By John McClaughry
Sen. Bernie Sanders has made a career out of claiming that rich people aren’t paying their fair share of income taxes. But I don’t ever recall Bernie actually citing federal income tax data to back up his charges.
Last year the Tax Foundation’s Erica York published some real data from the Internal Revenue Service.
“Since 2001, the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 1 percent increased from 33.2 percent to a new high of 40.1 percent in 2018.”
I can remember explaining 30 years ago that the Reagan tax rate cuts of 1981 that Bernie so despised resulted in the top 10 percent shouldering far more of the income tax burden than it had up to that time.
The Tax Foundation reported that in 2018, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97.1 percent of all individual income taxes, while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 2.9 percent. York didn’t give data for the bottom 40 percent, but I’m willing to bet that they together paid zero percent of federal income taxes.
The top 1 percent of federal income taxpayers paid a greater share of individual income taxes (40.1 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (28.6 percent).
You probably won’t remember all those percentages, but take it from me: the rich have paid steadily more of federal income tax revenues over the past 40 years, and the bottom half are now paying almost nothing.
John McClaughry is vice president of the Ethan Allen Institute. Reprinted with permission from the Ethan Allen Institute Blog.