Who Pays the Taxes

The Congressional Budget Office has analyzed tax data for the year 2007; once again, the bottom line is that upper-income taxpayers pay much more than their fair share. This graph shows the percentage of household income paid in federal taxes (payroll, income, etc.) by each income quintile; click to enlarge:
That extreme progressivity comes mostly from the income tax, of course. This graph shows what percentage of household income is paid by each income quintile in each form of federal taxation. The blue line represents personal income taxes. The extreme progressivity of that tax is obvious:
This one shows the total of all federal taxes paid by each quintile, compared to income. Note how upper-income taxpayers subsidize all other groups:
One can argue about whether this sort of progressivity is immoral, but it is certainly bad public policy. As we noted here, the U.S. has the most progressive federal tax system of any developed country. Now President Obama tells us that he intends to get serious about the federal deficit. I don’t suppose anyone takes that pledge too seriously, but to the extent the Democrats propose any deficit-reduction measures, they will no doubt consist of higher taxes on those who are already over-taxed.

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