by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Out of 147 million IRS tax filers in 2018, just 0.3% (about 500,000) had incomes above $1 million. These earners and families made 17% of all taxable income in 2018 (just shy of $1.5 trillion) and paid 28.6% of all income taxes. That is significantly more than they would pay in a strictly proportional system, and of course, it doesn’t count state or local income taxes or the business taxes that high earners often pay.
Meanwhile, the 85 million filers at the bottom of the pay scale faced a justly and reasonably lower tax bill. Those reporting incomes of $50,000 or less (more than half of all filers) shouldered just 5.5% of the nation’s total income tax bill.
This goes to show that the United States has a tax system that favors those with lower incomes and demands a fair share, by any reasonable definition, from millionaires and billionaires. But it demonstrates much more than that. It also shows once again that there is no way, through merely raising taxes on the richest of the rich, that anyone could ever hope to fund a massive government medical system or an environmental transformation of the economy. …
… The bottom line in the IRS numbers is that Bernie Sanders is right when he says he has no idea how much his plans would cost. To be more accurate still, he really has no conception of the federal budget overall or the national tax base. His plans would require much higher taxes on middle-income and even lower-income earners. This idea of the poor paying more in taxes is, in fact, characteristic of the European social democracies that Sanders constantly extols, although he never seems to want to bring that part up.