Debunked: “The Rich Don’t Pay Their Fair Share”

Here’s a great bar chart that shows who paid most of the costs of government. It divides Americans into five groups – quintiles – according to their income levels.

The [accompanying] chart … is based on data in the recently-released CBO report “Distribution of Household Income and Federal Taxes, 2008 and 2009,” [PDF] showing the share of federal income taxes paid by income group in 2009. In 2009, almost all (94.1%) federal income taxes collected were paid by just one-fifth of Americans (top quintile) and the top 1% paid almost 39% of all taxes collected. In contrast, the lowest and second quintiles were net “tax collectors” because that 40% of Americans received more in refundable tax credits than they paid in income taxes.”

There are actually six bars. The sixth is informational. It explains that about 39% of the top quintile’s taxes were paid by the top 1% of earners.

Note also that the bottom two quintiles, 40% of Americans, pay less than zero tax.

From Doug Ross.

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18 Responses to Debunked: “The Rich Don’t Pay Their Fair Share”

  1. Glen Hackney says:

    This is a common fallacy of the right and a misuse of statistics. It seems like the rich pay most of the taxes and the poor pay less than nothing but if you were to break it down by disposable income (income not used to pay for necessities) the numbers are astronomically unbalanced. 85% of disposable income is in that top 1% of population and they also have 95% of the wealth. This is a misuse of statistics because if you were to break it down by .1% points rather than quintile you would see that the vast portion of that tax burden is paid by the bottom 10% of the top 1% and the majority of the income represented in the top 1% is made by the Top10% of the top 1% This also fails to take account of the benefits of that federal spending, the majority of which directly goes to the top 10% and that doesn’t take into account that the rich live longer and have an easier time being happy (all other things being equal). Your analysis also fails to distinguish the externality cost of the creation of much of that wealth (like Wal-Mart employees being on food stamps and Medicaid because they do not make a living wage or the increase in the cost to have healthcare for our society due to pollution, being overworked, and not having preventative healthcare, which are effectively ways for the wealthy to take money from our treasury and convert it to private wealth). I am pretty sure that you don’t care about the truth; I have not met many conservatives who do, but if by chance you are intellectually honest you might want to correct your article or make a note about your conclusions being based on a false reading (or simple minded and unsophisticated understanding) of the statistics involved. I am not trying to be a jerk but you are making false statements, the perception of which, have real impact on the world and people’s lives. To give you some background I am a 31yr old, once & still married, father of a two year old son and full time worker (and small business owner) in the top 10% of income earners. I have undergrad degrees in Economics/Quantitative Analysis and Sociology, with an emphasis on Political Economy and Industrial Organization from a public university and I am working on a CFA to become a financial analyst/money manager. A disclaimer that the numbers above are my best recollection and may not be exactly correct but they are correct enough that my points would not be altered or disproven by their correction.

  2. R.D. Walker says:

    First off Glen, paragraphs: Look into them.

    “It seems like the rich pay most of the taxes…”

    It doesn’t just “seem like it”, sport, they do.

    The highest quintile of earners pay more than the other four combined. That is a fact Glen. It isn’t open to dispute. They pay – by far – the most.

    Nowhere in Jim’s post did he make a claim as to the percentage of disposable income paid by anyone. That is a different topic and based on the extremely subjective definition of the word “fair.”

    Here’s the thing, Glen. You can’t prove or disprove “fairness” with statistics. In fact, most of your comment is a dog’s breakfast of leftist opinion as to what is fair and what isn’t. Again, “fair” can’t be proven with statistics because, clearly, I don’t see fairness in the same way you see it.

    “I am pretty sure that you don’t care about the truth; I have not met many conservatives who do, but if by chance you are intellectually honest you might want to correct your article…”

    Oh, I care about the truth and I am intellectually honest. Are you? Or are you going to continue to insist that your subjective opinion as to what is and isn’t fair can be statistically defined?

    If so, you should probably see if you can get a refund on that education you evidently like to boast about. You got screwed.

    Now, Jim also mentioned what is “fair” in his subject line so I will cut you some slack. If you want to debate what does and doesn’t constitute “fairness” and how it impacts the way we organize society and you will do it with attention to the truth and intellectual honesty, c’mon back. I am up for it.

  3. notamobster says:

    Did they teach you about paragraphs in that fancy school of yours?

    They should have told you that taxes and disposable income are not the same thing, during your economics education. I was educated in economics at the Nota School of Finance and my instructor pointed out that in point-of-fact:

    “It seems like the rich pay most of the taxes and the poor pay less than nothing” because that is objective reality.

    You’re comparing apples & orange sports cars. Your argument is the typical class-war tripe of petulant leftist do-gooders who would seize the wealth of producers to subsidize the poor life choices and instant gratification of those who (you say) have less disposable income.

    You wanna talk real numbers, fucko? Let’s talk about how I can work my ass off (70hrs a week) to provide for my family, so that a welfare ‘cipient with the same sized family can take home $60k in annual “assistance”.

    That same ‘cipient can make up to $29K annually and still qualify for means-tested welfare assistance. If the ‘cipient’s housing, medicine, phone, food, and internet are paid for – that leaves them a considerable amount of ‘disposable income’.

    Fuck off and try to sell your mindless bullshit to the mouth-breathing retards who will believe you. I’m referring to the lazy, unintelligent, and envious…

    Democrats, basically.

  4. notamobster says:

    I wanna be a paid troll. Anyone know where I can get a job as a paid internet troll?

  5. R.D. Walker says:

    Here are some other items for which lower income people must pay a higher percentage of disposable income compared to the wealthy.

      -Household Goods
      -Health Care

    Did I leave anything out?

    You know Glen, I think you have made an important discovery. People with lower incomes pay a higher percentage of their income for goods and services than those with greater incomes pay for the same goods and services.

    You should publish your findings.

  6. jacksonsdad says:

    Meanwhile the ‘progressive’ definition of “Their Fair Share” of income taxes creeps steadily toward 100%.

  7. rj says:

    @ RD ” if so you should look into gettina a refund… got screwed…hahahaha

    RD I absolutely love it when you put such a perfectly executed smack down on lefty trolls makes my day…

    Your excellent use of the art of verbal judo is priceless, I bet you could have idiots at lefty sights ready to explode if you put your mind to it…

  8. fubar says:

    >>>>or the increase in the cost to have healthcare for our society due to pollution, being overworked, and not having preventative healthcare, which are effectively ways for the wealthy to take money from our treasury and convert it to private wealth.



  9. R.D. Walker says:

    The moonbat definition of fair is equality of outcome regardless of various degrees of effort, skill, merit, thrift, delayed gratification, responsibility, thought or industry.

    The world won’t be fair until the EEOC ensures that short, clumsy, fat, middle aged women are hired to play in the NBA in numbers proportionate to their representation in the general population. We obviously must stop discriminating against the lazy and incompetent.

  10. rj says:

    It must suck to be a visiting troll on The Revo…

  11. notamobster says:

    Most don’t stick around. The one’s who do, usually turn out to have mental problems. I’m talking to you, Lyun.

  12. Marlin Savage says:

    R.D. Walker, You must not know or observe any low income families. A family of 4 would have to make $62,000 per year to live as well as they live on welfare or government subsidies for low income(state where I reside).

    Most of the items You mentioned that low income people pay more for, they actually receive for free or next to nothing. This includes low income people who receive housing subsidies, foodstamps, free healthcare, etc.

  13. jacksonsdad says:

    Yup RD. Can’t wait to finally reach that hallowed ground known as Equality Of Outcome (aka “Universal Suck”).

  14. R.D. Walker says:

    The other thing Glen is doing in order to claim that the poor pay a higher percentage of their income in taxes is to include Social Security and Medicare payroll deductions as taxes.

    He is right to do so, they are taxes. The left, however, wants to have it both ways. Later on, Glen will undoubtedly insist that SS and Medicare aren’t welfare. He will argue they are defined contribution benefit plans. He will argue that they are entitlements that are owed to recipients because of the payments they have made. In other words, he will claim they aren’t taxes at all but some kind of pension plan workers proudly invest in for later benefit.

    See, he will argue that they are taxes when it is convenient and then, later he will argue that they are taxes at all, they are retirement account contributions.

    The reality is that looking just a federal income taxes, about half the population pay nothing at all. When you toss in the earned income tax credit, they actually pay negative taxes.

  15. jacksonsdad says:

    Read it again Marlin… pay particular attention to “higher percentage of their income”. RD is making a great point going back to Glen’s post… try to grasp it.

    We all know about the subsidies and the gulf between work and welfare. There was a great post on it just recently. I’ll see if i can find it. Meanwhile… read what is written.

  16. R.D. Walker says:

    I know Marlin, that fact somewhat muddled my point, however.

    The point I was trying to make was that it is an exercise in the ridiculously obvious to observe that if you have $10 and I have $100, you are going to pay a higher percentage of your available funds for, say, a draw of Budweiser than I will.

    Therefore, we will file Glen’s observation under “Duh”.

    To your point, however, most of the poor are subsidized for many or most of the items I listed. Even a multi-millionaire pays a higher percentage of his income for a cell phone than does a recipient of a free Obamaphone.

    We spend a trillion dollars a year on means tested welfare, the lower half of earners don’t pay a nickel of federal income taxes and Glen still wants to tell us that the poor are getting screwed. Why? Because, if they are working, they have to contribute something toward their own retirement or potential disability.

  17. notamobster says:

    Only in America, do the poor die from obesity related diseases.