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Why doesn't Stephen King pay more in taxes?

Stephen King's column at the Daily Beast, questioning why he and other well-off Americans aren't paying more in taxes, created controversy among readers.

Albert Ferreira/AP
'If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning,' King writes of the Occupy protests in his column.

Prolific author Stephen King is drawing attention for his column for the Daily Beast, titled “Tax Me…,” in which he asks why he and other financially well-off members of society aren’t paying more in taxes.

King said he’d brought up the question of why he doesn’t pay more taxes at a Florida rally and received lukewarm response.

“Cut a check and shut up, they said,” King wrote in his column. “If you want to pay more, pay more, they said. Tired of hearing about it, they said… I’m not tired of talking about it.”

King said that when he and other wealthy Americans raise the question as to why they’re well-off financially but don’t pay more taxes they often get told that they should donate to organizations if they’re so determined to help with their money.

“Why don’t we get real about this?” the author wrote. “Most rich folks paying 28 percent taxes do not give out another 28 percent of their income to charity. Most rich folks like to keep their dough…. And what they do give away is – like the monies my wife and I donate – totally at their own discretion.”

The problem, says King, is that the discretionary donations that he and others make to their favorite charities won’t fix major US problems like education in or health care, among other issues that King says need to be addressed.

Every American citizen, even if his or her income is higher, needs to step up and pay, says the author.

“Those who have received much must be obligated to pay – not to give, not to ‘cut a check and shut up,’ in Governor Christie’s words, but to pay – in the same proportion,” he wrote. “That’s called stepping up and not whining about it. That’s called patriotism, a word the Tea Partiers love to throw around as long as it doesn’t cost their beloved rich folks any money.”

In his column, King pointed to the Occupy protests last year as the beginning of a backlash against the wealthy who aren’t paying as much in taxes, comparing the wealthy who reacted to the protests to Marie Antoinette (“Let them eat cake”) and Ebenezer Scrooge (“Are there no prisons? Are there no workhouses?”).

“Short-sighted, gentlemen,” King wrote. “Very short-sighted. If this situation isn’t fairly addressed, last year’s protests will just be the beginning. Scrooge changed his tune after the ghosts visited him. Marie Antoinette, on the other hand, lost her head.”

King’s column prompted a flurry of comments, some supportive and some critical.

“A person's money is THEIRS, if you earned it honestly,” wrote a commenter named Blackthrone. “So what you are proposing dear sir, is a actual enslavement to our government. When we give all we earn to the government in return for services we are then at the mercy of government to provide quality services. What happens when they don't?”

However, a user named RobCampbell supported King’s column.

“What a fantastic surprise – writes great books (I've read 'em all) and endeavors to right wrongs!!“ the commenter wrote.

Molly Driscoll is a Monitor contributor.

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