Williams: What Is the Fair Share of Taxes?

Williams: What Is the Fair Share of Taxes?

March 2, 2016

Politicians seeking election often solicit votes by offering goods or services with the promise that someone else will pay for them.  That these "free" things might not be financially feasible is a sign, not that the promises are impossible, but that the "rich" are too greedy.  In the media or on the campaign trail voters hear how "the rich" need to pay their "fair share."  Rhetoric about "millionaires and billionaires" creates an impression that the wealthy pay few, if any, taxes.  As has been often said, it really is true that a lie gets halfway around the world while the truth is still putting on its boots.  In a new piece, Walter Williams lays out what is so often overlooked in our political discourse-facts. 

The top 1 percent, 1.37 million taxpayers earning $434,682 and more, paid 38 percent of all federal income taxes. The top 5 percent, those earning $175,817 and more, paid 59 percent. The top 10 percent of income earners, those earning $125,195 and up, paid 70 percent of all federal income taxes.

The top 25 percent, those earning $73,354 and up, paid 86 percent. The bottom 50 percent, people earning $36,055 and less, paid a little less than 3 percent of federal income taxes. According to estimates by the Tax Policy Center, slightly over 45 percent of American households have no federal income tax liability.
With this information in hand, you might ask the next person who says the rich do not pay their fair share of taxes: Exactly what percentage of total federal income taxes should the 1-percenters pay? I seriously doubt whether you will get any kind of coherent answer. 

One may be surprised that the truth of tax revenues is so far from the rhetoric, until it is realized that this lie is very effective at securing votes.  Americans of all backgrounds should seek politicians who unite us in a message of opportunity for all, rather than divide us against one another for their own cynical gain.

It's Time for an American Encore