The Facts About Who Pays the Most in Taxes in America

Most of us already know these facts, but it never hurts to hear them again, and share them with your friends and relatives who only watch CNN and NBC.

Walter Williams is a professor of economics at George Mason University, and these are his words today in The Daily Signal.

Politicians exploit public ignorance. Few areas of public ignorance provide as many opportunities for political demagoguery as taxation.

Today some politicians argue that the rich must pay their fair share and label the proposed changes in tax law as tax cuts for the rich.

Let’s look at who pays what, with an eye toward attempting to answer this question: Are the rich paying their fair share?

According to the latest IRS data, the payment of income taxes is as follows.

The top 1 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted annual gross income of $480,930 or higher, pay about 39 percent of federal income taxes. That means about 892,000 Americans are stuck with paying 39 percent of all federal taxes.

The top 10 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income over $138,031, pay about 70.6 percent of federal income taxes.

About 1.7 million Americans, less than 1 percent of our population, pay 70.6 percent of federal income taxes. Is that fair, or do you think they should pay more?

By the way, earning $500,000 a year doesn’t make one rich. It’s not even yacht money.

But the fairness question goes further. The bottom 50 percent of income earners, those having an adjusted gross income of $39,275 or less, pay 2.83 percent of federal income taxes.

Thirty-seven million tax filers have no tax obligation at all. The Tax Policy Center estimates that 45.5 percent of households will not pay federal income tax this year.

There’s a severe political problem of so many Americans not having any skin in the game. These Americans become natural constituencies for big-spending politicians. After all, if you don’t pay federal taxes, what do you care about big spending?

Also, if you don’t pay federal taxes, why should you be happy about a tax cut? What’s in it for you? In fact, you might see tax cuts as threatening your handout programs.

Our nation has a 38.91 percent tax on corporate earnings, the fourth-highest in the world. The House of Representatives has proposed that it be cut to 20 percent—some members of Congress call for a 15 percent rate.

The nation’s political hustlers object, saying corporations should pay their fair share of taxes. The fact of the matter—which even leftist economists understand, though they might not publicly admit it—is corporations do not pay taxes.

An important subject area in economics is called tax incidence. It holds that the entity upon whom a tax is levied does not necessarily bear its full burden. Some of it can be shifted to another party.

If a tax is levied on a corporation, it will have one of four responses or some combination thereof. It will raise the price of its product, lower dividends, cut salaries, or lay off workers. In each case, a flesh-and-blood person bears the tax burden.

The important point is that corporations are legal fictions and as such do not pay taxes. Corporations are merely tax collectors for the government.

More at

Daily Signal

National Taxpayers Union


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6 Responses to The Facts About Who Pays the Most in Taxes in America

  1. John Denney says:

    Dividends paid to shareholders should be excluded from a corporation’s taxable income.

    Say Granny owns 20,000 shares of XYZ corp that earned a dollar per share for the year. Her income from those dividends would be $20,000. If that were her sole income, she would be below the poverty line and pay no personal income tax. But if the company is taxed first at 35% of that $1 per share, her income drops to $13,000. Even though she is poverty stricken, she’s effectively paying 35% income tax.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Sharon says:

      I thought the poverty line for an individual was $12,000 something?

      Liked by 1 person

      • Sharon says:

        And yes – dividends paid to shareholders should not be taxed. I’m sick of the assumption that corporations can always be bashed for one more round – – – – why don’t the congress critters ever spend less???????????????????????????

        My gross income is just over $20,000 a year, and hard-fixed expenses (before vehicle gas and groceries, car repairs, dental bills, etc. etc) are $1550.

        Liked by 2 people

      • Col(R)Ken says:

        Sharon, I do agree….. our thieves, elected thieves will never spend less when feeding at the publis trough …….

        Liked by 1 person

      • John Denney says:

        The numbers were just made up hypotheticals to illustrate the point in fairly round numbers.


  2. glendl says:

    Thanks Stella,
    Another writing by Walter Williams stated that the Great Society programs have cost the American taxpayer $23 Trillion dollars since 1965.


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