NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

A Dose of Reality Concerning Taxes

January 22, 2002

Simply mention the words "tax policy" and liberal politicians fly into their "Rich People Should Pay Their Fair Share" lecture. But the latest data from the Internal Revenue Service demonstrate that the wealthy are bearing an increasingly disproportionate share of the tax burden.

Here are just a few of the facts, based on 1999 data, verifying that contention:

  • The top 1 percent of U.S. earners accounted for 19.5 percent of all adjusted gross income reported to the IRS -- but paid 36.2 percent of all federal income taxes.
  • The top 50 percent of earners took in 86.8 percent of adjusted gross income -- but accounted for 96 percent of personal income taxes paid.
  • The bottom 50 percent earners, on the other hand, accounted for 13.2 percent of personal income -- while contributing only 4 percent of all personal income taxes.

Moreover, it doesn't take a fabulous income for Americans to land in the upper reaches of the tax brackets:

  • All one had to earn to qualify among the top 25 percent of filers in 1999 was a modest $52,965.
  • Persons in that heady income class paid 83.5 percent of all taxes.
  • To be among the top 50 percent, a person had to earn only $26,415 a year.

The 27 percent marginal tax rate kicks in for single taxpayers at only $27,050 of income.

Source: Editorial, "A Rich Tax Debate," Wall Street Journal, January 22, 2002.

For text (WSJ subscribers)


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