Tax Burden of Wealthiest Twice Their Share of Income

April 14, 2010

Tomorrow is Tax Day, April 15th, and if the 2009 filing season plays out as did 2008, the wealthiest Americans will continue to pay a disproportionate share of the nation's income tax burden.

The IRS recently released preliminary data for 2008 which showed that taxpayers earning less than $100,000 collectively earned roughly half the Adjusted Gross Income (AGI) that year, but paid 25 percent of the income taxes. Meanwhile, taxpayers earning more than $250,000 paid close to half (46 percent) of the income taxes collected while they earned roughly a quarter of the total AGI.

While there is a general consensus in America that people who earn more should pay more in income taxes, the fact that the wealthy bear nearly twice the income tax burden as their share of the nation's income should raise some eyebrows. Speaking of paying your "fair share," is it right that the tax burden of those earning less than $100,000 is about half of their share of the nation's income?

As we have shown here before http://www.taxfoundation.org/legacy/show/25965.html, lawmakers' attempts to help the middle class have knocked a record 52 million taxpayers off the tax rolls. A family of four earning up to $52,000 will pay no income taxes because of the generosity of the credits and deductions currently in the tax code.

The discussion the nation should be having is at what point does this disparity between payers and non-payers become unsustainable?


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