Gene Simmons Defends the 1 Percent, Claims Half of Americans Pay No Taxes: ‘Try Being Nice to Rich People’
By Marissa G. Muller
KISS frontman Gene Simmons presumably would have followed Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign closely, given that he vocally supported the former candidate, but one major error committed by the Republican party nominee must have slipped his radar – because he just repeated it.
In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, Simmons defended his one percent-er status, saying that without his ilk, “there would be chaos.”
“I have been part of the 1 percent for the past 30 years… It’s fantastic!” he said. “The 1 percent pays 80 percent of all taxes. Fifty percent of the population of the U.S. pays no taxes. The 1 percent provides all the jobs for everybody else. If the 1 percent didn’t exist, there would be chaos and the American economy would drop dead. Try being nice to rich people. I don’t remember the last poor person who gave me a job.”
Where exactly did Simmons get the statistic “fifty percent of the population of the U.S. pays no taxes”? Maybe he took Romney’s controversial statistic that 47 percent of Americans pay no income tax – which, it’s been estimated, in part cost him the election– as fact. But Simmons erroneously one-upped Romney, and then some, by saying that half of the nation pays no taxes at all.
The Washington Post‘s Glenn Kessler took it upon himself to fact-check Simmons’ statement and claims his understanding of how taxes work is flawed. “Simmons may enjoy the 1 percent lifestyle, but he needs to get his facts straight,” Kessler wrote. “The top 1 percent certainly pays a large share of taxes (and has a large share of income) but his claims are wildly off-base, especially when talking about ‘all taxes.’”
For starters, Kessler explained that there are other kinds of taxes Americans pay, outside of income tax, such as payroll taxes which go towards Social Security and Medicare and disproved Simmons’ theory that the one percent “pays 80 percent of all taxes.”
“The top 1 percent actually pays about 26 percent of all federal taxes, according to the Tax Policy Center. (A report from the Institute for Taxation and Economic Policy pegs the figure at nearly 24 percent if state and local taxes are included.),” he continued. “Even if you count only income taxes, it works out to 34 percent. Note that the top 1 percent pays just 4 percent of payroll taxes, as the burden of those taxes falls more heavily on the lower and middle classes.”
Simmons has not responded to the claim made by Kessler.