NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Class Warfare?

September 26, 2011

President Obama tried to blunt anticipated criticism of his remarks in his White House speech last Monday that proposed to raise taxes on millionaires and billionaires with a parenthetical: "This is not class warfare.  It's math."  But the actual math tells a very different story, says David Freddoso of the Washington Examiner.

  • In 2009, about 237,000 individual income tax filers reported adjusted gross income of $1 million or more.
  • Taken together, these filers -- families and small businesses -- made a grand total of $722 billion, and paid $178 billion of that in income taxes.
  • Their effective federal income tax rate was 24.6 percent, between three and four times the effective rate on middle-income families that pull in $50,000 to $75,000 per year.
  • This million-plus crowd -- who comprise less than 0.2 percent of all taxpayers -- made 10.6 percent of all income in 2009 and paid 20.5 percent of all individual income taxes.

To be sure, the wealthy can and should pay more in taxes than the poor.  The point here is that they already do pay more -- a lot more.  So when we discuss tax increases on the wealthy, we aren't really talking about whether we should be letting "millionaires and billionaires" slide on their obligations to society.  We are really talking about how disproportionately large their share of the tax burden has to become before liberals finally decide it is "fair," says Freddoso.

Source: David Freddoso, "Math Says Obama's Speech Was Class Warfare," Washington Examiner, September 21, 2011.


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