August 19, 2009
I’ve been looking for an outlet to keep my clients informed about the numerous issues that impact their financial lives. Here it is, the TNL Asset Management Blog.
My first entry is to educate those about the progressive U.S. tax system by highlighting some little known statistics. But first, a caveat. I’m not philosophically against a progressive – the more you make the higher percentage you pay – system. I’m simply tired of Congressman, Congresswomen, and political gas bags claiming that they want to give “average” Americans a “tax break”. Focus in on “tax break” because that’s the focus of my rant.
In order to get a tax break, one must first pay taxes. According to 2007 data, the latest available from the IRS, one-third of filers pay no – that’s zero, zilch, nada – personal income tax. One-third! The bottom 50% of earners with an adjusted gross income (AGI) of $33,000 have an average tax rate of just 3%. The top 1% have an average tax rate of 22%.
The other end of the spectrum – dealing with the so-called rich – provides even more confounding stats. The top 1%, those families with annual incomes above $410,000, pay 40% of all the personal income taxes. That’s $4 of every $10 collected by the IRS for personal income taxes paid by 1% of the families. Add in the next 4% of income earners – those with more than $160,000 in annual income – and you’ve sequestered the payers of 60% of all personal income taxes in America. Put another way, the top 5% pay nearly two-thirds of the personal income taxes in this country.
Just to cap off my IRS Statistics class, chew on this next time your contemplating a tax the rich plan, the top 1% of American families pay more than the bottom 95%. Increasing the burden on the wealthy to support the rest of the country may seem “fair” to some – especially since their numbers are so small and they receive little sympathy from the less fortunate – but based on the facts above, can we really keep demanding so few bear so much of our fiscal responsibility.
So next time you read about a plan to raise the top marginal tax rate or slap a surtax on those making over X amount of dollars, remember who pays for your defense and who funds your infrastructure.