About that “Fair Share”

About that “Fair Share” by Simon Black

There are two words that kept coming up over and over again over the last 20+ months during the US Presidential circus: “fair share”.

Hardly a day went by without hearing that certain taxpayers “need to pay more of their fair share.”

It sounds really great, and given the voter statistics, this idea resonated with tens of millions of people. After all, who could possibly be against fairness?

When you dive into the numbers, however, the data doesn’t support this assertion at all.

According to IRS figures, households that earn more than $1 million annually, roughly 0.4% of all taxpayers, pay a total of $364 billion in federal income tax.

This amounts to roughly 27% of all the US federal individual income tax that’s collected.

So in other words, the top 0.4%, pays 27% of the total tax bill.

If you extend this analysis to the upper middle class, i.e. the top 24.5% of households earning more than $100,000 per year, the numbers are even more dramatic.

(Bear in mind this includes two spouses earning $50,000 each.)

This group of households earning between $100,000 up to $1 million contributes 50.4% of all US federal individual income tax.

Combined, the two groups, which comprise the top 25% of US taxpayers, pay nearly 80% of the total tax bill.

(In case you’re wondering, the bottom 50% of income earners contributes less than 5% to the total tax bill.)

This isn’t intended to be a slight against any income group; rather, I’m honestly wondering exactly how much these people consider to be “fair”?

Because it’s not intuitively obvious to me that sticking 25% of the people with 80% of the bill is “unfair.”

Now, the common refrain from the “fair share” crowd is that taxes go to fund our roads, schools, police departments, fire fighters, etc., and that rich people can afford to pay more.

But there’s a big problem with this logic.

All the benefits that people cite, from fire fighters to public schools, are typically funded at the state and local level… and paid for with state and local taxes. NOT federal tax.

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