Part 2 of my TechTicker colleague Aaron Task’s sitdown with VP Joe Biden…
Aaron Task: With the April 15 tax filing deadline rapidly approaching, Vice President Joe Biden wants all Americans to know about the roughly $300 billion in tax breaks that were part of the Recovery Act passed last year.
There is a tax calculator on the White House web site to help Americans determine whether they’re eligible for any or all of the following:
- — Making Work Pay: The Work Pay tax credit of $400 for an individual or $800 for married couples filing jointly.
- — College Expenses: Families and students are eligible for up to $2,500 in tax savings.
- — Home Sweet Home: Homebuyers can get a credit of up to $8,000 for first homes purchased by April 30, 2010.
- — Cash for Caulkers: Taxpayers are eligible for up to $1,500 in tax credits for making some energy-efficiency improvements to their homes.
- — New Vehicle Purchases: Taxpayers can deduct state and local sales taxes or fees for vehicle purchases. (Note: this is in addition to the “Cash for Clunkers” program of last fall.)
- — Expanded Family Credits: Moderate income families with children may be eligible for an increase under the Earned Income Tax Credit and the additional Child Tax Credit.
- — Tax-free Jobless Benefits: The first $2,400 of unemployment benefits received in 2009 tax free.
In part two of my exclusive interview, I asked the Vice President whether we can afford these tax cuts, given the country’s massive federal deficits. Biden’s view is that we can’t afford not to do them: “We can’t afford to leave the middle class behind,” he says. “These things matter to people who are struggling and they matter to people who have lost their jobs as well.”
There’s also the issue of whether these tax cuts, in conjunction with the health care reform bill signed last week, represent a redistribution of wealth in America, as many claim.
“It’s a simple proposition to us: Everyone is entitled to adequate medical health care,” Biden says. “If you call that a ‘redistribution of income’ — well, so be it. I don’t call it that. I call it just being fair — giving the middle class taxpayers an even break that the wealthy have been getting.”
The top quintile of Americans earned 55.7% of pretax income and paid 69.3% of federal taxes in 2006, according to the most recent CBO data. But the Vice President isn’t buying the idea that the wealthiest are already paying their fair share, noting the top 1% of earners get 22% of all income made in the U.S.
“Taxes have been lowered for the wealthy considerably over the years,” he says. “It’s about time we get a little tax equity here.”
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