You often hear wild statistics about the percentage of the federal tax bill that is paid by various small percentages of the top earners in America. For some reason, maybe because I lack cable but always listen to the Sunday morning “news” shows as podcasts, it seems like it’s always either George Will or Newt Gingrich making it.
Ezra has a very pointed riposte. The first key point in the response is that Will or Newt are always talking only about income taxes when they recite their statistics. This is for an obvious reason: the income tax is the only progressive federal tax, which means that the poor pay very little (many pay none), and the rich pay comparatively more. Other federal taxes, like payroll and excise, are instead regressive.
So Ezra gives us a graph, as is his wont, of effective federal tax rate vs. total percentage of income for the five income quintiles:
Actually, on second thought, this graph doesn’t quite make the argument I want it to – I am still curious to know what the actual stats are on ‘percentage of federal tax burden vs. percentage of total income’ for each quintile. I think I need to know how many people are in each quintile to actually make this graph.
But still – the point is well made; that top quintile makes more than half the money, so it certainly makes sense that they pay more than half the taxes!!!