The Corner

Why Democrats Should Support the Extension of the Bush-Era Tax Rates

Democrats always complain that the rich aren’t paying their fair share of taxes. Obviously, the complain misses the fact that the top ten percent pays 70 percent of the income tax collected. But I have more good news for them. They can drop their grumpy attitudes toward the extension of the Bush-era tax rates and embrace it with joy. The attitude switch won’t be so hard once they actually look at the data, since it shows that the main impact the rate reduction had in the first place was to make the rich pay an even bigger share of taxes that they paid before.

Look at these tables from the Tax Foundation. They provide some very good data about taxes paid by income levels, including the percent of federal income tax paid by each income group.

Table 6 in particular is interesting. In 2001, the top 1 percent of income earners paid 33.89 percent of all income taxes collected. In 2008, they paid 38.02 percent, down from the 2007 level of over 40 percent. The top 50 percent of filers saw their share of tax collection increase from 96.03 percent in 2001 to 97.3 percent in 2008. The bottom 50 percent of filers saw their share of the income tax burden fall from 3.91 percent to 2.7 percent.

Veronique de Rugy is a senior research fellow at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University.

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