ATR: Double Check Your Figures

The Friends of Americans for Tax Reform Blog has some numbers depicting how much more the Average person will pay if the House allows the Bush Tax Cuts to Expire and based on the figures they have for North Dakota I would like to advise them to double check their figures.

ATR says that the average North Dakotan will pay $2,613.80.

However, when you look at the ND Federal Taxes as compiled by the Tax Foundation the Bush tax cuts only amounted to $200 decrease in taxes in the first place.

So either the Democrats are proposing the largest tax increase in the nation’s history and no one is talking about it, or someone’s numbers are hinky. I will leave that to the experts.

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One Response to ATR: Double Check Your Figures

  1. nodakfarmboy says:

    Note the word “average”.

    That can be a very misleading figure.

    Lets say ND has five people. Under the proposed tax-cut rollback, three of them will pay 0 dollars more, (lower and middle class folks), 1 will pay, oh, let’s say, 500 dollars more, and some really rich individual will pay 12565 dollars more.

    Under this scenario (entirely made up, but just for statistical purposes) our friends at Americans for Tax Reform could breathlessly warn us “The average tax increase for a North Dakotan will be 2613 dollars!” Average per capita? Yes. But is everyone going to be paying that? Hell no.

    But it gets worse. Note that the ATR statistic doesn’t say “average per capita” which our above example dealt with, but only “average tax increase”. Tax increase per what? Or is it just the average of tax increases? This is key. Yet another made up, statistical example. If there were 10,000 taxpayers in North Dakota, and I gave a tax cut or no tax increase to 9998 of them, but the other two each received a tax increase of 2613 dollars, I could say the following…

    “The average tax increase in North Dakota will be 2613 dollars!” And technically I wouldn’t be lying. There were two tax increases, and they averaged 2613 dollars.

    Then, I could take my technically correct stat, be misleading with it. Now, I don’t want to accuse the good folks at ATR of lying, but there sure as hell is something intellectually dishonest about a headline that reads “How much more in taxes will you be paying?” as if each and every taxpayer will be paying that amount. They provide no such information. Not so cool. Go ahead and tell us the average, but enough with the misleading headlines. Tell us the average of what, and how it works.

    How to lie/mislead with statistics 101.

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