Bernie's Tax Returns: the Socialist Hypocrisy

Democratic frontrunner and devout socialist Bernie Sanders often mentions on the campaign trail that the wealthy and the country's 1% need to pay their "fair share". But Bernie's private tax returns tell a different story than his public message.

According to his released tax returns, Bernie had a good year in 2018. His income of $566,421 puts him solidly in the 1% of the country. 67% of that income comes from his business venture "Book Royalties Macmillian"; revenues generated from his book sales. Of the remaining income, $44k are social security benefits and $133k come from his income as a Senator.

Now remember, Bernie's message to voters is that the 1% don't pay their "fair share". He argues that the wealthy should pay more in taxes because the current top tax rate of 37% isn't high enough. According to Bernie's tax return, his effective tax rate is 28% on total taxable income of $519,529. 

Mr. Fairshare himself decided to shield $41,746 of his income from taxes using deductions. That equates to almost $15k less to Uncle Sam to pay for other people's healthcare. If he really believes the wealthy should pay more, than why is he taking deductions?

Income for a U.S. Senator is $174k. As stated above, Sanders' W2 shows $40k less than that amount. This means he took advantage of a tax shielding program like "contributions to the Thrift Savings Plan" (federal employees' version of a 401k) to pay even less in taxes. That $40k would amount to another $14k less taxes for Uncle Sam to subsidize renewable energy programs. If Bernie really wanted to pay his fair share, he wouldn't seek tax shelter investment accounts.

Now we, of course, aren't opposed to people using these tax deductions. We'd prefer people keep more of their income for themselves and their family. But that is not what Socialist Bernie professes to believe for people of his income class. In fact, if Bernie just accepted that someone making $566k should pay a flat 37%, his tax bill would be $209k. That's $64k more he could donate to the U.S. Treasury. And in case you aren't aware, they allow people to do this on their website.

Bernie has attracted a big following from the youth because there's a perception that he's a straight shooter and ideologically consistent socialist. But when you look at the numbers, Bernie is just another typical politician who says one thing, and does the complete opposite. 

The problem with the socialist vision from people like Bernie is that what really lies behind their vision is a powerful government that uses force to take income away from productive people. Instead of using voluntary vehicles like private charity to help the less fortunate in our society, socialists divide us into classes of identities and use the force of government to extract money from one class to redistribute to others. This is the antithesis of freedom and not quite the virtuous endeavor that college academics make it out to be. 

Socialists like Bernie are either missing a very important detail in their analysis of capitalism or purposely suppressing it for their own benefit. It's indisputable that capitalism produces more wealth than any other system of economics; thus raising the standard of living of all individuals in the society. The Bernies of the world come along and point out that there is an unequal distribution of wealth in a capitalist system while dismissing how this sort of distribution has absolutely nothing to do with capitalism in particular. In fact, it predates western societies by thousands, if not millions of years.

Archeological digs show an unequal distribution of treasures buried with people in ancient cultures. Some were buried with gold, some were buried with nothing. In today's world, we see this same concept play out in sports and art. LeBron James scores more points and provides more value than 99% of the other players in the world who play basketball. J.K. Rowling sells more books than 99% of other authors (most don't make anything writing books). And only a small amount of musical artists, get the majority of the downloads online. 

The Bernie socialist vision is a bad one for our country. Instead of looking how politicians can be more intrusive in our lives and own a larger portion of our productivity, we should be moving towards less government and more freedom. We can look at the actions of the socialists like Bernie to realize that they don't practice what they preach. Even at their core, the Bernie's of the world prefer economic freedom for themselves. It shows up every time they release their tax returns.



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  • J Scott Casper
    commented 2020-02-10 17:11:25 -0600
    This is the definition of a hypocrite