Top 20 Percent Pay 68 Percent in Taxes

But account for about half of all income in the U.S.


To what extent do US federal taxes redistribute wealth? That's a question that comes up because "redistribution" is a hot word in American politics at the moment. Republicans in recent days have been brandishing a newly released 1998 tape on which then-state Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois endorses the concept of government redistributing wealth from one group to another.

"I actually believe in redistribution, at least at a certain level, to make sure that everybody's got a shot," says Mr. Obama on the 14-year old recording.

Yes, the GOP is pushing this to counter that video of Mitt Romney saying that 47 percent of Americans believe they are "victims" entitled to government aid. Yes, as our colleague Liz Marlantes notes, Mr. Romney supports some level of redistribution himself – unless he wants to end Medicare, Medicaid, Social Security, and other transfer programs, as well as progressive taxation.