Despite conventional wisdom that the Bush-era taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. cuts disproportionately benefited the wealthy, the reality is that the tax burden on the bottom 99 percent has been falling for more than two decades. Indeed, the average tax rateThe average tax rate is the total tax paid divided by taxable income. While marginal tax rates show the amount of tax paid on the next dollar earned, average tax rates show the overall share of income paid in taxes. for the bottom 99 percent of taxpayers is now below 10 percent—well below the average for all taxpayers—thanks to years of targeted tax cuts aimed at the middle class. Meanwhile, the top 1 percent of taxpayers still pays an effective tax rate that is roughly twice the average for all taxpayers.
For more charts like the one below, see the second edition of our chart book, Putting a Face on America's Tax Returns.Share