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Tax Burden of the Wealthy Continues to Grow

Share Paid by Lower-income Earners Falls


Updated July 29, 2008
In 2006, the top 5% of U.S. taxpayers, those with gross annual incomes of at least $153,500, paid about 60% of all income tax collected. In contrast, the 50% of taxpayers with incomes under $32,000, paid less than 3% of the total taxes collected. Taxpayers in the top 1%, those with incomes of $388,800 or more, paid almost 40% of all taxes collected.

The 40% of all federal taxes paid by the wealthiest 1% of Americans represents the highest percentage of all taxes they have paid since 1986, according to a July 21, 2008 report (.pdf) issued by the Joint Economic Committee (JEC).

What do those numbers mean?
That the federal tax burden of the wealthiest Americans keeps growing, while those with lower incomes continue to pay less.

"The latest IRS data show that the share of the income tax burden borne by the top half of tax filers continues to rise and now stands at 97.01 percent," said JEC ranking Republican member Rep. Jim Saxton in a press release. “The tax shares of the top 1, 5, and 10 percent of taxpayers ranked by income are the highest in many years. The share of the bottom half of tax filers has fallen to a level of 2.99 percent."

Of course, this news from the JEC must be weighed against the unavoidable fact that the real effect of any amount of federal tax on the lives of individuals or families with annual incomes under $32,000 will typically be far greater than it is on those making more than $153,500.

About the Joint Economic Committee
The Joint Economic Committee is a bicameral congressional committee composed of ten members from each the Senate and the House of Representatives. There are twelve Democrats and eight Republicans on the Committee. The JEC was established by the Employment Act of 1946. Its main purpose is to make a continuing study of matters relating to the US economy. The JEC holds hearings, performs research and advises members of Congress.

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