April 13, 2016

High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?

Corporations paying fewer taxes

Tax-deadline season isn’t many people’s favorite time of the year, but most Americans are OK with the amount of tax they pay. It’s what other people pay, or don’t pay, that bothers them.

Just over half (54%) of Americans surveyed in fall by Pew Research Center said they pay about the right amount in taxes considering what they get from the federal government, versus 40% who said they pay more than their fair share. But in a separate 2015 survey by the Center, some six-in-ten Americans said they were bothered a lot by the feeling that “some wealthy people” and “some corporations” don’t pay their fair share.

It’s true that corporations are funding a smaller share of overall government operations than they used to. In fiscal 2015, the federal government collected $343.8 billion from corporate income taxes, or 10.6% of its total revenue. Back in the 1950s, corporate income tax generated between a quarter and a third of federal revenues (though payroll taxes have grown considerably over that period).

Nor have corporate tax receipts kept pace with the overall growth of the U.S. economy. Inflation-adjusted gross domestic product has risen 153% since 1980, while inflation-adjusted corporate tax receipts were 115% higher in fiscal 2015 than in fiscal 1980, according to the Bureau of Economic Analysis. There have been a lot of ups and downs over that period, as corporate tax receipts tend to rise during expansions and drop off in recessions. In fiscal 2007, for instance, corporate taxes hit $370.2 billion (in current dollars), only to plunge to $138.2 billion in 2009 as businesses felt the impact of the Great Recession.

Corporations also employ battalions of tax lawyers to find ways to reduce their tax bills, from running income through subsidiaries in low-tax foreign countries to moving overseas entirely, in what’s known as a corporate inversion (a practice the Treasury Department has moved to discourage).

But in Tax Land, the line between corporations and people can be fuzzy. While most major corporations (“C corporations” in tax lingo) pay according to the corporate tax laws, many other kinds of businesses – sole proprietorships, partnerships and closely held “S corporations” – fall under the individual income tax code, because their profits and losses are passed through to individuals. And by design, wealthier Americans pay most of the nation’s total individual income taxes.

Wealthy pay more in taxes than poorIn 2014, people with adjusted gross income, or AGI, above $250,000 paid just over half (51.6%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.7% of all returns filed, according to our analysis of preliminary IRS data. Their average tax rate (total taxes paid divided by cumulative AGI) was 25.7%. By contrast, people with incomes of less than $50,000 accounted for 62.3% of all individual returns filed, but they paid just 5.7% of total taxes. Their average tax rate was 4.3%.

The relative tax burdens borne by different income groups changes over time, due both to economic conditions and the constantly shifting provisions of tax law. For example, using more comprehensive IRS data covering tax years 2000 through 2011, we found that people who made between $100,000 and $200,000 paid 23.8% of the total tax liability in 2011, up from 18.8% in 2000. Filers in the $50,000-to-$75,000 group, on the other hand, paid 12% of the total liability in 2000 but only 9.1% in 2011. (The tax liability figures include a few taxes, such as self-employment tax and the “nanny tax,” that people typically pay along with their income taxes.)

All told, individual income taxes accounted for a little less than half (47.4%) of government revenue, a share that’s been roughly constant since World War II. The federal government collected $1.54 trillion from individual income taxes in fiscal 2015, making it the national government’s single-biggest revenue source. (Other sources of federal revenue include corporate income taxes, the payroll taxes that fund Social Security and Medicare, excise taxes such as those on gasoline and cigarettes, estate taxes, customs duties and payments from the Federal Reserve.) Until the 1940s, when the income tax was expanded to help fund the war effort, generally only the very wealthy paid it.

Since the 1970s, the segment of federal revenues that has grown the most is the payroll tax – those line items on your pay stub that go to pay for Social Security and Medicare. For most people, in fact, payroll taxes take a bigger bite out of their paycheck than federal income tax. Why? The 6.2% Social Security withholding tax only applies to wages up to $118,500. For example, a worker earning $40,000 will pay $2,480 (6.2%) in Social Security tax, but an executive earning $400,000 will pay $7,347 (6.2% of $118,500), for an effective rate of just 1.8%. By contrast, the 1.45% Medicare tax has no upper limit, and in fact high earners pay an extra 0.9%.

All but the top-earning 20% of American families pay more in payroll taxes than in federal income taxes, according to a Treasury Department analysis.

Still, that analysis confirms that, after all federal taxes are factored in, the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive. The top 0.1% of families pay the equivalent of 39.2% and the bottom 20% have negative tax rates (that is, they get more money back from the government in the form of refundable tax credits than they pay in taxes).

Of course, people can and will differ on whether any of this constitutes a “fair” tax system. Depending on their politics and personal situations, some would argue for a more steeply progressive structure, others for a flatter one. Finding the right balance can be challenging to the point of impossibility: As Jean-Baptiste Colbert, Louis XIV’s finance minister, is said to have remarked: “The art of taxation consists in so plucking the goose as to obtain the largest possible amount of feathers with the smallest possible amount of hissing.”

Note: This is an update of an earlier post published March 24, 2015.

Topics: Economic Policy, Economics and Personal Finances, Taxes

  1. Photo of Drew DeSilver

    is a senior writer at Pew Research Center.

202 responses to “High-income Americans pay most income taxes, but enough to be ‘fair’?”

  1. Progressive taxation is, by definition, Socialist wealth redistribution.

    SS/Medicare are NOT taxes, but contributions for one’s own pension and retiree medical insurance. To require some to pay for those benefits of others is yet MORE wealth redistribution.

    • Brian Martens says:

      SS and Medicare are pay as you go systems. Current receipts from younger generations pay the collecting generation. There is no government savings account that your SS goes into and holds onto until you retire.

    • Your point is severely undercut by your presumption that ‘socialist’ bears some negative connotation.

      Wealth redistribution is in essence mandatory, because its been working the opposite way for 5 decades. Middle class wage stagnation for the past 50 years as scaled versus other economic indexes is bad for everyone involved, from the top 1% to the bottom 20%.

      A man’s obligation to his fellows does not become erased just because one is adept at making money.

      • GG says:

        There is a negative connotation to Socialism. It’s takes from one who did earn it and gives to those who did not earn it, that’s also called theft. It has never worked and is only one step away from Communism, which does not allow the freedom of thought or growth. Why should I continue to work hard or invent if I cannot reap the fruits of my labor? I don’t owe you anything, I owe my family not you. Taking care of others needs to come from within, not because the government requires one to do so. In my career, stupid people keep me in business, but because of their stupid acts doesn’t mean it’s my responsibility to continue to feed them, if they would have thought their act through and realized, “hey dumb ass, that’s not a good idea” they wouldn’t be in that situation. Empathy, not sympathy.

    • Ryan Hoffer says:

      Nothing wrong with a little socialism. The problem is rampant out of control socialism. Nothing wrong with a little capitalism. The problem is rampant our of control capitalism. A mix of both is perfect.

      • Tom M. says:

        Agree, hence our mixed economy.

      • The problem with just a little bit of Socialism is that it always leads to a LOT of Socialism. The issue that our Founders try to instill is DISCIPLINE – you would not take just a little Cocaine.

        • James B. says:

          Honestly, its just un-American. If you want a “little socialism” go back to Europe and enjoy. Its worked out beautifully for them…

          Its simply a question of motivation, if you remove the incentive to add value in a society by redistributing that value, your economy will eventually suffer.

          In the short run you will see increases in the economy, but these are false, as they are a result of the re-distribution, not an increase in value creation.

          Our capitalism might seem a bit cut throat, but unless you maintain that requirement to participate, then you incite laziness into the game. Its starts with a few simple laws, and suddenly you end up with a 35 hour work week and high unemployment, and a society content to live off of the fruits of those 5 %.

          Your solution might just be a higher inflation and low interest, this would naturally remove the advantage of capital preservation and incite continuos investment, as that would be the only way to preserve the value of the capital in relative terms.

          • mark desmond says:

            Un-American? We stole this country from Indians, we brutally murdered them for it and want to act like this is a country founded on freedom. The very least we can do is to work with our fellow countryman and work on ideas that will make this a better country.
            Just because we need wealth distribution does not necessarily mean you remove all incentive or motivation to add value to society. Some people have pride, dignity, and character and would gladly continue to strive for a better society whether there was any compensation at all. It’s always about money, stop being so greedy, no one needs that much money.
            A 35 hour work week sounds wonderful, I want to work to live not live to work, especially to make someone else rich. There are more important things that money can’t buy but you probably won’t realize that until it’s too late.
            Incite laziness? You just expect the worst from everyone don’t you? If you have faith in people, they might surprise you.

  2. Aaron Cavanaugh says:

    Hi, Thanks for writing this article. If 2.4% make 5 trillion and are contributing 470mil of 1bil taxes. Then that means they as a percentage of wealth they aren’t paying much.
    I just made up the 5 tril and 1tril to show that we should take on wealth not income. Tax capital gains to be fair
    Thanks. God bless. Aaron

    • Mike says:

      Aaron, why tax wealth? This doesn’t make sense. If you’ve earned money, and payed taxes at the time you were earning it, why should the government tax you again?

      As for capital gain tax, capital gains are already based on the increased value of the company *after the company has payed taxes*. If a company earns $1million, but then pays taxes and has say $750k left, than that is all that contributes to the capital return. Why should that be taxed again? Is it a perception issue to you since the company is paying the taxes and not the individual? Are you suggesting more taxes just for the sake of perception?

      • Brett says:

        No he’s saying individuals should pay more on their personal sale of assets, such as securities, because they are taxed at a lower rate. What you referenced are not capital gains but are earnings net of tax. Don’t know how you got bash

      • Tom M. says:

        Taxing income on wealth isn’t taxing wealth. It’s Income. On. Wealth. You’re just attempting to middy the water by claiming that it’s taxing wealth.

        If you are claiming that even income on capital wealth shouldn’t be taxed, now we’re really into uncharted waters. Take the Koch brothers empire, for example. If their productive capital wealth is, say, $90 billion, and they earn a 10% return on capital, or $9 billion, are you arguing that their $9 billion in income should be tax-free to them? Why? Because they’ve reached some sort of imaginary finish line so their obligation to the country is through?

    • mark Shemwell says:

      Wouldn’t it make more sense to move to a consumption-based tax system? Computation of taxes costs $250B/yr (much of which going to companies like H&R block, which prey on the poor with astronomic fees for computation of simple taxes) and the current 400,000+ lines of tax code leave monstrous loopholes for the wealthy to navigate through in order to reduce their taxes. If we tax based on consumption, lobbying for favorable tax laws goes away, thus politicians are less in the pocket of the business and (hopefully) eventually their loyalties will return to the constituency rather than the funders of their campaigns. By simply tossing a prebate on to eliminate taxes on necessities, you alleviate the poor of the obligation to pay taxes on food, shelter and other necessities. You tax at consumption, so the taxpayer is fully aware of what he or she is paying in taxes (rather than taxes being passed down to final consumer as a product travels from raw material to final production and consumption, taxes in tow). A flat tax rate with zero loopholes is transparent, and ensures each is paying his “fair” share of the national taxes based on income. Just a personal opinion.

    • Aaron Cavanaugh says:

      Hi, The other two types of tax are land and sales. We allow wealthy to land bank their money. Sales tax is the other tax. Without looking at all four taxes and then adding up all money they accrued we are not accurately counting how much tax a person is paying. Thanks. God Bless. Aaron

  3. J Walker says:

    In an objective world… if taxes, business C or S or individual, were based solely on national resource profit and loss ratios what would our tax code look like?

  4. Jeremiah G says:

    Your handy chart has % of returns and % of income tax paid, but what about a % of total income? The 250k group is only 2.4% of returns, but I would bet their % of total income is closer to the 48.9% tax paid.

    If everyone made around the same amount, the % of returns number would make sense. But since taxes go up the more you make, of course the 250k group will pay more in taxes. They made more.

    • Gary R says:

      If you follow the link in the third-to-last paragraph of the article, “Treasury Department analysis,” you’ll find the data you’re looking for. Mr. DeSilver discusses it only briefly in the second-to-last paragraph, where he points out that the top 0.1% of earners pay total Federal taxes of 37.9% of income. This is total Federal taxes, which is more than just income tax, but the Treasury Department data shows the rates for just the income tax, too.

  5. erik says:

    I would like to see the percent of tax paid vs. percent of income made rather than percent of the population, i’m guessing while the rich paid nearly 50% of tax they made more than 50% of the income.

  6. Don R says:

    Why would you not compare % of income tax paid against % of Taxable income or even adjusted gross income?
    A comparison to number of returns seems kind of pointless.

    • Mort says:

      This is what your second chart should have shown and what people in the comments are asking about:

    • Jacob H says:

      It is in the text of the article. I’ll even do a little extra math for you.

      People at $250,000 and over paid 48.9% of the total income tax (1.4T) at a rate of 25.6%. This would mean they paid $685 billion in taxes on $2.674 trillion of income.

      People at $50,000 or below paid 6.2% of the total at a rate of 4.2%. This would mean they paid $87 billion on $2.071 trillion of income.

  7. Fred Walker says:

    First realize, there is no “fair tax” because, NOTHING the Government supplies is free! I would ask everyone to read the U.S. Constitution, pay special attention to the 16th Amendment.

    Amendment 16 – Status of Income Tax Clarified. Ratified 2/3/1913.
    The Congress shall have power to lay and collect taxes on incomes, from whatever
    source derived, without apportionment among the several States, and without regard to any census or enumeration.

    You will notice Government can take every dollar you earn as “incomes” with out restriction!
    Currently Congress can take every dollar you earn as and not require your neighbour / fellow Citizen to pay any tax! The thought that any tax could be fair was eliminated by the 16th Amendment!

    The question should be; Is the tax equal? Taxes pay for Government Services. These Services should be available to every Citizen equally! For this reason every Citizen is responsible for paying for these Government Services equally. The real question should be; why are taxes unequal for some Citizens? The Income Tax has resulted in unequally in taxation and representation.

    Some think a “flat tax” is a solution. This is far from the truth. Our current Federal Income Tax started as a “flat tax” in 1913! You currently experience the results of that change. See for yourself at; http://www.treasurydirect.gov/govt/reports/pd/histdebt/histdebt.htm
    Correcting the failed Tax System will require repealing the 16th Amendment! HR:25 is the only Tax related Bill before Congress that calls for repeal of the 16th Amendment.

    Because of the changes made possible by the 16th Amendment Our U.S. Congress is operated like a house of prostitution, Our representation is sold by the unethical to the well connected. Many so called Representatives and Senators and their Political Parties are willing to promote and sell special tax exemptions and favors for personal profit and power!

    There is a solution that solution is the Convention of States Project. Using Article 5 of the U.S. Constitution the States can call for a Constitutional Convention without Federal involvement or approval. This is one of the greatest protections the Founders left the Citizenry. They knew the Federal Government if allowed would seek to become all powerful at the expense of individual & States Rights. The Convention of States Project is using the Article 5 process to file identical application Petitions with the State legislatures. This Petition has been developed to call for a Convention of States for the expressed purpose of developing Amendments that will restrict the power of the Federal Government. When 34 State Legislatures pass this Application the Convention can be called. This will result in many solutions. I hope the first will be to repeal the 16th Amendment. Second would be to require a balanced Federal Budget. We could also see Amendments restricting the terms of Federal Representatives, Justices etc. Any idea or proposal restricting the Federal Governments powers would be germane for decision. Use of Article 5 requires any proposed Amendment coming out of this Convention go to the States for Citizen ratification. If ratified by a majority of the Citizens in 38 States the Amendment or Amendments would be added to the U.S. Constitution.

    If you are seeking real solutions to unequal taxation and would like to help I would suggest you learn more at http://www.conventionofstates.com or http://www.cosaction.com/?recruiter_id=97567

  8. Joel says:

    It’s not fair for an individual or a business to pay nearly half their income in taxes- It’s a Rape of Liberty & Constitutional principle of private property- All other freedoms stem from this one Right. It’s time to get Back to liberty principles Outlined in The Constituition & LET people Prosper & pursue their own happiness without the government breathing down their necks

  9. Realist says:

    I take your point, but the issue of perceived income tax burden lives predominantly in that top 0.1% of the wealthiest individuals whose income from being the ceo of Google is $1.00, yet they are compensated with stocks, options, and other financial instruments that don’t subject them to the 40% top rate. I make decent money, and I don’t mind paying my taxes, but it’s infuriating to read about the ultra-wealthy that seem to be able to escape it because they can afford the infrastructure to do so. This is a violation of the social contract, and while perfectly legal, is scummy as all hell.

    • Mark Shemwell says:

      social contract? I’ve never signed anything binding me to another’s beliefs. Social contract is a term coined to try to sway others to a singular point of view – but it’s impossible. We all have different views and considerations of ethics and morals. Presumably, my part of this social contract is to be cool with my taxes going to support someone else. I’m sorry, but I fundamentally disagree with this, and I disagree with your assertion that I’m bound by a social contract that neither bears my signature nor is in any way, shape, or form tangible.

    • C. Brown says:

      They can afford the “infrastructure to do so.” Perfectly said!

  10. Raymond J ST.Onge says:

    Dear Mr. DeSilver

    After working in a factory (of one sort or another) for 33 yrs. and as a small
    business owner for the last 5 yrs. It is my opinion that these compiling these stats
    is an exercise in futility (tilting at windmills). If the purpose is to figure a fairer tax
    code. I (with my limited experience in business) believe that the only fair tax would
    be no tax. As it is my opinion that no business, weather big or small actually pay
    taxes; their customers do, in the form of the price that they pay for a product or
    service. If you increase the amount that the business pays in taxes, the business
    considers this as a cost of doing business and raises
    the price of the product or service to their customer. This goes on until the
    business can no longer
    offer the product or service at a price that the customer is
    willing to pay, at witch time the business must cut the cost of providing the
    product or service; or go out of business. Only the larger businesses can afford
    to move their business to to a more favorable business climate. Even with a flat,
    sales, or any other form of tax system; I feel that you are only delaying the
    eventual outcome.

    Please tell me where I am going wrong with my assumptions.

    Respectfully yours

  11. Chloe says:

    Your point is severely undercut by your presumption that there exists any obligation to one’s fellow men.

  12. Todd says:


    Top 10 percent of income earners paid 68 percent of the taxes and made 45% of the income

    • Anthony says:

      SS taxes
      Medicare taxes
      Property taxes
      Excise Taxes
      Gas Taxes
      Sales Taxes
      Sin taxes
      State taxes

      Then you will have a horse of a different color. Who benefits from national defense overwhelming the Rich, as they have something to loss. Who benefits from illegal immigration, overwhelming the Rich.

      America has the greatest income inequality in the developed world, and its just getting worse.

  13. PK in SC says:

    The idea that corporations or any business providing goods and services actually pays income taxes, payroll taxes or even sales taxes is 99% a liberal fantasy.
    There are some unusual situations where the competitors of a business are not subject to the same income tax (like questionable tax exempt groups, etc.), and they have to eat a tax increase. That’s the rare exception.
    Otherwise, the taxes are a cost of doing business and like all such expenses, are figured in when setting prices. So, who actually pays the tax? You, the consumer pays all the taxes, of course.
    Only liberal idiots would suggest you can tax the income of a corporation or any other business. When sales taxes are collected you see that you are paying those as they are added on at the end of the transaction. The business is merely acting as the collection agent for the government. However, you are also paying their income taxes; they are just not shown on the receipt, they are built into the price you pay.
    We need an industrial base in the U.S. That should be obvious to even the most oblivious buffoons in government. One way to promote that is to create a welcoming climate to the right enterprises with simple and low taxes. That creates direct jobs here as well as all the ancillary activities required to support the business. You collect income, payroll, and etc. taxes and provide employment. Is that rocket science? I learned that in high school.

  14. PK in SC says:

    The idea that corporations or any business providing goods and services actually pays income taxes, payroll taxes or even sales taxes is 99% a liberal fantasy.
    There are some unusual situations where the competitors of a business are not subject to the same income tax (like questionable tax exempt groups, etc.), and they have to eat a tax increase. That’s the rare exception.
    Otherwise, the taxes are a cost of doing business and like all such expenses, are figured in when setting prices. So, who actually pays the tax? You, the consumer pays all the taxes, of course.
    Only liberals would suggest you can tax the income of a corporation or any other business. When sales taxes are collected you see that you are paying those as they are added on at the end of the transaction. The business is merely acting as the collection agent for the government. However, you are also paying their income taxes; they are just not shown on the receipt, they are built into the price you pay.
    We need an industrial base in the U.S. That should be obvious to even the most oblivious in government. One way to promote that is to create a welcoming climate to the right enterprises with simple and low taxes. That creates direct jobs here as well as all the ancillary activities required to support the business. You collect income, payroll, and etc. taxes and provide employment. Is that rocket science? I learned that in high school.

    • Syntara says:

      So, in other words, encourage foreign companies to off-shore their jobs here, while we off-shore American jobs elsewhere? Perhaps to the very countries those other companies are based in?

  15. Art Clough says:

    Who makes the determination what is fair. People making $250,000 still have bills to pay and children to send to school. In fact, those with less income are more likely to get help sending their children to school. Until there is a flat tax none of it will be fair. Until then stop comparing apples to oranges.

  16. Fred says:

    Really good example of a bad attempt at statistical analysis. Some of the issues:

    1) The regressive payroll (SSI/Medicare) tax wasn’t included.
    2) The stats in this article use adjusted gross income, which excludes big deductions like deferred compensation, 401(k) contributions, and non-qualified stock options. if you check out the W-2 stats on the IRS web site, you’ll see (at least for 2010) that tax sheltered non-qualified stock plans for the top 1% of income amounted to 3.5x
    3) The plot of income tax paid vs income is meaningless, because it is dependent on the product of the number of tax payers in each income category and the amount of tax they payed. Tax rates would work much better.

  17. Fran Johns says:

    “…..people with adjusted gross incomes above $250,000 paid nearly half (48.9%) of all individual income taxes, though they accounted for only 2.4% of all returns filed.”

    A more enlightening statistic would be what percent of US INCOME they account for, not what percent of returns filed.

    • Rob says:

      They earn about 20-25% of the income earned by all tax payers. In other words, on a percentage basis, they pay about twice as much of the tax burden as their share of the income pie would indicate. This 2:1 ratio has held relatively steady over time, which leads to the ever-present-but-never-answered question, “What is one’s ‘fair’ share of taxes?”

  18. Mke Favetti says:

    Perhaps the question should be is “it fair that nearly half of America pays little or no income taxes.” Yet they have the same benefits as do those who pay taxes, in my view, that is grossly unfair because they vote for programs which tax me but not them!

    • Gary says:

      Hang on to your hat as not only do they not pay but they feel that you should pay more. The survey points out that many feel the “rich” (obviously not them) should pay more. Until the majority of people are convinced that higher taxes [on others] will impact them through less jobs, lower income, less benefits from their employer, nothing with change.

    • Syntara says:

      Since corporations insist on being “people too,” why don’t they simply pay personal income taxes? Seems to me that would solve a bit of the problem and, politicians could claim, did not “raise taxes,” so much as it simply placed all “people” in the same category — i.e., all “people” pay personal income taxes on income earned. Since corporations are people, and since they earn income like the people they claim they are, then they should simply pay personal income taxes.

      I recently read that for an individual earning about $50,000 a year in America, some $6,000 of their annual tax bill due goes to support corporations, while some $340 goes to help cover food stamps for the less fortunate. So, when we complain about people receiving some form of “government welfare,” I feel we have been socially engineered by the powers that be to focus on the small amount we do provide to help support programs for individuals, while the powers that be remain absolutely silent about the huge amount of our yearly tax debt that goes to support corporations.

      We hear about how, as individuals…as people…we should “pull ourselves up by our own bootstraps.” Shouldn’t that apply to ALL people? I mean, if corporations insist on being people, they should be told the same thing: no help for you…pull yourself up or go the way of the dinosaur. It might just encourage corporations to STOP seeing the federal revenue taken in as some kind of personal cash cow or entity that will “always be there” if these corporations fail, as that is what all “real” people are being told, aren’t they? “Do it on your own…don’t look to the government for help,” should be applied to corporations as much as to citizens to wake them up and cause them to stop feeling they have more of, and for some reason are more deserving of, a safety net than are American citizens.

      Funny, but when it comes to helping corporate America, as well as other nations, the federal billfold seems to know no bottom. Simultaneously, should states with disasters, or individual citizens cry for assistance, the federal budget deficit is ALWAYS invoked as the reason there is no money to help them.

      As far as I’m concerned, corporations have gotten used to some federal gravy train, while endeavoring to deny the same to the rest of us…the REAL American PEOPLE.

    • Syntara says:

      Unfortunately, many people think that those receiving Social Security benefits do not pay taxes. Let me assure, you, I pay income taxes on the Social Security benefits I receive just as if I was earning any other kind of income.

  19. Howard says:

    What is sad is how little so many filers earn.

  20. Simone Andrus says:

    We know that in actual dollars those with higher incomes pay more than those with lower incomes. However fairness should be measured by what percentage of their income goes to income taxes. Additionally, with regressive sales taxes, addi fees and services moving from federal levels to state and to local levels. Poor and middle class Americans pay a much higher percentage of their total income than the wealthy.

  21. Interesting article. It doesn’t address the plight of our senior citizens, however. Those of us who lived within our means and saved for our “Golden Years”. Now instead of an average of 4% for savings in a bank, we get point zero 1% (.01%). Do the math! The average husband and wife if they’ve worked will get something like $33,000 in S.S. Can’t live very well on that, can you? We still pay taxes on what our interest bearing accounts pay out an taxes on our S.S. Our health insurance costs has gone into the stratosphere taking a full third of our S. S. checks. Do you think something’s wrong here? When we started working, you could buy an new Dodge for $2000. Now it’s $30,000, but we aren’t in the work force, so our “wages” have come down, and our savings are not producing a reasonable return.

  22. Steve m says:

    I don’t mind paying taxes as a five percenter but it pains me to pay anything knowing that millions of people extract fraudulent refunds both knowingly and unknowingly and moreover Fund pensions of politicians for life in some cases for multiple positions held ( see Hillary Clinton. )

  23. john zinicola says:

    Have a wonderful day

  24. Gail Johnson says:

    In fact the social security tax is 12.4%. The employee has half withheld from his wages. The other half is paid by his employer. Employers rightfully consider their payments on behalf of each employee to be part of that employee’s compensation. No employee, no payment.

    In the small business I owned, social security taxes always were greater than income taxes on the quarterly 941 reports.

  25. jim R says:

    In the chart you show payroll “Taxes” and in the article you talk about the 6.2 % for SS and the 1.4% for Medicare. Where is the 6.2 percent the employer pays into SS ?
    Further, it is obvious to anyone that the 1.45 % is inadequate to fund Medicare going forward. The rate needs to be increased in .25% increments every two years until it reaches 2.5% for eveybody. This would not only be fair it would be financially sound.

    • Syntara says:

      I believe we could relieve much of the stress over the future of Social Security by simply removing the cap on earnings as far as Social Security tax is concerned.

    • Why is it “fair” for higher income earners to fund MORE of that cost than anyone else?
      Why are such payments based on income at all? These are payments for medical insurance and thus everyone should pay the same premiums.

      What needs to be done is to increase monthly Medicare premiums up say $2 a month until those premiums bring in enough money to pay all the claims (and the Medicare “tax” eliminated).

    • Cassandra says:

      In fact, the 6.2% paid in by employers for S.S. is NOT some sort of business expense undertaken at the pleasure of the employer; it is regarded as your “deferred compensation.” Thus, what the employer is putting in is a portion of the EMPLOYEE’S salary. Both the individual SS contribution the employee contributes as well as everything the employer contributes belong to employees. Do not confuse this with some sort of perk; the idea is that if the employer contributed nothing to Social Security, your salary would need to be raised to include that 6.2%. Thus, your REAL salary is what you receive from the employer right now, PLUS your DEFERRED compensation that you collect in the future when you become eligible for Social Security payments.

      Second, the same is true of Medicare–the employer ALSO matches your 1.45% tax, and this is again your deferred compensation as you’re effectively just getting it paid to you later.

      I suggest you hold your horses about raising Medicare collection rates in any case, first because we’ve been fed a load o’ crap by right-wingers since 2009 (well, earlier, but they really cranked it up), that both Medicare and SS are going to collapse in about a second. You’ll recollect at that point our unemployment rate was scyrocketing as a result of the giganormous economic crash that began mid- to late-2008. Of COURSE less was being paid into Medicare and SS at that point (and that applies to a number of years thereafter, but in smaller increments) because there was such a high level of people earning nothing. But every year analysis of those funds indicates those claims are hooey and each has an excected life that just keeps getting longer as unemployment slows even more. Further, if you really think it through, if Republicans could get their hands on any portion of your life savings in either account–and remember, what you have in both is about 15% of every dollar you made in your entire LIFE–they’d probably be able to make taxes for the rich even lower, plus they’d never be forced into voting for new tax increases until the end of time. (Although effectively, of course, everybody who ever paid into those accounts and gets their benefits stolen right out from under them will have received the BIGGEST tax increase in the history of the republic. In other words–watch out. Cuts to Medicare and S.S. are just a scurrilous back-door method of astronomically raising your taxes.) Second, another reason it may be premature to horse around with Medicare payments is that Obamacare has just barely begun and we’re already seeing reduced hospital costs, the lowest insurance premium increases in decades, etc. etc. So if medical care costs for seniors continue to drop, current collections may be sufficient.

  26. Syntara says:

    Another part of the reason that federal revenues are down is because of all of the job off-shoring that has taken place.

    People who once had more well-paying manufacturing jobs are no longer able to provide the former federal income tax revenue they once did.

    I read that China’s economy just this year has surpassed America’s for the first time ever. We built that. We gave them the economic boom they are now experiencing by handing them our jobs. So now, with federal revenues down, here we are, the reason for booming China, from whom we borrow funds to make up the loss in our own federal revenue coffers.

    Off-shoring our jobs was the stupidest thing we ever did for several reasons:

    1) Loss of federal revenue when the jobs left

    2) Loss of our technological expertise when we handing our “trade secrets” over to other countries to learn from and then improve upon

    3) Loss of any reason for more experts who can improve the manufacturing process, thereby loss of more jobs for the engineering, computer programming, and other scientific types, since no manufacturing improvements will occur in a nation where manufacturing no longer takes place.

    I read a book recently by Paul Craig Roberts (economist to Reagan) titled:”Laisseze Fair Capitalism,” a term he uses to describe our current economic policies, in which he claims fellow economists at this time who work within various American universities have been paid by special interest groups to skew what the REAL effects of off-shoring jobs will do/has done, and Mr. Roberts has sat in on the conferences some of these other current-day economists.

    I recommend anyone wishing to learn more about the criticisms of Mr. Roberts purchase the book I cited and read it for themselves. Very enlightening…and maddening. Most of all, I believe what I got from his work is that we all need to use our critical thinking skills…or perhaps develop them so we can use them…to debunk what we are told before accepting it wholesale.

    Ross Perot, who did run for president a couple decades ago honestly told us about that “sucking sound” we would hear if we allowed jobs to be off-shored in the future. While he did say the “sucking sound” would be the noise of our jobs going to Mexico, it doesn’t really matter where they might have gone…only that thaey HAVE gone, and there is nothing to replace them. Unless, of course, you are lucky enough to have completed an Ivy League degree and find a place on Wall Street.

    Other than that, there are service industry jobs. Lots of those. And those jobs cannot provide the tax revenue this nation needs so that we don’t have to borrow from the now booming nation of China.

    So sad. I recall the Pledge of Allegiance I used to say in school growing up. Doesn’t seem as if too many people do remember making that daily pledge to America. Wish they did.

  27. Syntara says:

    Since corporations insist on “personhood,” I mean that they be seen as people just as “real” people are, it occurs to me that perhaps they, too, should pay individual income taxes. After all, they want to be people, let them be people, and then, let them be subject to personal income taxes as all the rest of us “people” are. No more of this C Class status. Let them pay on their earnings just as all the rest of us do.

  28. Tom Payne says:

    So 80% of fed. gov. revenues come from individuals (individual + payroll taxes)! And the US survived & grew & thrived for 150 years before those taxes were even on the books. And still they don’t have enough. I’m nowhere near the high-earners brackets, but I still want the feds off my back. Big Gov = Bad Gov.

  29. Bob Sandifer says:

    As someone once said, “statistics are lies, lies, and damn lies”. In the comments herein I read a lot of jealousy, a lot of greed, a lot of gimme, and a lot of twisting and intermingling of fact and fiction. I am a simple man with a simple mind. I believe I was taught in school that The United States of America was founded because of unfair taxation and undue burden on religion. In this the twenty first century I don’t believe our government, which is no longer of the people, by the people, and for the people, has an answer. Our government exists for its self as the people exists for themselves. Our government is a bloated bureaucracy that, like a ravenous monster, preys on the public to feed its self. A simple man like myself is chewed up and spit out. It doesn’t matter what I make or you make or anyone else makes as long as we just feed the monster who has slowly taken control of our collective lives.

  30. Linda says:

    You have left out one primary figure in your statistics, which I think is the source of the middle class angst. It isn’t the incomes over $250 K that matter so much, it’s the incomes over $1M or maybe $2-3 M. In today’s world, that’s the amount that lets people buy “most things they want.” That should be taxed more, I think most of us think. Your dividing line number includes a lot of people (with several children, house, other family, retirement, tuition, healthcare, and cars) who don’t live a life of luxury, financial or otherwise. A nursing home for mom who never expected, or had the income to save to live to 87 costs $80 K per year, or more. Your $250 K is a dinosaur number, from 1970. Increase that break level with inflation, you’ll come out with mine suggested above.

  31. Tony says:

    If you read the text, and not just the figure, you see the average tax rate on AGI: 25.6% for people over $250k/year, and only 4.2% for people under $50k/year.

  32. Leif Fearn says:

    When our friends and neighbors lament that taxation is too high, I never hear any comment that specifies how high would be just right. I never hear people say that there is a figure, for them, that is enough. How high is too high?

    • Tricia Anthone says:

      There is no such thing. What galls them is the EXISTENCE of “rich” people. If the government took the WHOLE of their wealth, rendering them “poor” that would make them happy. They don’t want a better life for themselves or they’d set about making that happen. Instead, their notion of “fairness” means they need to DENY YOU the right to earn wealth.

    • Christy says:

      If ten percent is enough for God it should be enough for our greedy, irresponsible politicians.

  33. DellStator says:

    Stats, meaningless as usual, but thanks for the vital clues to leverage useful info out of this typical “the rich do all the work” article (despite the provocative chart that says the “rich” pay 48% of taxes (that the article itself puts lie to).
    1. The “rich” of this article also tax home 1/2 the total wages / income / compensation, so all of a sudden paying 1/2 the taxes, well that sounds right, right?
    2. Buried at the very bottom is recognition that payroll taxes skew the stat, and offers an unexplained adjusted no of 38% of Fed taxes paid by rich.
    3. Yet, “payroll” taxes typically include state and local taxes, factored in? Heh, the study admits it didn’t bother to factor out the “nanny tax” which is NOT an income based tax. Then there is what is income. For wage earners easy, for the “rich” not so easy.
    4. I dare the author to recalc and republish, I’d guess the “rich” are really only shouldering 1/4 the taxes, despite reaping 1/2 the total compensation (pay, bonus, investment income, hedge fund returns, stock options, tax free income, business provided perks (jets), kick backs, tax shelters, off shoring income along with the companies they own etc..)
    Which blows to pieces the idea only the rich pay taxes.

    • Cassandra says:

      Those are good arguments. Hey, I have another way to decide who’s paying more taxes: We know for a fact, just by reading the news, that a certain one-percenter recently paid 12.1% in taxes out of all income. We also know for a fact that a part-time budget hotel maid pays in 1.45% for Medicare and 6.2% in Social Security. Then the maid’s employer matches those in “deferred compensation,” so the maid’s actually paying 15.3% taxes right off the starting gate every year, which is a real bundle for somebody with no benefits who’s getting part-time minimum wage. Thus, the maid pays a higher percent in taxes.

      Three notes: if anybody doesn’t get “deferred compensation,” that means the employer is paying you a higher salary than what you see on your paycheck. They’re also forking over part of your REAL salary into Medicare and SS–it’s merely that you’ll receive that portion of salary later. So if you think your real salary is $10 an hour, it’s not–it’s higher. Your real salary is $10.76, and as long as you live long enough, you’ll get back that $.76–that “deferred compensation”–later.

      Now some claim Medicare and SS contributions can’t really be taxes. I could not disagree more. Consider how cuts, if not drastic changes, to these programs are continually discussed by a specific political persuasion. Well, suppose those programs are cut, right when that maid has contributed 15.3% of total salary to them for decades. That’s a LOT of money. That, in fact, is a whole lot of LIFE SAVINGS. So if those programs are cut, how will anything lifted from the maid’s life savings be used??? Why, it’ll be used for exactly the same things that regular income taxes are used for–the federal budget. So if Medicare and S.S. contributions are going to be regarded as fungible, where we all might see them just plain old disappear at any point and there’s only one place they’re funneling into, of course they’re taxes.

      That’s why my contention is that if either program’s cut, that will be the biggest tax increase in the history of the republic. Back-door increase, of course, but nevertheless an astronomical one.

  34. Dellstator says:

    Yes, it’s relative. Disposable income only occurs after “basic” life costs are met. Say about 50G for a family (50% live on less than this). I’ll use savings to illustrate. This family might save 5% a year, $2,500. If the family had 60G in income though, they could easily no save 20%, $10,000 a year. If the family had 100G in income, they could easily save $50G a year, and in a few year have the min. needed to get into a high yield hedge fund returning double digits every year. This is how the wealthier get wealthier. They truly have nothing to do with much of their money, can invest it, earn more, often via non – productive financial vehicles such as manipulative hedge funds. This “excess of disposable income” is what is driving income disparity. Yes, the richer you are the more your expenses CAN eat up all your money, but, you won’t be rich long if it does, so, most of the rich do manage to do the above, keep their basic costs well below their income.

  35. Pam says:

    The gap between haves and have has expanded to the worst ever. The USA does NOT have a progressive tax system. And like I say, no taxes, no civilization.

  36. Larry C says:

    The statement that the U.S. tax system as a whole is progressive is not in any way validated. Progressive taxing means the RATE increases with income. The percent of total taxes is not relevant w/o reference to the percent of total income.
    While you have addressed the non-progressive payroll tax, you have not addressed the rate issue highlighted by the “Buffet pays lower rate than his secretary” reality. Also the Walton family purportedly being worth about the same as the lowest 40% of Americans should justify a large tax bill?
    An analysis of how capital gains rates and hedge fund interest income rates “skew” the system toward the wealthy would be appropriate.

  37. e. jones says:

    % paid on the tables, does this include discounts for charitable contributions, etc…it seems the better you understand the potential deductions the less you pay if you are wealthy you can afford your own tax attorney or accountant….by the way, for those at the very bottom are you counting retirees on social security as “not paying taxes” that would really slant the numbers…just wondering

  38. Charles says:

    I find this article interesting. Interesting in the fact that the chart is only goes to $250k and “above” the issue is the above. I would like to see if broken out further. The top 10% of income earners paid 68% of taxes in 2011 but they also that top 10% earned 45% of all the income earned. While the bottom 50% paid 3 percent but only earned 12% of the income.

  39. Bill K. says:

    A corporation is just a piece of paper. Pieces of paper cannot pay income tax.

    All corporate taxes are paid by the shareholders, management and employees of the corporation who would have received the taxed dollars had the government not headed them off at the pass and grabbed the money first.

    The reason for the corporate income tax is, what else, politics. Fingering a corporation for not paying its fair share goes down much more easily with the public than does the knowledge that one tenth of one percent of the general population pays over a third of all income tax.

    • What mechanisms would share those funds with employees? None. The free market moves toward profits, period, it’s its nature. There is no “Profit” in sharing with employees. So if they were taxed even lower, it would just mean services would be cut that are supplied by the Government, usually helping the middle class and wealth would go to the stockholders and CEO wages. It is not a no-gain affect.

      Also, if everyone is going to talk about things like “one tenth of one percent of the general population pays over a third of all income tax” you need to state the other half of the calculation… (a source would be nice too) What percent of the income does that 1/10th of 1% take home?

      What you all are basically saying is “10 million people ride the subway, that’s a lot of people!” Not over 50 years! The fact I have to explain this to a lot of “Conservatives” speaks volumes for “Conservative” knowledge of numbers or lack there of.

      From CNN Money:
      “The 1% as a group pay a bigger share of income taxes than their share of adjusted gross income: As a group, the top 1% earned nearly 19% of all adjusted gross income reported in 2011 and paid 35% of all federal income taxes.

      Of course, adjusted gross income doesn’t measure all income, only what must be reported for taxes. So, for instance, it doesn’t include income that those in the top 1% may have made from tax-exempt investments, such as municipal bonds.
      Nor do federal income taxes represent any income group’s entire tax burden.
      The effective tax rate of the top 1% was 23.5%: The average tax rate paid by these high-income households was 23.5% — which represents the percent of their income they paid in federal income taxes”

      So, lots of missing info in your numbers, I don’t’ see the benefit of ignoring reality. The top 1% take home 1/5 of income, they pay 1/3 of income taxes. NOT counting “Other income” income that is much more common in the top 1%.

      Now calculate in the ~17% that the middle class pays in payroll taxes that the top 1% doesn’t pay. (I’m including the employee and employer SS match, it’s all part of the employee pay package) This is another number “Conservatives” ignore.

      There is a reason, that middle class wealth is shrinking and the top 1% is growing, it doesn’t take a math degree to figure out, that can’t go on forever. Making the wealth out to be the victims is pure propaganda.

      • Bill Bradsky says:

        Actually there’s evidence that shows companies that profit share and/or pay higher salaries generally tend to be more profitable than companies who short-change their work force. They also fare better during recessions, have lower turnover rates and tend to have more stable and sustainable growth. Some examples that come to mind are Google, WalMart in its early days (certainly not now that Walton Sr. is long dead and soulless corporate directors run the company) and Costco now. Henry Ford literally doubled the salary of your average auto industry worker in 1914 and cut their hours per week by 50%, and we all know how that worked out. There are many more examples if you care to do the research. They do teach that in business school, but alas, most managers never go to business school, or at least don’t pay attention to reason and evidence if they do.
        The point is that the problem isn’t really the profit motive. The problem is the quarter by quarter profit motive, rather than the long-term sustainable profit motive. If we can change the system to incentivize long-term profitability rather than short-term revenue and profit targets, you would see more companies take a rational approach to paying their workforce, and people would end up getting paid more.

        • Luke says:

          Right, because OBVIOUSLY the greatest long term profit gain strategy for companies is to disincentivize, exploit , and turn mercenary the very people the future success of the company is dependent on. The CEO is not going to make a product that consumers will purchase all by themselves. I suppose that can work somewhat in the short term with a captive labor market, which we still mostly have (bills do need to be paid at the end of the month regardless). But in the long term or under more favorable market conditions for employees (if there ever are)?

          Rome did real well with their mercenaries, I guess most of these companies are foolish enough to believe they can do better.

  40. What a ridiculously misleading article… The author left out many important factors.

    • Bayhuntr says:

      “The author left out many important factors.” We’re waiting… Were none important enough for you to list?

      • Luke says:

        Let’s start with the first one; the “% of income tax paid” is a vapid and misleading statistic. To clarify, this is the percentage of TOTAL income tax revenue collected by the government that is paid for (in total by summing individual contributions) by this group classification. This is not the income tax % on income paid by each group, which is why this article makes it look like only the top % income earners are paying a high amount of tax.

        Looking at the % of income paid as income tax by each group would be much more relevant.

        Who really is going to pay a higher percentage of the total revenue? People paying something like 5,000 on a 30,000 a year income or people paying 400,000 on a 1,000,000 a year income? Obviously the highest income earners will pay the highest percentage of total income tax collected. It takes 80 people paying the 5,000 income tax to match one person paying the 400,000 income tax in terms of total dollar to dollar paid.

        I would have loved to “only” pay 16.1% income tax when I was really watching 33% of my income lopped off in taxes [in the 50,000 to 99,999 bracket].

  41. I remember my grandmother telling me that there was no income tax when she grew up. If x number pay into the system and y take away from the system when does it find equilibrium.

  42. Swiss Secret says:

    Here is the Swiss Tax Secret – the rich pay a wealth tax at the state level(Canton). This is the Zurich and Federal Tax calculator for Warren Buffet, Married, Kids out of the house, if he lived in Switzerland.

    His Income tax is about 9% for Federal, 9 % State and 10% local taxes so Close to 28% total Income tax, as that is progressive here, like the good ol USA.

    On his wealth – that is taxed at the highest WEALTH tax rate of 2.99% both City and State plus a church – 10% tithing based on State taxes .

    So basically 3 parts – plus the church for 400,000 in income and 80 Billion in wealth, Mr Buffets tax would be a bit hirer than his Secretary.

    Federal Income Tax 34,129.00
    State Tax (canton) 239’957’328.00
    City 251’955’194.40
    Church 24,000,000.00

    Total about 516 Million income and church, even though he only paid himself 400,000 Income. So a 129,000% effective tax rate if only calculating the full tax ingainst the income he pays himself and not looking at wealth.

    Average Swiss Married Joe, the Little People, both working earning a total of 120,000 with a home and Net assets of a 500,000 would pay about 14% and a 0.5 % wealth tax, so

    Federal Income Tax 1,387.00
    State Tax (canton) 6,716.00
    City 7,051.80
    Church 671.60

    Total about 16,000 income TAX and church and Weath tax, earning 120,000 a year.

    Anyway – the example is extreme and just estimates, reality is if Buffet lived in Switzerland, his lawers would probably negotiate his Wealth tax down to 80 Million based on his 80 Billion wealth – as the tax rates are a guideline not a hard rule in most Cantons, and he would live in Zug which has a lower State and wealth tax rate on the rich…

    The example was more intended to show that there are 2nd parts to Taxes in Switzerland- Both Income and Wealth.

    Thinking in Switzerland is the Wealthier have more to loss, they think it is fairer that all citizens or residents also pay taxes on their World Wide Wealth and not just use Income and corporate taxes. Land of the Rich – where Rich pay taxes? Can that Be, is that fair to tax Wealth as well as income? Anyway – posted for thought and comment.

    PS – wealth tax is in place of Property taxes, so why City and State taxes appear high, as Property taxes are included in that number above, as a Progressive Wealth tax. Someone owning a 10 Million mansion might pay 3%, though a family in 600.000 home with a mortgage of 400K might just pay just 0.5%, depending on how many other assets they have outside of Pension plans, and of course have an interest deduction.

    • Fred says:

      I dont think anyone cares how the Swiss do it. Switzerland is the size of one small (very small) U.S. State. I dont see tons of people or anyone for that matter, flooding out of the US saying gee we got to hurry up and get to Switzerland they got their %$$% together…

    • Joe says:

      Not buying the Swiss tax thing. Switzerland doesn’t have a FATCA law. Their rich can and do legally hide wealth, income, and gains in foreign accounts (tax havens) so that they’re completely tax-free. Same is true in all Scandinavian and European countries, and they have more and better social and safety net programs than does the U.S.

      Think about that…

  43. Very good article. The lower 1% (approximately 300.000 usd)are probably paying a higher percentage than the 0.5%. Percentages out of context mean nothing, in this age of astronomical wealth disparity. The multimillionaires and billionaires pay very little on their total wealth. Their millions of dollars salaries pale in comparison then there total wealth.
    The tax code is a convoluted game where those with the most amount of wealth can hire lawyers all year long to find never ending loopholes and dubious tax write offs to pay less in percentage terms than a lower middle class family making 50k a year. Even if the 0.5% or even more wealthy paid 50% they still have millions or billions left in money and assets. For a lower middle class family paying 20% that is an amount that leaves them with almost nothing to pay for vital necessities like food at the end of month. A lower middle class or middle class family does not have the time to exploit the tax code. And it would be a waste of time because the loopholes and write offs are tailo rmade for the very wealthy.

  44. Cindy says:

    It isn’t just the dollar amount paid. For every individual there is a basic income to provide a modest living (which corporations don’t have). If I make $32000, of which $25000 goes to a modest living and pay $3896 in taxes, that tax liability takes 15.5 percent from my modest living. If somebody earns $250,000 that tax is only around 1.5 percent of that same modest living. Therefore, the wealthy pay less in taxes for the basics than those who work hard for a simply lifestyle.

    • Bill Bradsky says:

      Cindy, someone who makes $250,000 a year pays a higher percentage of their income than you do on average. If they paid the same percentage even, it would be $38,750. In fact, they pay 36% if they’re single, or $90,000. Your point still stands though, but I think it’s important that the facts are understood. Most people think that rich people pay a smaller percentage of their personal income, but in fact they pay more of a percentage. I agree though that $90k out of the pocket of a person making $250k a year is much less burdensome to them than $3896 is out of the pocket of a person making $32k a year, but again, the facts are important.

      • skeptic@large says:

        ” … the facts are important.”

        Indeed! And the fact is that $90k out of the pocket of a person making $250k a year is much less burdensome to them than $3896 is out of the pocket of a person making $32k a year. But the real problem is not that the tax system is not as fair as it might be in order to distribute the burden more equitably. The real injustice is the distribution of returns on invested capital and labor when nearly all is returned to capital and little to none to labor. And as our labor force moves more toward the services industries and away from manufacturing (which continues to be moved to cheaper labor sources overseas) the problem is exacerbated.

        The near complete destruction (at least partially self inflicted) of unions leaves labor at the mercy of employers seeking to satisfy shareholders never ending need for higher returns. Until our captains of industry come to realize that when we recognize the interests of all stakeholders (customers, employers, government and shareholders) we can all be winners we will continue to pick each other apart and only the powerful survive. The Ayn Rand model is a self fulfilling prophecy.

        • Adam Walter says:

          Well written, but not to be cynical. Millions of years of survival of the fittest is not undone with policy. The rich will always get richer, and the powerful will always get more powerful until there is an economic reset due to natural disaster. This is just how the world works. I wish it didn’t, I truly do, and I know it is a cynical statement, but it is true.
          As upper income, I try my hardest to staunch the societal bleeding through charity work, and giving about 23% of my income to those in need, as well as creating internships in high tech industry, and adopting children in the foster system.
          I create policy for a living and don’t believe it will change society…I personally change society and hope to infect others with my life. Because again, history shows us that people will compete to be the strongest, well then, if you are going to compete with me and out give me, then I welcome the survival of the fittest on that battlefront 🙂

          • Lee Hester says:

            I think I would just want to point out that “survival of the fittest” does not imply any form of moral value…. or indeed any value to society. Oftentimes the rich are only good at making money and not much else, while many who are working class are far more beneficial to society.

            I’d like to think that human society could advance to the point that everything were more equitable, though I understand your cynicism based on history. But then, I’m a philosopher…. and an American Indian. Many tribes had leaders who were chosen by how well they had benefited the tribe and oftentimes these leaders were required to give away all their wealth to the people (potlatch ceremonies are one example) and there were many more institutions designed to ensure that the common welfare was paramount over individual welfare…. and ultimately I think that usually worked out to the benefit of all.

            But that certainly isn’t modern America…. nor is it most of the rest of the world.

      • Luke says:

        It is very simple, go do whatever that person does to make 250,000 a year and pay your 90,000 a year in taxes so you can be less “burdened” by your 33% tax liability then your 3,896 [or 12.175% tax liability] on your 32,000 a year income then.

        You say you work hard for your money to make 32,000 a year and that may be true; however what exactly did that person do to make 250,000 a year? Do you really think they worked any less hard for the money that they rightfully earned than you did?

        Can’t go make 250,000 a year in income? Well then, that person is obviously doing something different than you are… do you really think they are working any less hard for it? Or that they did work less hard in the past in order to make that now?

        • Mike Moran says:

          You know, those of us who actually did start at the bottom and worked our way up (the old American way, which has largely died and only a lucky few of us can go there) know first hand that the more money you make, the less hard work you really need to put into what you’re doing.

          So as someone who will likely be making 250,000 a year by the end of all this, the answer is yes. I may have “earned” that money but society simply smiled on me while it did not on another, and it’s not THAT hard once you have your foot in the door.

          • Jonathan says:

            At a certain point, you learn how to work smarter rather than harder. One person alone can not generate that much income but by dividing the work between several people, you can accomplish much more than the sum of the whole. Two people with a saw between them can cut down a lot more trees with less effort than one person with an axe.

    • Adam Walter says:

      First hand experience here, as a household that fits into the description of 200K plus. I will generalize a lot but here is my experience:
      In the last 15 years I have gone from 28K a year to over 200. Gradually hitting each tax bracket in the meantime. The current one I am in sucks the most in terms of percentages paid by FAR.
      Last year I payed over $60K in taxes. leaving me with $140K. That is a nice chunk of money, and more than I need to live on.
      However, I get almost no tax breaks, no refunds (I have 5 kids btw), and I pay about $2000 a month in student loans (also no tax break for those…or my house…or my kids)
      So while when I was younger and got a nice refund each year from Uncle Sam for my kids, house, student loans, and a plethora of other items…I no longer get any breaks. My best bet is to shove as much as I can into retirement and hope that the financial system doesn’t fail because that SS money will never come back to me.

      • Luke says:

        And how about the people that do not have children, a mortgage, student loans, or a plethora of other items to begin with (perhaps possibly even simply due to their own better planning)?

        Oh well, more money for the government to take from them while not taking it from everyone else as well.

        I love hearing about how other people are entitled to the money I HAVE to go out and EARN.

  45. Airfuzz says:

    This is total bs… Wouldn’t doubt corporations funded this ‘research’..I make less than 20k a year.. After taxes, less than 15k, just above the federal poverty line, meaning I don’t qualify for any kind of assistance (and after paying my insurance, even less than 15k..).. So explain to me how I pay this average of 4.2%?.. Bc it’s more like 15-20%.. Leaving me enough to pay my bills, and have gas money to gt to and from work.. The uber-rich have no idea what struggling is…

    • Bill Bradsky says:

      I’m assuming you’re still single? If you’re not irresponsibly having children when you can barely support yourself, the government doesn’t care about you. The reason they don’t care about you is not because they care so much about “the poor children.” It’s because they need a bigger dependent class to solidify their power, and so they subsidize the poor only when they reproduce. If you get married and have three kids, you’ll probably pay little or no tax at all and receive a myriad of public assistance options.
      Not that I advocate you do so. It would still result in your faring worse over time economically. That’s another way in which the government solidifies their power. They not only create a dependent class, they keep them there!

    • phil says:

      you probably live at home, so you have no expenses…

    • Beckysue says:

      If you earn that little and feel its unfair here are some choices you can make while our country is still free. 1) relocate – you have to go to where the work is 2) get more education or training 3) get feedback on why your time is not as valued as the average American. Then make changes. Getting rich was hard for lots of rich people. I’ve watched a few. They sweat blood and give up lots of family time. There’s sacrifice and then follows the possibility of a payday.

    • Olivia says:

      You get what you work for and if you want a better life go out and work for it. We all have too. We all make choices in life not always easy ones but necessary ones. I have been on both sides of the coin and always will work more and harder for my money and not ask for hand outs EVER and not complain about what others have that work for their wealth.

  46. Ted says:

    good piece that blows up some of the cherished beliefs on the left that the rich don’t pay taxes

  47. Sean says:

    For being a Pew piece, this has some serious methodological issues. Such as:

    No analysis of capital.gains?

    Minimal discussion of actual.percentages of.total income paid as taxes (from all sources, not just what counts as “income” for tax purposes).

    Weird and somewhat artificial breakdown at the top income levels. What’s with a 100-199 level followed by a 200-250 level? Why is 250 the cutoff studied at the top?

  48. Ryan says:

    I have a question for the left. Do you think you pay too much or that the rich pay to little? And a question of my own to everyone is how does the government spend most of that money? When I was growing up my dad made over 250 000 a year. We never had to worry but he was smart ambitious and personable. He earned every bit of with hard work. Another thing I would like to point out is I never knew what a food stamp was for 25 years. My dad paid for everything. Never had any assistance . I have been in the opposite spectrum for almost ten years now. The huge majority of the people I deal with everyday are either not working or they get paid just enough to get by. But almost all of them including single white males get government help. A mom and three kids easily gets 600 or more food stamps every month. The only time most of these people get groceries without a food stamp is by stealing it. I don’t receive any assistance but I don’t earn either. I also do not steal. My overall opinion based on what I’ve seen and what I’ve learned is the rich people don’t care about the poor and the poor don’t want to do anything but make excuses. Both are negative. But one side makes the world turn and the other side are just a bunch of snivling babies who act like its impossible for them to do any better.

    • Dan says:

      What a bunch of bs. If poor people really only made excuses then why do Americans work the most out of any major country?

    • I’m a poor student trying to pay through college. And so far I’ve made maybe like $6,000 ytd (it’s the end of October right now), yet I’ve paid about $1,200 to witholding, medicare, ss, and state taxes. The rich may pay more in taxes, but they have more leftover when all is said and done anyway. Living on $6,000 and working through school is hard enough when nearly 20% of it goes away to taxes.

      I may get “benefits” like finanicial aid (yay loans to be repaid later), and a slightly larger gain from my tax return, but just to put it into perspective what it means to be below the poverty level. The rich may pay more, but they have more to spend, meanwhile the poor stuggle to live with what they already have. Having to sacrifice even a small amount from an already small income just hurts the poor more.

      • Michael says:

        I grew up in Trenton, NJ in the 70s. My parents were not well off and often struggled to make ends meet. However, they never received public assistance. More importantly they never complained. Fast forward to the 80s. When I graduated high school, I probably could have received assistance, grants and student aid to make it convenient for me. And I probably could have graduated in 4 years but I didn’t. I took a job as a bank as a teller. I worked full time and earned minimum wage…yup minimum wage. I went to college Monday through Thursday from 7:00PM to 10:00PM. I worked a 2nd job on Friday night and Saturday for a local photographer to have enough money to pay my bills and tuition. I studied on Sunday, which was the only day I wasn’t either working or going to school from the time I woke up until the time I went to bed. I did this for 16 years and eventually earned a masters degree. I didn’t complain or feel entitled to anything. If you can’t afford to live on $6000, pay taxes and go to school then change your schedule and work more. Why should anyone have to pay one more nickel in taxes for your convenience, so you can work less and still have more money in your pocket.

        • Nick says:

          A couple things. First, to answer your question why we should pay for him.. Because most of us would rather have him graduate in 4 years, become an engineer or biochemist, and spend the next 16 years designing better products or drugs rather than work as a bank teller for 16 years. The lost economic productivity involved in the scenario where we make students who have the potential to become highly productive members of society put themselves through college for 16 years (or 6 or 8 or 10) while working at low productivity jobs is staggering. There’s a lot of merit to cutting other forms of assistance but from the standpoint of the American economy.. we want those kids to graduate quickly (preferably with STEM degrees) and get into the field. Second, I graduated with my MBA in 1984 so you and I are close to being peers. Just like you, back then I was largely able to support myself by working through college. The difference? Minimum wage isn’t what it used to be and college tuition is a lot more than it used to be. Third, I also worked minimum wage for a while in college. You do realize that means I benefited from a government program – minimum wage – right? It propped up my earnings. Who knows what I would have made without it and who knows if I could have kept made my tuition payments without it (as admittedly small as those tuition payments were back then).

          • JoAnn V says:

            Thank You Nick someone who actually sees the difference between now and back in the 80s. Do peolpe not know it now takes $22.41 to buy what $4.00 could have bought in 1973. So someone who is making $7.75 is really only making $1.38 an hour. Tuition use to be a couple hundred a semester now it is a few thousand a semester. Trying to make sure todays millenials have the same opportunities as yesterdays baby boomers is not crying or greed. Any one who doesn’t see the difference between todays world and the 1970s when it was incredibly easy to file for banruptcy, needs some economics, history, and sociology classes. Hope you can afford them

  49. Ryan says:

    The Left – give me, take, complain, and honestly never have any valid points or thoughts on anything except its not fair. Like my Dad always said the fair is in Pamona.

    The Right – this is mine, I don’t care if your starving, I am entitled to make as much as I want and I don’t think its fair that I have to pay higher taxes.

    Both sides are wrong in completely different ways. Let’s say the left were a person and so was the right. The left winged libs would be like a young down syndrome kid.
    The right side conservative would be a non sympathetic, arrogant, athletic, genius.

    Which one would you rather have in control? Ha ha ha how the truth hurts.

    I am a poor but not brainwashed person. I believe that if I shared the same views as other brainwashed libs I would be trading in my self respect for government assistance. There is no integrity in the left.

    I don’t like how the right are either. Most of them don’t have a clue what its like to have to worry about paying rent and etc. But here’s what it comes down to. No matter if it was inherited or earned its there money. Get it. Not anyone elses . And a good portion of the federal handouts are funded by these people. The same handouts paying for groceries for struggling moms to drug users. So give it up you libs. If you want life to be easier bust your butt or marry someone rich or whatever. But if u do ever become wealthy you will finally understand that its your money and not anyone elses.

    • Tony Tuite says:

      That was incredibly well put! I’ve been trying to figure out how to put that into words for the longest time!

    • JC says:

      I agree with Tony, very well said

    • get it says:

      That’s absolutely right . I wish there was more people like you to realize that . I am in the same situation not rich but won’t blame the rich people that I am not rich myself

    • Lee Hester says:

      Sorry Tony, we can’t all be rich…. and your characterization of liberals as “Down syndrome kids” is disingenuous at best and is not presented as an effective analogy.

      The bottom line is that the majority of working people are just that: Hard workers. Yet, the folks at the top have done everything they can to cripple unions, keep the minimum wage low and just generally disadvantage workers when it comes to seeking appropriate pay and benefits. Our productivity has constantly gone up, making the rich richer, but we’ve gotten less and less of a share of the pie WE created. That really is not fair and it doesn’t take a trip to Pamona (sic) to figure it out.

      And that is the point, the rich didn’t create all that wealth. We all did… and the rich couldn’t be rich without an awful lot working class people getting them there. So, it is impossible for us all to just work hard and become wealthy… it takes a lot of non-wealthy people doing the work to support each one of those wealthy folks.

      To the extent that there are some folks that are sponges or “welfare queens” frankly, it is not hard to see why. You bust your butt for next to nothing and the CEO gets the pay raise you earned…. and when they run the business into the ground and escape with a golden parachute worth more money than your family will ever see in a hundred lifetimes, you end up on the street. I’m surprised that so many people have as good a work ethic as they do… and they definitely do, or our productivity would not be what it is.

      If you are rich, you can actually fail upward, if you are poor it is almost impossible to get ahead no matter how hard you try.

      And of course, a lot of rich people aren’t CEO’s, they are shareholders that owe their wealth to their parents. How hard does Paris Hilton work and is she really worth it?

      In sum, the answer is NOT as easy as “The poor are poor because they didn’t work hard enough and the rich deserve every dime because of their hard work.”

      Oftentimes the rich are the ones that don’t deserve it and the workers have gotten the shaft.

      I think everyone wishes that hard work was enough… but even a Pomona fairgoer should know better.

      • David says:

        Well said Lee. We are always going to need the ‘workers’, whether we are rich or poor. Therefore, I would think it was in all our self interest to pay workers a living wage.

        • Joe says:

          “Thank you. Since we decided a few weeks ago to adopt the leaf as legal tender, we have, of course, all become immensely rich. […]

          “But we have also,” continued the management consultant, “run into a small inflation problem on account of the high level of leaf availability, which means that, I gather, the current going rate has something like three deciduous forests buying on ship’s peanut.” […]

          “So in order to obviate this problem,” he continued, “and effectively revalue the leaf, we are about to embark on a massive defoliation campaign, and…er, burn down all the forests. I think you’ll all agree that’s a sensible move under the circumstances.”

          ― Douglas Adams, The Ultimate Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy

      • Ryan says:

        I really appreciate what you have said. You made your point without using any double talk or nonsense. That is very unusual. Some of the points that you made i honestly dont know enough about to have an opionon on. At least not yet. I personally think that minimum wage is too low. I dont know details about how and why the conservatives or liberals effect the matter but like i said ill do a little research and get back to you on a few things. And for the tastless analogy about liberals being retarded i apoligize. But eventhough you make very strong and interesting points i have many disagreements. I believe if your black, white, gender challenged, etc., there is enough oppurtunity out there to work and get paid more than enough to be comfortable. Now remember i myself am not the most. Ambitious person and i havent been working very much for the last three years and almost not at all this last year. So take that into consideration when it comes to my opinions. And if you dont understand me i am saying that my views are not typical of people who are poor like me, which ibeleive means that it holds more flavor. Anyways too many people think that you need to be smart or go to college to earn good money. That will definately help but it is not necessary. There are soo many trades that require no schooling. Except of that trade of course that offer really good money. Welding, plumbing, landscaping, and the list goes on and on. It might take you ten years to start at the bottom but once you are good at what u do and have all the angles covered, and are your own boss you will make plenty of money. It would probably be much harder for someone who is from a promidently black hood to do this but still easily in reach with years of hard work. I can go on forever but im gonna cut it short. Lee. Thanks

  50. Moe Dean says:

    If the rich ever abandoned the US of A, the lights would go out. Get on your knees and thank them today.

    • Ian Ollmann says:

      Let ’em. We’d make more.

    • Travis says:

      The rich got rich because of this country, sure let them leave but they won’t make the same income elsewhere. Too many rich are second + owners of businesses…so they are rich because of daddy and mommy. Just ask trump, he inherited 50 to 150 million from daddy and is “too big” to fail so he has filed bankruptcy a few times to protect his wealth. Sounds fair to me. History shows that when the lower class suffers it can lead to society failure, just look at rome….

      • JoAnn V says:

        Travis you are absolutely right the rich got rich off of the rules and regulations in place in the United States. Let me see a corporation charge US prices in a third world country will lower corporate tax and let me see a corporation not get taxed even more in a developed country. They got it both ways in the US. Guess all these conservatives enjoy being slaves to people like Martin Shkreli marking up the price of prescriptions 5000%. While the sick patients die!! How is trying to save as many lives as possible greedy at all? Let’s see if Walmart left hmmm what would happen, oh yeah maybe Montgomery Wards, Kmart, Mervyns could come back and we could have some actual competition instead of Oligarchies. Maybe all their employees could work at any of the other hundreds of minimum wage jobs available in this country. Guess what guys if you want to get wealthy off the people in the United States there is a fee for that country club membership. You don’t get to be huge and profit off of the peoples deaths, regardless of how so many of the population are completely ignorant to the situation.

  51. Stammer says:

    I don’t really take issue with our current personal income tax system, except for the fact that some corporations are able to file under it instead of under corporate income tax laws. Whoever heard of a more ridiculous notion than a company claiming to be a person to avoid paying their proper dues to society. What’s worse is the offshore bank holding that allegedly account for billions if not trillions in unpaid income tax.

    I believe this is truly where the problem lies, not with individuals. The sooner we close these particular loopholes, the sooner society can benefit from that revenue. We’re not just talking about poor people benefiting here either. Even the rich use public infrastructure, without which there can be no commerce. Even the rich benefit from a strong military, a working postal service, access to clean water and safety inspected food. These are things that suffer when billions of dollars in taxes are not paid when they should be.

    Source: http://money.cnn.com/2014/08/14/news/economy/corporate-taxes-inversion/

    • Bill Rabara says:

      You ar confused. A business set up as a corporationalways pays taxes imposed on corporations. Some business are nit incorporated at all , e.g. A small am and pz convenience store is likely a sole proprietorship. In that instance the busses does not pay corporate taxes but rather the income is still taxed as personal income.

      • joe says:

        I think you’re the one who’s confused… bank of america is just one example of Corp greed. their name has America in it they made billions off fees and loans off our infrastructure and consistently paid no federal taxes. how is that fair?

  52. Charlie says:

    People who inherit money say it’s theirs (e.g. see earlier comment). What make it “theirs?” The law does. It’s theirs because we voted to make it “theirs” to the extent we don’t tax it. Well, if we decide to tax it more, then that part is not “theirs” then. And we could even change the law so that people don’t inherit anything. That may not be a good idea but if we did, then it wouldn’t be “theirs.”

    • SD says:

      If I have scrimped and saved all my life to hopefully provide for my old age, and perhaps some inheritance for my kids, if the govt took this savings away, so that my kids could not say that this was ” theirs” I would spend it all before I went to the great beyond.

  53. AM2 says:

    @Stammer LOL of course you don’t take an issue. Statistically speaking you don’t pay much in taxes.

    “Whoever heard of a more ridiculous notion than a company claiming to be a person to avoid paying their proper dues to society” What’s with the greed Stammer? Do you do take all the deductions you can to minimize your tax burden? LOL of course you do. And why do you care? Worry about yourself.

    “The sooner we close these particular loopholes, the sooner society can benefit from that revenue.” Or in other words, the “poor” who pay very little if any taxes.

    “We’re not just talking about poor people benefiting here either. Even the rich use public infrastructure, without which there can be no commerce.” Equal pay for equal use. No more making someone else pay for the party.

    • Anonymous says:

      read AM2 point of view ,Even the rich use public infrastructure, without which there can be no commerce.”
      I will expand a bit on this from my point of view ,to include everyday people and how we all need infrastructure .
      This cost us all and benefits us all . As far as taxes if we can get a job with out 30 year old wages ,we can then earn more and contribute more .The size of a loop hole ,well, these loop holes hurt the whole system and everyone in it , rich , poor and those in the middle.
      Bridges to rail systems need upgrading taxes used for infrastructure help us stay competitive and profitable .
      The jobs that are created ,again and again , work to raise the lowest to the highest wage earnings in this country ,equally .
      Creating or receiving a living wage for the labor force and profits for the corporations should be looked on as equatable for both . The taxes collected would be a help and a benefit to all peoples .
      Increase the proficiency of the heavily used infrastructure ,create jobs ,profits and the tax base – close a few loopholes and we could be o.k. .

  54. Sally says:

    The wealthiest 1% pays 24% in income tax. Someone making $75000 a year, a working class person with a family, pays 19.7. The top 1% should be paying closer to 91%.

    • Todd Danza says:

      I can’t see any justification for taxing anyone more than 49%. Any more than that and you’re pretty much owned by the government and working for their benefit over yours. No government should ever have claim to more of your wealth than you do.

      • Aaron Waller says:

        Anyone who makes over $20,000/yr already pays more than 49% in total taxes. We are owned! Add it up.

        Federal Income tax, State Income tax, Property tax(direct or indirect through higher rents.), Sales tax(state and city), Gas tax, Vehicle( tabs, taxes, licensees and fees.), communication (on your phone or cable bill), tolls, travel. I’m sure there are some I’m missing. Tariffs and other such things for moving goods across borders.

        Federal, State and City fines? I got a seat belt ticket in my town. The max fine in my state for a seat belt ticket is $50. Guess what the ticket cost me. Over a hundred dollars. The rest was fees of course. Just another tax.

        And lets not forget the one place trickle down 100% works, corporate tax. The corporation gets taxes and we pay more.

        Every one of these taxes reduces the wealth of the middle class.

        Oh and before I forget after a certain level of income you stop paying more for social security.

        When you add up all the taxes and fees don’t think for a moment that the middle class doesn’t pay way more then their share. Sickeningly so.

        My point we have to get away from income taxes. It is gutting the wealth of this country. The 1% loves the the tax system. The government takes our wealth and redistributes it to the rich(corporate subsidy’s and the poor. People who make between $20,000 and $250,000 a year get the shaft.

      • Norman R Edwards says:

        If you are forced to provide 50% of the food on the buffet table. I would think you would have a large say of what is on the menu. Every able body should bring something to the table – or be show the door (But please do not bring a pack of hot dogs and expect to eat filet mignon).

    • Steve says:

      Actually France went as high a 75% just a couple of years ago. It was a dismal failure. Businesses left, startups stopped happening, even small-time farmers whose land had gone up in value in previous years started getting destroyed by the government because they had no idea what their land was worth until the government came demanding payment on the excessive taxes. By then it was too late. They’d end up selling everything and still being in debt to their government.

      • Cub Scout says:

        ^That’s the reality that too many people just don’t understand.

        As Obama CLEARLY stated during his 2007 debate with Hillary Clinton, people don’t want higher taxes to increase revenue. They want higher taxes ON OTHERS for “issues of fairness”.


      • Donald Cole says:

        That is because of free trade is allowed their. They also have a fraction of the consumers we have. 🙂 If we reinstate the tariffs on foreign imports, those leaving would then be paying higher cost of goods sold than if they had stayed. 300 million consumers allows the model to take the burden of taxation and still remain equitable. American history proves your “French” example wrong. a near 90% tax rate in the United States following the depression sparked the largest growth in revenue and economic boom in our history and sparked the tech age. Made us a superpower. That is what you don’t seem to understand. Your consumers are your work force. If your consumers don’t make enough, then your product have to be cheaper… You’re way devalues the GDP and overall economic health of our nation.

    • Jesse says:

      the top 1% pay about 5.4% in income tax where as the middle and lower class pay about 10.9%. It sounds like the wealthy are being charged less but in reality they pay more in taxes than the middle class get in a year. The top 1% are paying more than the lower class even get in a year. What the government needs to do is reduce government spending on stupid things and maybe adjust the tax system a little but really the rich are just fine being taxed any more is just robbing them because the lower class can’t get their butts up and work for their money. (Not including the rich who just inherit their money.)

      • Hmmm says:

        Where did you get this statistic?? The top 1% pay on average an effective tax rate of 23%. The bottom 50% – 3%. The top 1% pay more in taxes than the bottom 90%. They also pay a much higher share of income taxes than what their overall adjusted gross income share is – 35% to 19%, respectively. What I don’t get is Mr. Bernie is just barely outside of the 1% and Hillary is in more like the .01%, and yet they can claim they’re for the poor and yawda, yawda? I call BS.

        • Mike Gonz says:

          They’re politicians. Politician’s paychecks tend to be high for no reason. Bernie’s worth about $500,000…not your highest 1%er…especially for someone who’s been in politics for over 30 years..

      • Cub Scout says:

        Hmmm, your envy is such a pretty shade of green.

      • Anonymous says:

        Yes, you made an excellent point

    • Hmmm says:

      Household’s in the top 1% make an income of about $400k/year. So a household making this much money and paying a 91% tax would be bringing in only $36k/year – less than the national median household income by 16k (the national median is 52k). That just doesn’t make sense. Comparing to income percentiles at this point in time, they’d be at about the bottom 35%. That’s obviously bad economics. People don’t realize what the actual income of the top 1% really is. You don’t have to be raking in a mil per year to be considered at that point. Fact is, if you are raking in a mil, you’re actually in the 0.1%. And a tax of 91% on even them puts them at 90k/year (definitely doing well, but not insanely wealthy by any means). Do your math people and stop just basing all your thought processes on strictly emotion.

      • guy polito says:

        You do the math. It was/is a graduated tax system, not a code that would tax a high income earner at 90 percent from dollar one, that person making 400K with a top tate of 91 percent would take home considerably more than 36K. You better go back and try to understand exactly how income taxes work, whether here or in other countries that tax the wealthy at a higher rate oe the way the US used to tax the wealthy when Ike was President. It wasn’t the way you think it was.

    • put in flat tax 30% no deductions .

    • Dallas Stephens says:

      I’m guessing that math wasn’t your strongest subject in school. According to the chart above, the one-fifth (21.7%) of the population that earned between $50,000 & $100,000 paid only 14.9% of the income taxes. In other words, they paid about 2/3 of their ‘fair share’. On the other hand, the one-fifth (16% of the population that earned over $100,000 paid over three-fourths (79.8%) of the taxes – or about 5 times their ‘fair share’. I know. That blows your whole dialogue & mindset. Sorry ’bout that. Nice try though.

    • Ryan Marven says:

      The concept of paying taxes is a joke and should be abolished. How about put in 0% tax, period! It wasn’t that long ago people rebelled against the British because of paying taxes and chased revolutionists all the way to the US. People shouldn’t have to pay taxes to support government activities (because many are crooks) and help out the less fortunate (because that is what non profits are for), instead the central banks, along with the blurred lines between regulators like the Fed who are basically one and the same, should pay for the things that our taxes pay for and should pay for those items INTEREST FREE considering how much quantitative easing AKA money printed after 2008, hard workers not matter what their income is should not be taxed. What is mind boggling is that for every single dollar that is printed, an interest value is associated with it. So that means, the only way for interest to be paid off is to print more money to pay for it in a never ending cycle of debt being applied to every single bill that is printed. On top of that we are being taxed. The fact that the Fed gained the ability to peg rates back in the 1950s is a whole other topic to dive into and it is completely against everything the founding fathers fought for!! So when everyone out here is complaining about what tax rates should be then look at this way, the central banking cartel has successfully manipulated you to believe that taxes are a topic of debate while they continue to print money with interest, fund wars with interest, fund major news agencies with interest, fund governments and politicians with interest, while everyone is also taxed on money borrowed with interest!!! I think many people would be surprised to learn how privately owned the Fed is and their ability to remain out of the spotlight. They ARE NOT a government agency they are PRIVATELY OWNED, this is not an opinion, it a fact. My 2 cents, do your best to bend the truth about your taxes and have a tax attorney guide you on how to do it. And don’t feel bad about bending the truth because the government and Fed don’t feel bad about lying to you. Few years ago I blew so much smoke on my tax return I got back over 10k from what was withheld from my W2 during the year. And I’ve been doing that for years now. One time the IRS asked to audit me, between paying my attorney 1200 and giving back 500 I ended up still walking away with 8k that year, and had I not blown smoke on my return I would have ended paying the IRS instead of getting 8k back and 10k each years before and I am still doing it. Being taxed on interest pegged rates by a privately owned organization is going to be written about in history books one day as one of the biggest thefts against mass populations and it would have been something that would last forever if it wasn’t for the internet and the shift from the industrial era into the communication era, the cat is out of the bag now and the 0.1% elites are grasping for straws to keep the truth from getting out. You see giants like Comcast fighting to crush net neutrality and control content on the web!! I could go on forever, the point is, bend the truth on taxes and do your best to pay as little as possible. Or continue to live in the trance that the 0.1% families dating back to the 1700s want you to live in by “doing the right thing and being honest” to the the agencies that steal from you. Debt is a form of control, and control is a form of power. So ask yourself who is really in control on the news and in politics because when recessions happen who do they turn to for help for getting more money during the bad times? Each recession is an opportunistic chance for central banking cartels to gain more control by lending more money.

  55. leul tsegay says:

    tnx for ur information !

  56. Tom Martin says:

    One of the most important consequences of any tax policy are the unintended ones. When any group does not pay any tax or relatively little into the system then they no longer have a vested interest to vote for representatives that work to reduce the tax burden on society as a whole. They actually have a vested interest into getting as much as possible from government because it does not cost them anything-directly or immediately.

  57. Ralph Spyer says:

    It not that the government does not take in enough to run and defend this country ,the problem is when the government builds or buy most goods they get screw.Take the millarity industry complex they can’t build a ship,airplane or tank without a cost over run . The government can’t build a road, or a bridge with out a cost over run. Then you add in Link cards, ( free food). Section eight ( free rent ) free schooling for illegles, or free medical at county hospital it starts to add up. There big money to be made and spent in a war ,look at Iraq or Afganistan add in out trade deals with China and Mexico and that were we are at now. Is it any wonder why Trump is doing so well, the American people who live in the U.S are mad as hell and are not going take it anymore

  58. Their a big reason why Apple and other corporations refuse to bring their hundred of billions of dollars back into United States.

    • Bruce Curtis says:

      You mean the money they made and already paid taxes on outside the country, right. Most other countries don’t tax outside their jurisdiction.

  59. Cub Scout says:

    “Americans don’t much like the federal tax system, a recent Pew Research Center report finds. But it’s not, as you might imagine, because they think they pay too much. Rather, they think people other than themselves don’t pay their fair share.”

    It’s always OTHER people not paying their fair share. It’s never “me”.

    Remember, in general, conservatives want everyone to pay less taxes, while liberals want everyone ELSE to pay more taxes.

    • Anonymous says:

      Your generalization is complete rhetoric. Conservatives don’t want people to pay less taxes. They just give the taxes a different name like registration fee, vehicle inspection fee, drivers license fee, communication fee, transmission fee, etc… It is part of the failed belief that lower taxes leads to an increase in revenue (Laffer curve). Reagan lowered taxes for the rich and all in general and all it has led to is our current national debt and wide income gap. There is no logical reason why people making a low income should have an effective economic burden due to taxation which is higher that those who make more. Reducing taxes on the rich DOES NOT produce more jobs or “trickle down” prosperity to the masses. Demand creates jobs and no employer will create a job if there is no need for one unless it is for a family member. The whole idea of the “tax and spend” liberal is total bunk. You want less national debt? So do liberals. Cutting spending alone will not do it. Cutting social services is cruel and cutting them alone is not enough to balance the budget. Cutting defense and not feeding the Military/Industrial complex will have to be considered as well. Still even if you cut both it will not be enough. There must be an increase in revenue through taxation plus realistic spending cuts to reduce the national debt.

      • Anonymous says:

        Why do you think conservatives are not paying these fees as well?
        Conservatives want everyone to keep as much of their own earnings as possible.

  60. Anonymous says:

    Hi I am housekeeper for a hospital
    I make about 20 , 000 a year I believe that the the most rich people got rich because thay worked hard but I do thank thay are greedy I don’t understand wants the difference between a hard working poor man and a hard work rich man why a rich man doesn’t half to figure a way to feed his family or send them to college or if he/her is going to have enough gas to get back and further to work he doesn’t have to he has enough money still even after taxes. So the rich will always be ok. The? To ask is what is your value worth corporations have forgot what there good employees are worth how many times have you went to a job and the guy that seats on ass half of the time gets payed more then you do but you keep working hard and still never get acknowledged that what hard working poor man gets from rich corporations no where cattle to them thay act like we need them more then thay need us but some point in time the usa economy will collapse and thay will need us then when there poor like us thay will leave good for a litter bit and that’s the truth so hopefully thay will wake up thanks for listening.

    • Anonymous says:

      The difference between unskilled labor (you) vs that exec sitting on his ass half the day is schooling. That little piece of paper makes all the difference in the world. Poverty vs Prosperous. Get an education by any means and you will move up the food chain. Good luck!

  61. Anonymous says:

    After all these years it’s still a work in progress. Personally I would like a flat tax for all.

  62. Eugene Tauber says:

    I’d like to see how the total adjusted gross income of the $250k people compares to the total adjusted gross income of everyone under that threshold.

    • JannelleCT says:

      It won’t matter, they will have to pay AMT (alternative minimum tax) on earned income, so it won’t be apples to apples comparison.

  63. Daniel C says:

    Don’t be fooled by stories that say America has the highest corporate tax rate in the world, corporations pay their lawyers and accountants more than they pay in taxes,,Ted Cruz fan

    • Anonymous says:

      So facts to you don’t matter? The U.S. has the highest corporate tax rate in the world at 39.1% http://www.heritage.org/federalbudget/corporate-tax-rate What is so hard for you to understand something so basic?

      • Richard Rider says:

        The people on the left have mantras to chant. “The rich don’t pay taxes.” “Corporations don’t pay taxes.” Easy to remember — smugly asserted with a dearth of evidence, but that doesn’t matter.

        Liberal don’t play well with facts. It’s unfair for you to present them, you mean old micro-aggressor!

        Next thing you know, you’ll want progressives to look at the online income statements of major corporations, and to note the corporate income tax they are paying — calculating the (gasp!) PERCENT they pay. That’s WAAAAAYYYYY above the math competency level of any reliable progressive.

  64. Anonymous says:

    your chart about who pays the most taxes is misleading, because it doesn’t show that they earn the most income

    maybe something showing what percentage of income each tier pays in taxes would be more informative


  65. Anonymous says:

    It would be more meaningful to show all taxes paid. The income tax is progressive but payroll and most state/local taxes are more regressive. Thus, only showing the income tax distorts the picture by showing the heaviest burden on those with higher incomes whereas the fairer presentation takes into account non-income taxes, which are disproportionately paid by low- to middle-income Americans.

    • Gail Johnson says:

      As someone who filed payroll tax returns for a small business for several years, I totally agree. When you take 15% of wages for FICA and Medicare, a tax analysis of income tax by itself is completely meaningless. Never mind the totally regressive sales tax.

      • Bruce Curtis says:

        You want to know why all taxes aren’t ‘progressive’? It’s basic math really–there are only so many 25 percent chunks you can steal before there’s nothing left.

  66. Dallas Stephens says:

    I see that the chart refers to ‘individual’ income taxes but ‘married, filing jointly’ people aren’t mentioned. I wish the story would have explained that distinction. I also wish the story had lumped all taxes paid (Federal Income Tax, Medicare, Medicaid & Social Security) and then provide a breakdown of how much is paid ‘in total’ by each income-group. Only then can one determine the proportionate burden being born by each quintile. Lastly, I’m totally opposed to the collection of income taxes on any corporate earnings since they provide most of the jobs (and subsequent personal income taxes) in the country. Or, to quote an old saying, taxing businesses is akin to ‘biting the hand that feeds you’.

    • D IsMe says:

      It’s kind of unclear what the article means by “individual” income taxes, but I strongly suspect it’s speaking of taxes that real people pay (whether filed jointing or not) as opposed to corporate income taxes. That’s the parlance — and distinction — tax experts tend to use.

  67. Mike Hihn says:

    This is terrible on facts Corporate income taxes are a smaller share because Republicans have massively increased the number of tax-exempt S Corporations, also called pass-through corporations. Corporate profits are REPORTED on personal returns, even if not one penny of profits is paid out, to avoid what even the IRS describes as the double taxation of corporate profits. Dividends are paid from AFTER-tax profits.

    Originally 10 shareholders, now 100. Plus the newer LLCs are tax exempt with unlimited shareholders This shifted hundreds of billions from corporate income to personal income. entirely on a change in how the income is reported — thereby creating the mirage a income gains by the rich, and shrinking the corporate share of taxes.

    On fairness, I’ll link to IRS data, I’ve been tracking the “core’ middle class for over 20 years, now $40k-$100k gross income. They reported 30.9% of personal income but paid only18.6% of the personal income tax. SOMEBODY subsidizes 40% of their entire tax burden. I wonder who. And they’d need a 64% tax INCREASE to pay their own way.

    Most folks agree with the President that a $50,000 teacher should not pay a higher tax rate … averages 8% …. than millionaires and billionaires, who average 27%. Far right column of the IRS table.


    Power to the sheeple ….

  68. Anonymous says:

    I think the tax should be 90% of everything you earn across the board, no exceptions for anything. That way we could all quit our jobs and collect our benefits from the government and go fishing.

    I’m just kidding

  69. Anonymous says:

    Statistics are so funny. It’s funny how they lump those who make $250,000/yr and those who make $1,000,000,000/yr in the same category. Of course it looks like those making $250,000/yr are screwed because of how the chart is done.

  70. Anonymous says:

    What’s missing from the graphic in this article is average tax rates by income group. When you’re talking about fairness, average tax rates are the key.

    You do compare the average income tax rates of the bottom 60% to those of the top 5%, but that’s an odd selection of both taxes and income groups to consider, and not particularly informative. It does, however, give a biased and overly progressive picture of the total federal tax picture. A glance at the table of average rates at the bottom of the Treasury analysis document you link to, shows that the US federal tax system is very progressive from the bottom to the 60th income percentile ($48k), and considerably less so above that. (Totally ignored is the effect of state and local taxes, some of which are quite regressive.)

    Your analysis instead focuses on the percentage of total tax collections from each income group, which by itself isn’t a useful metric for fairness. What matters for fairness is the share of taxes collected from each income group, compared to that income group’s share of total income. In other words, its average tax rate. The data on average tax rates are in the items you link to. In an article about tax fairness, why didn’t you talk about average rates?

    This article does not effectively address the subject that it claims to address. Instead it emphasizes irrelevant measures that create a biased impression. Whether the reason for this is intentional misdirection or simple incompetence is difficult to tell.

  71. Iriemon 17 says:

    If you are going to consider what is “fair” shouldn’t you consider the entire tax burden and not just a small slice of it?

    Federal income taxes make up only about 25% of all taxes paid. Federal income taxes are progressive, but many other forms of taxation are not.

  72. freäk qnc says:

    Even before pointing out the issue with the data presented one must wonder, how can an article bearing a date of “APRIL 13, 2016” have comments that are 1 year old on April 19, 2016?

    • Bruce Drake says:

      There’s a note at the bottom of the post that explains: “Note: This is an update of an earlier post published March 24, 2015.” The data has been updated but the comments to the earlier post were retained

  73. Richard Rider says:

    Yeah, the U.S. has the highest corporate income tax rate in the civilized world (counting our state corp. income tax), but it’s not enough. It’s NEVER “enough.”

    But wait . . . . Do corporations pay taxes? Or do they primarily COLLECT taxes from their customers in the form of higher prices? Most studies indicate that the latter is the case — business taxes are “pass through” taxes — basically hidden sales taxes that the customers unknowingly pay for.

    • Donald Cole says:

      Yes and the biggest boom in our history in the US. Came when the tax rates were almost 90%. Our economy was lifted out of depression era and launched the technological age. Until Reagan came in with talks of Free trade and trickledown economics. No here we are with American labor, being subsidized by SNAP and TANIF because they are forced to compete with workers in 3rd world economies with 3rd world cost of living. Devaluing the American worker and shifting the burden on them. Allowing tax loopholes have allowed the wealth of this nation to be hijacked by the few, that have no allegiance to the American Labor Force or the nation. Instead we must allow them to extort money or they will simply jump ship. We need to reinstate Tariffs and kick these disloyal leeches OUT of our country.

  74. Anonymous says:

    Many of you simply do not know what ‘fair’ means. To be fair is the same thing as being equitable. As a matter of FACT – being equitable would mean everyone paying the same percent.

    Those of you who are math challenged (as I am), please don’t forget that paying the same percent still means that someone earning more – is in FACT – going to pay more than someone earning less. Example – 10% of 100,000 is $10,000. 10% of $40,000 is $4,000.

    The above is fact. For those of you who think we should pay more in taxes – here is an opinion you might find interesting. Stop thinking about the taxes we pay in terms of percentages and dollars, rather put it into terms of how many months/days out of the year we work to pay taxes… Might change your mind. Any idiot that believes in a 90% tax rate (meaning you work 11 months of the year to pay government) must have skipped the history lessons in school that dealt with slavery!

    • Anonymous says:

      All of what you said is true, until you take into consideration that very basic (but extremely important) economic concept of marginal utility.

      Let’s say you charge everyone a 20% flat tax.

      For someone making $1,000 a month, $200 taken away could mean having to choose between EITHER electricity or food that month. Whilst for someone making $10,000 a month, $2,000 taken away means they’d have to settle for a BMW instead of a Ferrari.

      Every additional dollar you make beyond covering basic needs (food, shelter, etc.) is worth less to you, than to someone who can’t afford food.

      • Anonymous says:

        what you said is one of the reasons we are in the fix we’re in. when we talk about paying tax – what is left over should never enter the conversation – it is irrelevant. we should take care of each other – but that is a separate conversation. my point is fairness in taxes – the way you achieve that is first – ensure everyone pays (if the agreed upon amount is 10% – then you pay a dime if you earn a dollar!), and second – ensure everyone pays the same percent.

    • Anonymous says:

      That is not what “fair” means, and even if it did mean equitable, then in what universe is it equitable to take, by force, something someone else worked for, or created, or improved, and distribute it to another that provided little to no effort in it’s creation. It may be distasteful, it may not be pretty, and we don’t have to like it, but that isn’t exactly “fair” or equitable either.

      • Anonymous says:

        eh – that is exactly what ‘fair’ means – that’s what a dictionary is for – look it up! and I would say it isn’t equitable to redistribute wealth (nor is it constitutional) – but that is what we voters (we the sheeple) have allowed our govt to do.

  75. Tyrone Drawdy says:

    Why do we have to have to compete with each other over every thing? Why does the idea of one person’s work being worth more then another’s exist? How did the concept of being worth more because of sitting in a classroom more develop? All the above lead to the inequities in the world today. All the above allow the haves to control the system. Our devotion to them keeps us in a cage.

    • Charles Davy says:

      Because people’s work isn’t equal. It’s all about supply and demand. Some job positions only have a few qualified candidates and as such those candidates are worth more because of supply and demand.

      Education typically leads to a person’s work being worth more because they become highly specialized and as such can compete for jobs that don’t have enough qualified candidates to meet the demand.

      • Anonymous says:

        well said Charles! school is in session! progressives hate competition

        • Dave Chamberlain says:

          Untrue. We want FAIR competition, or at least equal obstacles.

          • Anonymous says:

            Dave – you’re just not a pure progressive (I mean that as a compliment!). Progressives want everything to be free. If everything is free – no one has to compete. A progressive definition of ‘fair’ competition is one in which everyone wins – but that isn’t real. Take the Sander’s free college bs as an example – everyone that wants to go to college can’t go to Harvard, so how do we decide who goes to Harvard? Do we compete for that education? or do we shut down Harvard because ‘not everyone’ can go there?

          • Colleen Pater says:

            what you want and how the world actually is are different. Progressives have a problem with accepting reality and this is the real left right divide. Nature doesn’t make equal people or provide equal circumstances in which they operate not even identical twins.
            In fact nature is designed to do the exact opposite evolution is designed to cull out the less able and reproduce the more able and as a result as a group we survive changing environments and improve, yes its sad for some individuals but grownups understand.
            Back when I was a liberal the byword was freedom and I was for that somewhere along the line the switch to equality happened. Those two concepts are diametrically opposed, because there is no natural equality synthetic equality comes by taking from one person and giving to another. The left learned simply redistributing wealth didnt sell well in western countries and began to use race then gender and eventually the kitchen sink as special cases that they claimed they were not simply redistributing wealth but righting wrongs. They claimed that since all men are born equal if any end up less equal the only possible explanation is the more equal stole it. They softened this further by being less obvious about the redistribution of wealth by often redistributing proxies easily converted to wealth like jobs political offices college admission slots and guaranteed loans for assets. And they also spun a quasi religious myth around the entire process that alleged saintliness to believers and evil to non believers.Also a campaign to terrorize scientists economists sociologists etc who might challenge the meme that all men are created equal. This case against natural equality is not only as plain as the nose on our face every one of us notices hundreds of times a day these differing abilities but its a humongous body of research that is now identifying specific gene groups for intelligence aggression future time orientation, R/K reproduction strategies, and a million other differences. Any one of these would more than explain what the progressive insists is hatred patriarchy etc. Of course he knows admitting this undermines the entire tabula rasa progressive foundation and would mean the end of the entire project so evry power center of the left contributes to the war Academia art media religion NGOs think tanks civil service and corporations who wish to get along with the progressive power that rules the earth within the us eu and angloshere and its client states.
            But the science is ongoing and the truth will out.In the long run all human will be better off for living in a reality based system but the blind religious zeal of lefties prevents them from seeing this obvious truth.

        • Anonymous says:

          Not really. They love “fairness”.

          Hard to find in nation where the flat-tax rate on upper incomes is “fixed” at 30%. Progressive taxation in upper incomes would bring in a lot more from the top where hilariously high incomes are earned.

          Why should income taxation not be at 90%? It was before LBJ took it down to 70%, and Reagan continued the reckless reduction down to below 30%. See the history of US upper-income taxation here: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Historical_Marginal_Tax_Rate_for_Highest_and_Lowest_Income_Earners.jpg

          • Anonymous says:

            “Why should income taxation not be at 90%?” Because slavery was abolished long ago. Or would you not equate a government taking 90% of what you earn as slavery (or mathematically just 90% a slave).

      • Jennifer M McRaven says:

        If only that’s how it actually worked.

    • Cheryl Florence says:

      Are the skills of a neurosurgeon not worth more than those of a fast food worker? Doesn’t the personal sacrifice made during years and years of college deserve a bigger reward? If it doesn’t, then why would anyone do it?

  76. Anonymous says:

    your website wasnt helpful

  77. Tom Osborne says:

    There are several fallacies in this article. Income taxes are intended as taxes on income, not “per capita” taxes. Thus, a report on total taxes paid by the those at the highest income level and the % of tax returns they account for begs the question: what % of the total INCOME did those highest-income-taxpayers earn? Beyond that, the numbers used are apparently “taxable income” — and most very-high-income people have a multitude of ways to shelter income from being “taxable” in the first place. There is also a problem when “payroll taxes” are segregated out and not counted as income tax for most people, but the “self-employment tax” (which goes into the same Social Security/Medicare pot, and which is at the same rate as “payroll taxes” for those on a payroll) IS counted along with income taxes.

    I don’t know what the numbers would show if these fallacies were corrected for, but I strongly suspect that it would show a very different story.

    • Anonymous says:

      Incorrect. The question that is begged is “How much more Government services (the things that taxes pay for) did those people who paid so much more in income taxes receive?” And that would be, in most cases, the same as, or less than, those who paid far less in taxes. This article points out that 2.7% are paying over half the total income tax burden, yet not getting any more for their extra payments than those who pay nothing. Thus, accusing them of “not paying their fair share” is silly. If I was paying $100,000 in taxes, and not getting any more in Government Services (the things that taxes pay for) than someone who was only paying $5,000 (or less) in taxes, and they told me I wasn’t paying enough even though I was paying 20 times as much as them and not getting any more for it, I would tell them to go F themselves.

      • Anonymous says:

        {This article points out that 2.7% are paying over half the total income tax burden, yet not getting any more for their extra payments than those who pay nothing.}

        A better question is: How much more do they need?

        Had the US a National Heath Service, the lower incomes would benefit from the same health-care as the ultra-rich. Which is the way, for instance, taxation should work were it “fair and equitable”.

        As it does in Europe. You Yanks are lightyears behind the curve …

        • JannelleCT says:

          How much more do they need? Sorry, but didn’t WE earn the money? If I am paying 14K in property tax, I can’t even deduct all of it due to alternative minimum tax. Honestly, getting socked with 80k of medical co-pays and 30k annual college tuition, that 200k doesn’t go so far anymore, does it? At least the poor get college aid and free medical. the middle class is struggling and at least these last few years, so are we.

          • Incog Nitostein says:

            Earn the money? What an interesting idea. What work does a CEO do exactly to EARN 10 million dollars a year?

            I think what you mean is didn’t you (or whoever) manipulate the economy so you could extract wealth from the working class and put it in your pocket. Of course, not everyone that makes over 250k a year is in that boat, but we can’t really say for sure with this data how much of that 51% of the revenue is coming from people making 300k vs 1 million+

            You can’t look at the information here without taking into account the gross inequality that currently exists. Obviously the Rich are paying a huge amount of taxes. They are raking in the money.

  78. Charles Chapman says:

    When the Left says “fair”it usually turns out to mean “,more”in practice!

  79. Anonymous says:

    I think one of the most “fair” things we have in this country are slot machines at casinos. They don’t know or care if the person playing is rich or poor, has won a lot, or lost a lot. There is no advantage given to anyone for any reason. THAT is fair. I imagine one day someone will claim that poor people stand to lose more at a casino, so therefore there need to be machines that only low income people can play, that pay out at a higher rate than those that “rich” people can play.

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