FT150: “The Left wants to extend tax hikes down to those earning $250,000 because there are just too few rich people to tax.” —Old Pithy

Posted by PITHOCRATES - December 29th, 2012

Fundamental Truth

If you Confiscated ALL Income from those Earning a Million+ it would be Less than HALF of the Average Obama Deficit

The fiscal cliff yadda yadda yadda the Democrats want to raise taxes and the Republicans’ mothers are whores.  That about summarizes the fiscal cliff negotiations.  The Democrats want to raise taxes.  The Republicans don’t because there is nothing that will kill off an economic recovery quicker than raising taxes.  And the Democrats are mean.  Calling the Republicans a lot of names.  And saying things about them that aren’t very nice.  So once again let’s look at the numbers to see what they say about federal income taxes.  The following numbers come from the IRS (see Table 3.  Number of Individual Income Tax Returns, Income, Exemptions and Deductions, Tax, and Average Tax, by Size of Adjusted Gross Income, Tax Years 2001-2010).

The Democrats keep saying that the Republicans want tax cuts for the rich paid for by the poor.  But according to these numbers that’s just not happening.  People who earned $15,000 or less paid 0.0% of all federal income taxes.  People who earned $30,000 or less paid less than 1% of all federal income taxes.  It’s the meaty center that paid the taxes.  Those who earned from $75,000 to $1 million submitted approximately 20.5% of all federal tax returns while they paid approximately 62.9% of all federal income taxes.

Now how about those rich people?  Those earning $1 million or more submitted approximately 0.19% of all tax returns.  Less than a quarter of one percent.  And yet they paid approximately 21.9% of all income taxes.  Is that fair?  At these high levels of income people pay basically the top marginal tax rate as only a very small fraction of their earnings falls outside this top rate.  So if we divide the total taxes paid by this 0.18% ($207 billion) by 0.35 (the 2010 top marginal tax rate) you get a total income of $590 billion.  So if you confiscated ALL of their earnings it would be less than HALF of the average Obama deficit ($1.324 trillion).  Meaning that it is IMPOSSIBLE to reduce the deficit with any tax rate on those earning $1 million or more.

The Rich may be paying Lower Tax Rates but they’re paying Far More Tax Dollars than most of Us

All right, so it won’t reduce the deficit.  But the Democrats say we must do this to be fair.  Meaning those earning more should pay more even if it’s only symbolic.  To punish success.  As if they’re not being punished already for their success.  We’ve all heard about Warren Buffet’s secretary paying a larger tax rate than he pays.  But talking percentages isn’t the same as talking dollars.  Because a small percentage on a much larger earnings amount will produce more tax revenue than a higher tax rate on a smaller earnings amount.  So let’s look at dollar amounts to see if the rich are paying their fair share.  Or whether we’re punishing them enough for their success.

The rich paid a smaller percentage of their earnings in taxes but paid far more in actual dollar amounts.  Which is the only thing that allows government to pay for things.  Dollars.  Let’s assume Warren Buffet’s secretary falls into the income range $50,000 to $75,000.  Who paid on average $4,310.92 in federal income taxes.  Now compare this to what rich people paid in income taxes.  Those earning from $1 million to $1.5 million paid on average $306,779 in federal income taxes.  Or more than 71 times what someone earning $50,000 to $75,000 paid.  Those earning $1,500,000 to $2,000,000 paid 102 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $2,000,000 to $5,000,000 paid 179 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $5,000,000 to $10,000,000 paid 407 times more than that lower income earner.  Those earning $10 million or more paid 1,389 times more than that lower income earner.

The rich may be paying lower tax rates but they’re paying far more tax dollars than most of us.  An inordinate amount.  If you look at it in terms of government services people consume (which is what taxes pay for) are those earning $10 million or more consuming 1,389 times the government services those earning $50,000 to $75,000 consume?  No.  If anything, they consume far less government services than most people.  Because they live the good life.  The good life their high earnings provide.  Being that the rich are paying far more than their fair share you can only conclude then that these excessive taxes are punitive.  To punish their success.

The only way to Achieve Real Deficit Reduction is to Increase Taxes on the Middle Class or Cut Spending

So what can we conclude?  The rich are paying more than their fair share of taxes.  The amount of tax dollars they’re paying could even qualify as being punitive.  As they are so great any further increase in rates on the rich is not likely to increase tax revenue.  First of all as they are already paying so much they will take every tax shelter advantage they can to minimize the further confiscation of their earnings.  But more important than that is that there are just so few rich people.  Even though the rich pay on average hundreds of times more in federal income taxes than that meaty center it’s the meaty center where most of the tax revenue comes from.  Because there are so many more people in the meaty center.  And by graphing the number of tax returns from each income bracket and the amount of tax revenue they pay we can understand why the Democrats are so adamant to raise taxes on those earning as little as $250,000.

The blue line (Series 1) is the number of tax returns filed in thousands of people for each income bracket (the left vertical axis).  The red line (Series 2) is the total tax revenue in millions of dollars each income bracket produces (the right vertical axis).  You can see the meaty center of tax revenue (from those earning $75,000 to $1 million).  And you can see the meaty center of those filing tax returns (form those earning $30,000 to $200,000).  As you can see the meaty center of tax filers and tax payers are not the same.  As the tax code shifts the tax burden onto the higher income earners.  And in this chart we can see why the Democrats want to increase tax rates on those earning $250,000 and more.

The drawback to progressive tax rates is that it shifts the tax burden onto fewer people.  Who must pay more in taxes than is their fair share.  And that worked for awhile until government grew so large.  But as our aging population has increased the costs of Medicare and Social Security (and soon Obamacare) there just aren’t enough rich people to tax to pay these soaring costs.  And they will have no choice but to shift the tax revenue graph to lower income people.  So they can capture more people (and incomes) under this graph.  Yes, they want to tax the rich more.  But only for the symbolism.  For once they’ve punished them by forcing them to pay their ‘fair’ share then they can raise tax rates on everyone else.  Which is the only way they have a snowball’s chance in hell of achieving real deficit reduction.  Increasing taxes on the middle class.  Well, that, or cutting spending.  Which could provide serious deficit reduction.  By shrinking the size of government. The very cause of those massive deficits.  And accumulated debt.  But shrinking government is, of course, crazy talk for those on the Left.  Who would rather let the country sink into insolvency before agreeing to that.

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