Doctors Pay Their "Fair" Share

Physician's Money Digest, May 15 2004, Volume 11, Issue 9

This election season, the class warfaregame is in full bloom—with themajor media too often advancing thebelief that if you're successful, you'resomehow undeserving. Of course someachieved their means by luck, deceit, orheritage, but most accomplished personsreached that point through sweat. Prideshould always accompany hard work,regardless of the endeavor.

Since physicians, by any legitimatejudgment, are hard working, successfulpeople, it stands to reason that they tooshould be satisfied with their efforts.Over the years I've observed that mostphysicians are proud of their work, butnot without having to endure a societythat occasionally likes to look down onthem and other thriving people for theirpursuit of excellence.

Doctors can gauge success frommany levels—helping society, healingpatients, and curing disease—but sinceit's pretty hard to pay the bills withthose things, a more concrete measurementis post-tax compensation. Thosenumbers aren't pretty.

Physician's Money Digest

True, the wealthiest Americans—that's you, docs—are bringing in a biggershare of the country's total adjustedgross income (AGI), according to the NationalTaxpayers Union (www.ntu.org).But they're also footing a larger portionof the tax bill, according to IRS statistics.In 2001, the latest date for whichthere are complete figures, if your AGItopped $127,904 (ie, about 75% of readers),you're in the nation's top 5% of taxpayers.This group paid about 53% of allfederal income taxes.

Physician's Money Digest

With an AGI of more than $92,754(ie, 90% of readers), you make the top 10%, whichpaid nearly 65% of the income taxbill. The top 25% all US taxpayers (ie,those with incomes of $56,085 or more)accounted for about 83% of all personalfederal income taxes.

These figures represent only federalincome tax levies. When you add instate, property, local, sales, and investmenttaxes, it's a wonder how doctorscan open their office doors. It's very distressing.Successful people do pay theirway—and more. They are the models.The way to improve society is to inspire,not divide.