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Tax Day: Our Progressive Tax Code — and Obama's Push to Deny the Facts

3:16 PM, Apr 18, 2011 • By JEFFREY H. ANDERSON
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Those two charts include payroll taxes, most of which are for Social Security, a program that was designed — more or less — for people to pay in for themselves. Beyond their own Social Security contributions, however, a great many people are not contributing much at all to the wider pool of funds that are used to “provide for the common Defence and general Welfare of the United States.” The following chart shows the effective tax rates that average households in each quintile pay in income tax alone (as opposed to in all federal taxes):

For the bottom two quintiles, as the chart shows, income tax is not someone that you pay but which you are paid; it’s a source of income. Meanwhile, people in the top two quintiles pay 99 percent of the nation’s total income taxes. Of that 99 percent, 86 percent is paid by the top quintile alone, and 40 percent is paid by the top 1 percent alone (more than double the top 1 percent’s 19 percent share of income earned). To put it otherwise, the top two quintiles make 3 times as much money as the bottom three quintiles, yet they pay 75 times as much money in income taxes (98.7 percent to 1.3 percent of the overall tab), as the following chart demonstrates:

In sum, our tax code is clearly, undeniably, progressive — and it has gotten significantly more so over the past quarter-century. People can argue about whether that is good or bad, but they shouldn’t pretend it is otherwise.

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