NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Who's Rich?

February 12, 2001

Whether people recognize it or not, we are increasingly dependent on a single group -- the one that pays most of the taxes that run the government. That group is the rich.

But what do we mean by "rich"? When politicians refer to the rich if the question of a tax cut comes up, they mean anyone with an income of more than $50,607 a year. According to the Tax Foundation:

  • The top 25 percent of all income earners in 1998 were those with incomes above $50,607.
  • They paid 82.7 percent of all federal income taxes.
  • The remaining 75 percent of earners picked up 17.3 percent of the bill for running the country.
  • In 1987, the top 25 percent paid 76.9 percent of all income taxes, so our dependence on the rich is increasing.

And it doesn't take much to be rich. According to Tax Foundation researcher Scott Hodge, an average-pay-level kindergarten teacher who is married to an entry-level firefighter would be "rich." According to the Census Bureau, about 51 percent of all families with children have two earners, and half of them have incomes over $50,600.

Those "rich" people would benefit from a tax cut, and so would the economy.

Source: Scott Burns, "Cut Taxes For Those Who Pay," Dallas Morning News, February 11, 2001.


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