A very small number of taxpayers -- the 10% of the country that makes more than $92,400 a year -- pay 72.4% of the nation's income taxes. They're the tip of the triangle that's supporting virtually everyone and everything. Their burden keeps getting heavier.
As a result of the 2001 tax cuts enacted by a bipartisan Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, the share of taxes paid by the top 10% increased to 72.8% in 2005 from 67.8% in 2001, according to the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
...Mr. Obama is adding to this trend with his "Make Work Pay" tax cut that means almost 50% of the country will no longer pay any income taxes, up from a little over 40% today. A certain amount of income redistribution in a capitalistic society is healthy, but this goes too far. The economic and moral problem is that when 50% of the country gets benefits without paying for them and an increasingly smaller number of taxpayers foot the bill, the spinning triangle will no longer be able to support itself. Eventually, it will spin so slowly that it falls down, especially when the economy is contracting and the number of wealthy taxpayers is in sharp decline.
Higher-income groups pay a disproportionate share of federal taxes because they earn a disproportionate share of pretax income and because effective tax rates rise with income. In 2006, the highest quintile earned 55.7 percent of pretax income and paid 69.3 percent of federal taxes, while the top 1 percent of households earned 18.8 percent of income and paid 28.3 percent of taxes. In all other quintiles, the share of federal taxes was less than the income share. The bottom quintile earned 3.9 percent of income and paid 0.8 percent of taxes, while the middle quintile earned 13.2 percent of income and paid 9.1 percent of taxes.
Much of the progressivity of the federal tax system derives from the individual income tax. In 2006, the bottom quintile�s effective rate for the individual income tax was -6.6 percent, which is to say that refundable earned income and child tax credits exceeded the income tax owed by that group. On average, households in the second quintile also received more in credits than they paid in individual income taxes. The average effective income tax rate was 3.0 percent for the middle quintile and 6.0 percent for the fourth quintile. For the highest quintile, the rate was 14.0 percent. The top percentile, on average, paid 19.0 percent of their income in individual income taxes.