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About All That Blood in the Proverbial Turnip

When asked how they plan to pay for their many promises, several of the Democrat candidates for presidents suggest they’ll pay for those benefits by ‘taxing the rich.’ Before figuring out who they are, perhaps we should look first at how much “the rich” earn and pay in federal income taxes. You may be surprised.

The Tax Foundation released a study today that looks at the latest IRS data on individual income taxes for 2005. Here is that highlight from the report:

“This year's numbers show that both the income share earned by the top 1 percent and the tax share paid by the top 1 percent have reached all-time highs. In 2005, the top 1 percent of tax returns paid 39.4 percent of all federal individual income taxes and earned 21.2 percent of adjusted gross income, both of which are significantly higher than 2004 when the top 1 percent earned 19 percent of AGI and paid 36.9 percent of federal individual income taxes.

“The IRS data also shows increases in individual incomes across all income groups (see Table 3). Just as the highest earners lost the biggest percentage of their incomes during the recession of 2001, so they have prospered the most as the economy has continued to rebound. For example, from 2000 to 2002, the adjusted gross income (AGI) of the top 1 percent of tax returns fell by over 26 percent. In that same period, the AGI of the bottom 50 percent of tax returns actually increased by 4.3 percent. However, since 2002, as the recession has ended, AGI has risen by 61 percent for the top 1 percent and 10.7 percent for the bottom 50 percent.

“In sum, between 2000 and 2005, pre-tax income for the top 1 percent group grew by 19.1 percent. On the other hand, in that same time period, pre-tax income for the bottom 50 percent increased by 15.5 percent.”

What about the top 25 percent of income earners? The Tax Foundation says:

“The top-earning 25 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $62,068) earned 67.5 percent of the nation's income, but they paid more than four out of every five dollars collected by the federal income tax (86 percent). The top 1 percent of taxpayers (AGI over $364,657) earned approximately 21.2 percent of the nation's income (as defined by AGI), yet paid 39.4 percent of all federal income taxes. That means the top 1 percent of tax returns paid about the same amount of federal individual income taxes as the bottom 95 percent of tax returns.”

Remember your Mother telling you that you can’t get blood out of a turnip? Well, believe her and not the politicians!


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