Total Tax Burdens: Rising on the Richer, Falling on the Poorer


Some thought Rand Paul was being tricky on David Letterman last week in merely discussing the share the wealthy pay of income tax. David Henderson at the EconLog takes a look at the distribution of total federal taxes by via Congressional Budget Office data and finds:

The bottom quintile paid 4.3 percent of income in taxes,
. The top quintile paid 25.8 percent of income in taxes,
. The top decile paid 27.5 percent of income in taxes,
. The top 5 percent paid 29.0 percent of income in taxes, and
. The top 1 percent paid 31.2 percent of income in taxes.

That's about percentage of income paid; when it comes to overall burden, the rich have continued to pay more over the past decades as well, as per this CBO chart, which shows "Share of Total Federal Tax Liabilities" by household from 1979, when the top 1 percent paid 15.4 percent, to 2006, when they paid 28.3 percent.

The same 79-2006 comparisons for top 5 percent: 29.6 to 44.7; and for top 10 percent, 40.7 to 55.4.

For the lowest quintile of earners in the U.S., that share of total federal tax liabilities has fallen from 2.1 percent in 1979 to 0.8 percent in 2006.