Why Vox’s Numbers for Bernie Sanders’s Tax Plans Are So Wrong

Having completed a thorough analysis of the impact of Bernie Sanders’s tax plans on incomes for individuals and families across the income spectrum, I was curious to see why the numbers in this article by Dylan Matthews in Vox were so different. Reviewing his analysis, I found that there were some analytical decisions we differed on, a few tax policies that Mr. Matthews omitted or implemented inaccurately, and some significant errors in his math. The result is that Matthews’s exaggerated all of the rates in Bernie’s plans. Even if we grant his decision to pool employee and employer taxes together, which I contend is misleading for a general audience, it turns out that his infamous 77% figure for the top bracket exceeds the real rate by nearly 10 points.

The figure above includes an accurate representation of total effective rates with taxes and average family healthcare costs included. As in Matthews’s analysis, I have pooled both the employee and employer contributions. While this gives a complete picture of the impacts of Bernie’s plans in comparison with current rates,the rates can be misleading if you’re curious what these plans mean to you. Some portions of the costs shown are paid out of an employee’s paycheck, but other portions are paid by employers behind the scenes. Additionally, the net differences (savings and increases) include the pooled amounts saved or paid by both employers and employees. If you’re looking for figures that relate more directly to what you could expect to save or pay, take a look at my previous post on Bernie Sanders’s tax plans. Otherwise, continue reading below for the details of where Mr. Matthews went wrong in his analysis.

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More About Bernie’s Taxes: Bachelors, Businesses, & Billionaires

In the time that has passed since my original Just How Much Would Bernie Sanders Tax Me? analysis,the Sanders campaign has experienced a virtual tie in the Iowa Caucuses and a significant win in New Hampshire. This makes an accurate perspective on Senator Sanders’s proposals even more important, as the campaign draws more scrutiny due to its demonstrated ability to win and the proposals become an increasingly real possibility for the American people.

My initial analysis found that 70% of families would save money under Senator Sanders’s plans, but it focused on a narrow perspective: take home pay for a family of four in the bottom 95 percent. There have been many discussions, colorful comments, and requests regarding other family situations and other ways of assessing tax burden, and I have enhanced my R code to be able to address these requests. In this post, I will discuss the impact of Bernie Sanders’s tax plans in the following contexts:

  • Take home pay for single men and single moms
  • Take home pay for very large income levels
  • Tax burden for employers

Continue reading “More About Bernie’s Taxes: Bachelors, Businesses, & Billionaires”

Just How Much Would Bernie Sanders Tax Me?

This post has been edited to correct an overestimation of taxes under Bernie’s Social Security tax plan. A detailed log of changes is available on Github (04/21/2016)

There are a lot of misleading and false rumors being spread about democratic presidential candidate Senator Bernie Sanders’s tax plans (TODO: link to Mom’s Facebook page for examples). With the recent release of his final tax plan, Medicare for All, Bernie has now described in detail precisely how each of his programs would be paid for. With this information, I have completed a comprehensive analysis of the impact that Bernie’s plans would have in the incomes of American families. The result is that more than 70% of families would save significant amounts of money under Bernie’s plans. The greatest savings would be for a family with an annual income of $34,000 or 140% of the Federal Poverty Level. This family would have $8,933 more in their pockets each year. The median family, with an income of $66,633, would save $7,729 per year.

Total burden of federal taxes and healthcare for a family of 4 filing joint taxes
Total burden of federal taxes and healthcare for a family of 4 filing joint taxes

Continue reading “Just How Much Would Bernie Sanders Tax Me?”