[FoRK] Re: Limeys can't comprehend US tax law? ;-)
<jbone at place.org> on
Fri Apr 25 13:06:31 PDT 2008
On Apr 25, 2008, at 2:17 PM, bill stoddard wrote:
> Humm..... "1% of the country pays 33% of the bill". Not exactly
> sure why the statement makes you go hyperbolic... guess I'm an idiot
> because I don't see enough information in the statement to know
> whether it's fair or not. What % do you think is fair?
Cf. discussion of "fairness" in the context of taxation on FoRK circa
10 years or so ago, where I thrashed around with several formal models
of the "fair tax" proposal and concluded among other things that for
several reasonable definitions of fair you could clearly argue that
flat or consumption taxes were (or weren't, depending on the
formulation) "fair." Note that that doesn't necessarily mean the
present form of progressive taxation is fair for any reasonable
definition of fair, though. "Fair" isn't an easy concept.
I would say, though, that even IF you favor a progressive system on
the notion that it's more "fair," then even so it's reasonable to
expect that there should be parity in the total fraction of the wealth
owned by one group of taxpayers and the total amount of the tax burden
shouldered. I.e., even most progressives don't think tax should be
*punitive* of wealth, therefore most progressives should agree that
the total amount of the tax burden you shoulder should match the total
amount of the wealth you've got.
If you buy that, then you can clearly see that the present system is
generally "fair" but specifically (though not greatly) unfair both at
the top *and* the bottom. From the numbers I posted yesterday from
the top 1% pay 36.9% of federal tax (wealth 32.7%)
the bottom 50% pay 3.3% (wealth 2.8%)
As you can see, both the top 1% and the bottom 50% pay a greater
portion of the taxes than they own of the wealth, though it's more
significant in the former case. (The above data notwithstanding,
Kevin's comments about the bill being "gone" by the time you get to
the bottom 50 is approximately correct anyway, as 3.3% is essentially
And that's if you buy into the desirability and "fairness" of
progressive taxation in the first place.
Net-net, most folks who favor progressive taxation today should more
or less be happy with the present system. Those who feel that the
system should be even *more* progressive are, IMHO, just being assholes.
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