Jonah Goldberg and the Myth of ‘Tax Freedom’ Day

Right-wing columnist Jonah Goldberg leads his column today (USA Today, 4/6/10):

Congratulations! This is your last week working for the man–at least for this year. The Tax Foundation calculates that Tax Freedom Day for 2010 is April 9, which means that by Friday, Americans will have spent nearly 100 days working just to pay their taxes. If Democrats have their way, Tax Freedom Day will keep getting later and later.

Every year there are journalists swallow this line–and every year, theCenter on Budget & Policy Priorities points out that the Tax Foundation’s study has serious methodological flaws. Most importantly, the group points out that even the Tax Foundationdoesn’t claim that it’s showing how far into the year the typical American must work in order to pay their taxes. As CBPP’s report this year puts it:

The Tax Foundation itself acknowledges this issue in a methodology paper accompanying its report, pointing out that its estimates reflect the ‘average tax burden for the economy as a whole, rather than for specific subgroups of taxpayers.â┚¬Ã‚ Journalists and others who report on “Tax Freedom Day” as if it represented the day until which the typical or average American must work to pay his or her taxes are misinterpreting these figures and inadvertently fostering misimpressions about the level of taxes most Americans pay.

About Peter Hart

Activism Director and and Co-producer of CounterSpinPeter Hart is the activism director at FAIR. He writes for FAIR's magazine Extra! and is also a co-host and producer of FAIR's syndicated radio show CounterSpin. He is the author of The Oh Really? Factor: Unspinning Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly (Seven Stories Press, 2003). Hart has been interviewed by a number of media outlets, including NBC Nightly News, Fox News Channel's O'Reilly Factor, the Los Angeles Times, Newsday and the Associated Press. He has also appeared on Showtime and in the movie Outfoxed. Follow Peter on Twitter at @peterfhart.