Over the last several months, President Barack Obama, Democrats, and Occupy Wall Street have told us that higher-income earners must pay more in taxes. They say that this is about “fairness” and “income inequality.” They may soon get their wish if Obama and Senate Democrats don’t take action to extend the 2001 and 2003 tax cuts. Failure to act would, as the Congressional Budget Office recently noted, cause another recession.
But do the rich get a pass on taxes? Not according to Mark J. Perry, who has crunched the numbers and produced this chart (below) showing that the top 400 taxpayers paid nearly as much in federal income taxes than the bottom 50% of income earners.
Here’s Perry’s conclusion:
A small group of 400 of America’s most successful earners in 2009, about the number of residents living in a typical apartment building in Washington, D.C., paid almost as much in federal income taxes as the entire bottom half of America’s 138 million tax filers, which is a population equivalent to the combined number of residents living in America’s 29 least populated states, plus the District of Columbia. What makes this disparity possible is the fact that an estimated 47% of individual income tax returns filed in 2009 had a zero or negative tax liability.
And the chart: