Do the Rich Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes?

August 15, 2012

The central theme of President Obama's tax policy has been that "the rich" do not pay their fair share of federal taxes, and the middle class pays more as a result.  But a report issued by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) in July 2012 shows this to be false, says Peter Ferrara, a senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis.

  • According to the CBO, the top 1 percent of income earners paid 39 percent of federal individual income taxes in 2009, while earning 13 percent of the income.
  • That is down from 2007, before President Obama was elected.
  • In 2007, after 25 years of Reagan Republican tax policies, the top 1 percent paid 40 percent of federal individual income taxes -- more than double the 17.6 percent share of taxes paid by the top 1 percent when President Reagan entered office in 1981.

The CBO also reports that:

  • In 2009, the bottom 40 percent of income earners were paid cash equal to 10 percent of federal individual income taxes by the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), net of any federal income taxes they paid.
  • In that same year, the middle 20 percent of income earners -- the true middle class -- paid a net 2.7 percent of total federal individual income taxes, while earning 15 percent of before-tax income.
  • And the top 20 percent of income earners -- those earning more than $74,000 -- paid 94 percent of federal individual income taxes, 85 percent more than the share of national income they earned.

Even counting payroll taxes in addition to other federal taxes, the story is the same.  The "rich" and upper income workers still pay almost all federal taxes, with the middle class and lower income workers paying far lower proportions and rates.

Indeed, in 2009, according to the CBO:

  • The middle 20 percent of income earners paid just 9 percent of federal taxes, less than two-thirds their share of income.
  • By contrast, the top 1 percent alone paid over 22 percent of all federal taxes, while earning 13 percent of the income.
  • And the top 20 percent of earners paid nearly 70 percent of all federal taxes, while earning 50 percent of the income.

Source: Peter Ferrara, "Do the Rich Pay Their Fair Share in Taxes?" National Center for Policy Analysis, August 15, 2012.

 

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