At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal…
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Quote of the Day: Taxpayer Privacy and IRS Abuse

At CFIF, the issue of improving taxpayer privacy and protection against persistent abuse by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) remains among our most important missions.  Among the abuses that we've chronicled is the case of convicted criminal Charles Littlejohn, who rejoined the IRS in 2017 with the specific purpose of illegally breaching and leaking the private tax returns of Donald Trump and other Americans to radical left-wing organizations like ProPublica.

In The Wall Street Journal this week, one of those victims speaks out on his own experience and the need for greater taxpayer protection against this recurring problem that should terrify all Americans of every political persuasion.  Ira Stoll, whose tax information was passed to ProPublica, even helpfully details how…[more]

May 29, 2024 • 11:28 AM

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IRS Data: Wealthier Americans Actually Pay More Than Their "Fair Share" Print
By Timothy H. Lee
Thursday, March 10 2016
The top 25% earned 68.10% of the nation's income, but paid 86.27% of the nation's income taxes.

Do you or anyone you know insist that wealthier Americans should pay their "fair share" of the nation's taxes? 

If so, then there's good news:  They already do.  In fact, according to Internal Revenue Service (IRS) data, they pay far more than their fair share. 

The IRS recently released its annual summary of tax data for the calendar year 2013, and it contains a wealth of surprising correctives for Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, mainstream media pundits and the political left more generally. 

Specifically, those in upper income brackets pay a far higher portion of the nation's income taxes than their portion of income earned.  Additionally, it's flatly false that wealthier Americans pay lower income tax rates than middle-income or lower-income Americans.  That may not interrupt the tired slogans trotted out by Warren Buffett or the aforementioned groups about "CEOs who pay a lower tax rate than their secretaries," but their rhetoric simply doesn't accord with reality. 

So let's examine the data. 

For 2013, Americans in the top 1% income bracket earned 19.04% of the nation's income. 

So what would be their "fair share" of the nation's income taxes, that same 19.04%?  Perhaps a little bit more, perhaps 25% or even 30%, since they can handle the extra burden? 

Well, it turns out that the top 1% paid fully 37.8% of the nation's income taxes, or approximately twice their share of the nation's income.  In what moral universe does paying twice as much of a nation's income taxes than one earns of that nation's income not constitute a "fair share?" 

As the IRS numbers make clear, those occupying other upper income brackets also pay a disproportionately high share of the nation's income taxes. 

Those in the top 5% bracket earned 34.42% of the nation's total adjusted gross income (AGI), but they paid 58.55% of the nation's income taxes.  So their portion of taxes paid is also nearly twice as high as their portion of income earned.  The top 10% of Americans earned 45.87% of the nation's income, but paid fully 69.80% of the nation's income taxes.  The top 25% earned 68.10% of the nation's income, but paid 86.27% of the nation's income taxes.  And those in the top 50% income bracket earned 88.51% of the nation's income, but paid 97.22% of the nation's income taxes. 

And what about the bottom 50% of American income earners?  Well, they earned 11.49% of the nation's income, but paid just 2.78% of the nation's income taxes.  Those in approximately the bottom 45% paid none at all. 

So what about the fallback claim among leftists and others who advocate higher income taxes (at least in word, if not in deed) that wealthier Americans exploit loopholes in the tax code to escape their "fair share" and end up paying lower effective tax rates than those in lower income brackets? 

That is also a myth. 

Those in the top 1% income bracket paid an average tax rate of 27.08% in 2013, nearly one-third of their income.  Americans in the top 5% paid an average tax rate of 23.2%, the top 10% paid a 20.75% average rate, the top 25% paid 17.28% and those among the top 50% income bracket paid 14.98%. 

And the bottom 50%, the proverbial "Warren Buffett's secretary" according to the rhetoric of Obama and the political left?  Their average income tax rate for 2013 was 3.30%. 

Speaking of income tax myths, what about the claim that those in upper income levels have benefited in recent decades at the expense of lower income earners, particularly under the Reagan and Bush administrations? 

That is also demonstrably false. 

In 1980, the top 1% paid 19.05% of the nation's income taxes.  By 1989, the top 1% paid 25.24% of all income taxes in America, in 2000 they paid 37.42% and by 2009 they paid 36.34%.  And as mentioned above, today the top 1% pays 37.80% of the nation's income taxes.  The top 5% paid 36.84% of income taxes in 1980, but 43.94% in 1989, 56.47% in 2000, 58.17% in 2009 and 58.55% today.  The top 10% paid a 49.28% portion of America's income taxes in 1980, 55.78% in 1989, 67.33% in , 69.89% in 2009 and 69.80% today.  The top 25%?  They paid 73.02% of income taxes in 1980, 77.22% in 1989, 84.01% in 2000, 86.74% in 2009 and 86.27% today. 

Accordingly, the share of America's income taxes paid by wealthier Americans substantially increased under both President Reagan and President Bush. 

Finally, what about the assumption that the starkly disproportionate share of income taxes paid by Americans in higher income brackets doesn't matter because that's someone else?  The truth is that most Americans at some point in their lives occupy the highest brackets, as economist Thomas Sowell recently illustrated: 

"Here is a trick question:  What percentage of American households have incomes in the top 10 percent?  Answer:  51 percent of American households are in the top 10 percent at some point in the course of a lifetime - usually in their older years.  Those who want us to envy and resent the top 10 percent are urging half of us to envy and resent ourselves." 

Regardless, it's simply not true that wealthier Americans don't pay their "fair share."  Their share of income taxes paid dwarfs their share of income earned. 

Something to remember when the "progressive" left repeats their easy class warfare slogans. 

Notable Quote   
 
"Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says Democrats have tipped their hand to their desire to unleash noncitizen voting by opposing his state's citizenship verification in court and he is urging elections chiefs in other states to fight such lawsuits.Georgia's citizenship verification system has prevented noncitizens from getting on state voter rolls, but the state had to defend it in court…[more]
 
 
— Natalia Mittelstadt, Just the News
 
Liberty Poll   

Which would be the most useful for voters: a televised presidential debate that only includes Trump and Biden or one that adds Kennedy?