FUNDAMENTAL TRUTH #85: “The rich pay more than their fair share of income taxes to provide tax relief for the poor and middle class.” –Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - September 27th, 2011

The ‘Rich’ Obama wants to Tax more already Pays the Majority of all Federal Income Taxes

Some people complain that too much wealth is concentrated in too few hands.  And they say that isn’t fair.  But you know what else is concentrated into too few hands?  Federal income taxes.  That is, who pays these taxes.  The top 10 percent of income earners pay about 70% of the taxes.  That doesn’t sound fair.  This 10% paying 70% of the tax bill.  While 90% only pays 30% of the tax bill.  No, this isn’t fair.  But that’s okay.  At least that’s what the 90% think.  I mean, we don’t hear them demanding to pay their fair share of federal income taxes, do we?

Let’s look at some of the numbers.  From 2008 tax returns (see Table 2.  Returns with Modified Taxable Income [1]: Tax Generated, by Rate).

The first thing that jumps out at you is that the poor pay no income taxes.  Only the middle class and rich do.  The biggest income groups of taxpayers are those earning from $100,000 to $200,000.  And from $200,000 to $500,000.

Are these factory workers?  No.  Are these construction workers?  No.  These aren’t blue collar jobs.  These are white collar jobs.  And small business owners.  Currently in the crosshairs of the Obama administration.  Those ‘rich’ people who aren’t paying their fair share of taxes.  People who in fact pay the majority of all federal income taxes.

Those who don’t Pay Income Taxes are Dictating Tax Policy on those who Do

So why is president Obama so vilifying these most generous ‘rich’ people?  Because it’s the largest group of ‘rich’ people whose taxes he can raise.  From the same data let’s take a look at the distribution of income earners.  By looking at the number of actual tax returns filed by each group.

Interesting.  The distribution has shifted down to the lower income groups.  There are very few people earning $1 million or more and yet they pay a substantial amount of the total federal income tax.  While there are a great number of people earning less than $50 thousand who pay little to no federal income tax.

There’s another way to look at these numbers.  One person one vote.  Despite the amount of money you earn.  And the amount of taxes you pay.  Or the lack of taxes you pay.  So in essence what we have is those who don’t pay income taxes dictating tax policy on those who do.  Hence the appeal of class warfare.  Tax the rich?  Raise tax rates on high earners?  A millionaire’s tax?  Absolutely.  As long as I remain in the near 50% of those people who pay no income taxes.

Small Business Owners Earn a lot because they’re both CEO and Investor

There’s yet another way to look at these numbers.  With 70% of all taxes paid by those earning $100,000 or more let’s focus on these people.  We’ve summarized this data here (Taxable Income and Income Tax Generated are in thousands of dollars):

The sweet spot of tax revenue are the people earning from $100,000 to $200,000.  Who pay an effective tax rate of 17.91%.  And a good chunk of these are small business owners.  Who have S corporations.  Where their earnings pass directly to their private income tax return.  That’s why they earn so much.  Because they’re both CEO.  And equity investor.  But they don’t use those retained earnings to live an extravagant lifestyle.  No.  Instead, they use them to grow their business.  And create jobs.

Raising the tax rate on those retained earnings will not help grow these businesses.  In fact, it will prevent these businesses from growing.  And you don’t want to do that.  Because not only do these small business owners pay as much in federal income taxes as all the millionaires do.  They also create the majority of jobs in the American economy.

If you want Tax Policy that will Raise Tax Revenue don’t Raise Tax Rates on Job Creators

Is the purpose of tax policy to raise tax revenue?  Or politics?  When about half of the people pay no income taxes there is definitely a political aspect in taxing the rich.  But exploiting the political capital in the tax code defeats the purpose of the tax code.  Raising taxes.  Let’s look at a simple example.

Everyone agrees that lowering taxes helps businesses more than raising taxes.  That’s why even President Obama extended the Bush tax cuts to prevent a double-dip recession.  So let’s look at some numbers.  Let’s say we make it more business friendly out there.  Cut back on some onerous regulations that cost businesses.  Such as repealing Obamacare. Or some other costly legislation(s).  Not cutting taxes mind you.  Just cutting the costs on the job creators.

If we do this business-friendly deregulation let’s assume businesses respond.  They do well and grow.  And these small business owners earn more income.  So much that about 20% of them move up from the $100,000 to $200,000 income group to the $200,000 to $500,000 income group.  This group pays an effective tax rate of 23.3%.  Federal income taxes would increase approximately $100 billion with this growth in income.  Or an increase of 23.3%.  And that’s without cutting taxes.  Imagine what they could do if did cut taxes.

If you want good tax policy.  If you want tax policy that will raise tax revenue.  Don’t raise tax rates on job creators.  Instead, cut their costs.  Cut the cost of job creation.  Then watch the jobs they’ll create.  And the tax revenue they’ll pay.  Both the small business owners.  And their new employees.

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