the Taxes? by Donald L. Barlett (Paperback - March 23, 1994)
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