Overheard on CNN.com: Should wealthy Americans be taxed differently?
Congress is debating how to extend the payroll tax cut set to expire at the end of the year.
December 7th, 2011
07:35 PM ET

Overheard on CNN.com: Should wealthy Americans be taxed differently?

Editor's note: This post is part of the Overheard on CNN.com series, a regular feature that examines interesting comments and thought-provoking conversations posted by the community.

In light of Congress' work to fix the budget and haggle over the payroll tax cut, the perennial debate over the haves and have-nots is heating up. President Obama said Tuesday that some of the wealthiest in America pay far less in federal taxes as a percentage of their income than many lower on the income scale. He said in a speech that "a quarter of all millionaires now pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Some billionaires have a tax rate as low as 1%." (These numbers are not fully verifiable.)

Obama: Billionaires and millionaires should pay more taxes

The CNNMoney commenter response to this statement was interesting, and both passionate and personal. We heard from several folks who read the story and talked about how they became wealthy.

clr33: "I was a single, broke female with a child. I scratched a living while I put myself through school with no child support (father dead). I am now quite wealthy. I still work over 14 hours a day. I donate 20% of what I make. I set aside 10% more for my son and his family's inheritance. I pay for my parents' mortgage as a means to pay back the help they gave me in a time when I needed someone to watch my son. Why am I condemned now for this? Why must I give over most of my money to those who do not want to work this hard?"

There was also some cynicism about earning wealth.

bobbiss: "I have associated in a partnership with so-called millionaires in my career, as a partner and both were crooks. I went on my own. So my opinion of millionaires is just that, they got their fortunes, as crooks. The system is set up for them to screw people. The system is there to help them succeed. I am retired with money I earned honestly and paid taxes for and still pay taxes. I left these partnerships when I smelled a rat. The Occupy generation needs your support to get it right."

Many commenters said it's important to have wealthy people around to build the economy and create jobs, and many commenters also said they feared keeping taxes low would hurt the government and economy.

hokiefan: "Any money flowing downward from the corporations, rich, etc., feeds the economy. Show me a country where 'from each according to their ability, to each according to their needs' has ever worked? Who cares if the rich spend less of a percentage? They pay more taxes than 90% of the rest of us. This POTUS and his tribe are feeding the flames of class warfare. Class warfare has never created a stable, prosperous country."

useyourhead: "Lower taxes have never produced a great economy either. (And especially without record government spending, which hides the fact that low taxes even works at all!)"

There was a heated debate over flat taxes, with some saying they're fairer for everyone and others saying the numbers are deceptive.

fleetingfree: "We could cut everyone's taxes to a much more reasonable level if the write-offs were just gone. This would benefit the middle class the most. The write-offs are a scam for people with lawyers and accountants. All we need is one standard deduction for poverty level and then a flat tax rate."

phelonius: "Sorry, flat taxes do not benefit anyone but the richest. Period."

But many felt the rich weren't paying enough.

PeterPSA: "I also want to pay no taxes, just like those 4,000 households earning more than $1 million. I work hard, every day, often evenings and weekends. I don't have a swimming pool to lay by or swim in, I have a tiny backyard with a lawn chair, but lord knows I work my b'tt off. I work as hard or harder than those rich folks. And if corporations are people, then I also want to be treated like a corporation, since I am a person just like they are. I've heard they pay no taxes, either. Why am I being left out of these nice deals?"

hokiefan: "We do tax the rich at 35%, plus 7% state, plus 15% capital gains, plus sales tax. The top 10% pay 70% of all collected taxes in the U.S. Why is that not enough?"

Now, we want to know what you think about taxes, wealth and the economy. How much should people be taxed, and in what way? Is our current system fair, and how can we fix it? What do you think about the current loopholes out there? Share your ideas for solving the tax conundrum in the comments area below.

Share your opinion in the comments area below and in the latest stories on CNN.com. Or sound off on video via CNN iReport.

Compiled by the CNN.com moderation staff. Some comments edited for length or clarity.

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Filed under: Economy • Finance • Overheard on CNN.com • Taxes
soundoff (38 Responses)
  1. hamsta

    The only reason unemployment is so high is obama keeps extending unemployment.i get hired on a daily basis.the only reason i work every day is the fact that i want a job.jobs are there for anyone willing to work.

    December 8, 2011 at 7:31 am | Report abuse | Reply
  2. Grebe

    Let's try something that works and then fails. Why not set the tax rates the same as the Clinton years. Recover from this mess and get our country back on the right track.Then, we can hand it back over to the tax cut cry babies and watch our economy go back in the toilet. Sounds too much like a good idea ?

    December 8, 2011 at 11:18 am | Report abuse | Reply
  3. geen

    If you make 60,000$ a year and after tax about 45,000 like me and have a family than you know your just getting by. For all the wealthy who say, "I work hard for my money why should I be any different." Believe me most of us also do but may have not have had the same opportunities as the wealthy. If I had the chance I would make a million dollars and wouldn't complain if I had to pay 50% taxes becuase that still leaves me with 500,000$ far more than enough and in a much better position than I am now, regardless of the tax rate. The the thing is the rich are just too greedy.

    December 11, 2011 at 4:24 am | Report abuse | Reply
  4. Mehdi

    We have a serious issue in this country, it's not the economy, it's not gov't, it's not the poor or the unemployed...it's the fact that as soon as we get somebody who's willing to work hard to benefit us, we turn around and let him fight the wolves of K street by himself, and of course he loses against billions of dollars of lobbying money, money that's used to paint him as a socialist and all sorts of wild crazy things. I can't believe that we now talk about teachers and gov't workers who provide necessary services as if they're the ones who caused the economic crisis and lowered tax revenues due to lower economic activity, that's a very dangerous shift in ideology, when you claim that the person who educate your bratty kids for $35000/year is the root of all evil, the fact that when you say that unemployment insurance makes people lazy...give me a break, who wants to be on a $500/month check, when they have all those bills to pay, if you think that just being on unemployment insurance makes you lazy, you have a serious issue with empathy, by blaming the other for their hardships to relieve yourself from any responsibility towards them as fellow americans and human beings, so I guess the lazy one would be you...everybody wants a decent living, people would kill for jobs, for opportunities, and to throw them to the butcher when they lose their job, and take away their dignity, when we can afford to make sure they're not dead on a street corner as a wealthy country, it's a very dangerous ideology

    December 16, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Report abuse | Reply
  5. ray dickerson

    the rich has used the tax system to protect their wealth though loopholes and consessions because there was a middle class paying into the tax system do they still expect to do the same now that the middle class is being wiped out they need to step up pay up until the economy gets bsck on track and then they can write off and take millions again from the true taxpayers

    December 22, 2011 at 7:10 pm | Report abuse | Reply
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