Saturday, October 25th, 2014

Keeping them honest on Tax Day

Max Martinez, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, tries to alert motorists on the final day to file taxes Monday, April 18, 2011, in Cleveland.
Max Martinez, dressed as the Statue of Liberty, tries to alert motorists on the final day to file taxes Monday, April 18, 2011, in Cleveland.

Although tax day traditionally falls on April 15, the date was pushed back this year because Emancipation Day -- a holiday observed in the District of Columbia -- fell on  Friday April 15 and was followed by a weekend.

Unaffected was the tradition of politicians using the milestone to rail against taxes.

In honor of that tradition, we offer you two tax day fact-checks:

First up is a claim from Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus that "Americans will pay more in taxes in 2011 than they will spend on groceries, clothing and shelter combined."

When you look at it as an aggregate measurement -- total amount spent on groceries, clothing and shelter versus the total amount Americans paid in taxes -- he's correct. But of you consider it as a description of the pattern for individual Americans, he'd be wrong more often than he's right. On balance, we rated his claim Half True.

Next, we looked into a claim made by Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., a potential 2012 GOP presidential candidate, who offered this striking statistic describing how much of the tax burden in the United States is borne by the wealthy: "The top 1 percent of income-earners pay about 40 percent of all taxes into the federal government."

Bachmann would have been right if she’d said, "the top 1 percent of income earners pay about 40 percent of all income taxes into the federal government." But she didn't. And if you look at the overall tax burden, she's wrong. We rated her statement False.