The Instigator
Con (against)
0 Points
The Contender
Pro (for)
6 Points

Progressive Tax

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 5/12/2015 Category: Economics
Updated: 3 years ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 798 times Debate No: 75176
Debate Rounds (3)
Comments (1)
Votes (1)




I am against a Progressive tax. Taking money from the rich, doesnt mean the Federal Government will give it to the poor. And define rich? and define poor? What makes a person poor, or what makes a person rich? People work hard for their money, whether you agree or not. There are plenty of poor people who worked hard, and are now rich


Greetings! Thanks for starting this debate.

To begin, I will point out a number of places where we agree.

  1. 1. Con: “Taking money from the rich, doesnt mean the Federal Government will give it to the poor.

Pro: True. The government may use tax money from high-income taxpayers for many expenses other than payments to the poor. For example, the US Air Force buys F-16 fighter jet from Lockheed Martin.[i]

However, I fail to see why this point suggests a progressive tax is wrong. A progressive tax is a system in which tax percentage increases as income increases.[ii] In other words, the system shifts a greater share of the burden of taxation to higher income taxpayers. Hence, whether a progressive tax is acceptable depends on whether increasing the tax percentage for higher income taxpayers is acceptable. Where that tax money goes afterward seems to me to be a different issue than whether increasing tax percentages for higher income groups is acceptable. Please feel free to elaborate, as I am not seeing what your point’s relevance is.

  1. 2. Con: “People work hard for their money, whether you agree or not.

Pro: True. I do agree, generally. While I am not sure Paris Hilton has to work as hard at making money as most people do, I do not really have a concern with this statement. Again, however, I do not see its relevance to whether a progressive tax system is acceptable.

  1. 3. Con: “There are plenty of poor people who worked hard, and are now rich.”

Pro: True. I again do not see the relevance to our issue.

Next, I want to address the important threshold question that you helpfully pointed out: “And define rich? and define poor? What makes a person poor, or what makes a person rich?” To avoid being sidetracked by this question, which could be its own debate, I suggest we consider the IRS system for defining who is rich and who is poor. That system uses six increasing income tax percentages, with each applying over a particular income range.[iii] Under the 2015 tax brackets, for example, an individual who earned $10,225 would pay 10% on the first $9,225 and 15% for the next $1,000. The total tax in this example would be $1,072.50. You could certainly have an entire debate about whether this system correctly defines who is poor and who is rich. However, if we are going to get anywhere in the debate at hand, we might want to focus on whether the increase in tax percentages for the higher income brackets is acceptable, not whether the bracket ranges are correctly defined. You raise a very good question, but it is potentially complex enough to warrant its own separate debate.

Finally, I want to start explaining the pro position for having a progressive tax system. I will be using the U.S. system as an example. First, let us see what the effect of a flat tax percentage system might be for a particular individual. To simplify, I am avoiding considerations for the moment like the earned income tax credit and am focusing just on the tax bracket percentages and taxable income. The IRS has reported that the total of all taxable income reported in 2012 was $6,246,314,009,000. The total income tax was $1,188,027,223,000.[iv] If everyone paid the same income tax percentages, collecting that total income tax from that total income would require an income tax rate of approximately 19% (total income income/total taxable income). In the example of the individual with an income of $10,225, the total tax would be $1,942.75 instead of the current $1,072.50, which is an increase of $870.25.

The problem with increasing the tax by $870.25 on someone who only makes $10,225 per year is that such an individual would have a difficult time paying that additional amount while still paying for the basic necessities of life. The basic living expenses for an individual living in Grand Rapids, Michigan, for example, amounts to 15,876 per year.[v] The principle reason for using a progressive tax rate is a recognition that those individuals with lower incomes have less ability to pay than those with higher incomes. A flat tax fails to address the point that a 19% tax rate would be harder on someone who earns $10,225 per year than someone who earns $100,000 per year.

This is probably a good start for now. I look forward to your reply.

Debate Round No. 1


It still does not justify, just because there are poor people, with low income, that we tax the rich heavily. Thats Communism by the way. It also deters people who are middle, class , 1st class, not to work hard and stay poor, because well all these low income individuals will recieve tons of money from the federal government. Why take away money from epopel who earned it, and give a lot to people who may not deserve it?
Giving the poor money, doesnt necceseraily mean it will help them. They choose how to spend their money, so they might not spend it well, leading them to be poorer


I thought we were debating whether to have a progress tax scheme. You do not seem to want to focus on that issue. Instead, you want to debate the welfare system. As we both agreed before, a progressive tax scheme is not necessarily about giving money to the poor. A progressive tax scheme is about collecting funds, not distributing funds. Once we subtract your arguments against the welfare system and an incorrect definition of communism[i], your response becomes the following:

“It still does not justify, just because there are poor people, with low income, that we tax the rich heavily. . . . It also deters people who are middle, class , 1st class, not to work hard and stay poor . . . .”

Your first point appears to be a bare denial of a scarecrow version of my prior argument. I am not arguing that the mere existence of poor people alone justifies taxing the rich more. I clearly indicated that the justification turned on “ability to pay.” Tax percentages on poor people are lowered in consideration of their ability to pay. For sufficient funds to be collected, the government must therefore raise the income percentages on higher income earners. You still have yet to address this ability to pay point fairly.

Your second point—that a progressive tax deters hard work—could be an interesting conclusion, but your supporting reason for it was again about the welfare system. We are not debating distribution of funds to the poor. We are debating taxation via tiers of progressively higher tax percentages.

Since you have only one round left to respond, I will stop here for the moment so that hopefully you can focus your response on these two points: (1) responding to my point that a flat tax fails to consider the ability of the poor to pay higher taxes and (2) supporting your point that a progressive tax scheme is a deterrence on hard work. I would suggest avoiding emotional appeals not supported by reason and keeping your argument focused on tax collection, not welfare distribution.

[i] Communism involves state ownership of property and the means of production and transportation. There is no private property. . A tax on private income, even a progressive tax, necessarily involves private property and is therefore not communist. You reference to communism is an effort to play on the emotional baggage of communism and is not founded on reason.

Debate Round No. 2


naponiello forfeited this round.


My opponent opposes progressive taxation, but he was unable to provide any support related to this position. He does provide a lot of support related to reducing or eliminating the welfare system, but this debate was never about distribution. This was never a debate about giving to the poor. This was a debate about collections. My opponent also made a few points that are relatively unobjectionable. I agree, for instance, that people work hard for their money. I agree that some poor people have worked hard and are now rich. The problem here is that it is not completely clear how these points relate to the tax scheme. Should the level of taxation turn on some measure of how “hard” someone works? How do we define “hard?” How do we measure “hard”? Is my opponent suggesting that poor people are poor because they do not work hard? If so, where is his evidence for that premise?

My opponent stated his position against a progressive tax scheme and then proceeded to ramble unsupported conservative talking points without consideration for how those talking points rationally relate to the matter under debate. The problem with my opponent’s approach is that he has willfully ignored the principle basis for a progressive tax scheme: ability to pay. Given that sufficient income to exist requires almost $16,000 a year, lower income earners have less available income to pay taxes. The more their money is diverted to taxes, the more they must rely on outside help to continue to eat and pay basic bills. Perversely, higher taxes on lower income earners could drive them toward the welfare system my opponent deplores. In recognition of the decreased ability of lower income earners to pay taxes, their income tax level is reduced. Since the government must still collect sufficient revenue (or at least obtain an “acceptable” level of deficit spending), the income tax level of higher income earners must unfortunately rise. Given their higher incomes, however, they have the ability to pay that lower income earners lack.

Once both sides had acknowledged the “ability to pay” consideration, this debate should have then considered the data on the effects on the overall economy of taxing lower income earners vs higher income earners. However, there was little point in that exercise when one party to the debate does not want to face the issue directly. Given that my opponent chose to ignore the main issue and to instead rail against the welfare system while making unsupported suggestions about how hard poor people work, his position on progressive taxation remains an unsupported statement of opposition. He never made an effort to meet the pro position fairly. He never bothered to finish this debate and forfeited his last round. Therefore, Con clearly lost.

Debate Round No. 3
1 comment has been posted on this debate.
Posted by kasmic 3 years ago
Please define progressive taxation
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by daem0n 3 years ago
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Total points awarded:06 
Reasons for voting decision: Con started a debate without even understanding what the topic refers to, and then forfeited. Only Pro actually made any arguments about progressive taxation or cited any sources.