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Top 1% of American taxpayers pay almost as much in taxes as bottom 95%, and half of that group paid nothing in 2010

According to new IRS data, the 1.35 million taxpayers that represent the highest-earning one percent of the Americans who filed federal income tax returns in 2010 earned 18.9% of the total gross income and paid 37.4% of all federal income taxes paid in that year.  In contrast, the 128.3 million taxpayers in the bottom 95% of all U.S. taxpayers in 2010 earned 66.2% of gross income and that group paid 40.9% of all taxes paid. In other words, the top 1 percent (1.35 million) of American taxpayers paid almost as much federal income tax in 2010 ($354.8 billion) as the entire bottom 95% of American tax filers ($388.4 billion), see chart above. And it’s that group of top income earners (with income above $221,000 in 2010 to be in the top one percent), that Obama and the Democrats want to tax even more.

Further, there were more than 58 million Americans in 2010 who had tax returns with a zero or negative tax liability, so about half of the bottom 95% of American “taxpayers” paid nothing or got a tax refund.

With those data in mind, consider Nolan Finley’s column in the Detroit News comparing paying for milk and paying for taxes, based on an analysis a reader (corporate lawyer Jon Taub) provided:

If every U.S. taxpayer purchased a gallon of milk, each person would pay $2.49, and the total cost would be 140.5 million times $2.49 — or $349 million.

Now let’s assume the government treated milk like government services and determined its price the same way it determines tax rates. The pricing would change as follows:

When the bottom 40 percent of earners buy their milk, they won’t pay a dime for it. In fact, the government would give them $1 in reverse payments for every gallon of milk they purchase. The total cost of providing one gallon of milk to each person in this group would be $196.1 million.

The cost of providing milk to the remaining 60 percent of the taxpayers would be $209.9 million, bringing the total cost burden of all taxpayers’ milk to $406 million.

Under our existing tax rates, instead of paying $2.49 a gallon, the top 1 percent of earners would pay 38 percent of the total milk burden or $109.81 for a gallon of milk.

Nolan concludes:

Taub urges everyone to think about that example whenever they hear President Barack Obama talk about tax fairness, as they will incessantly over the next few weeks.

The current tax system is unfair, but not because the wealthy don’t pay enough.

It’s out of whack because it doesn’t acknowledge that the rich are paying more for their government milk than it’s worth so most others can pay less. And instead of saying thank you, we’re milking those cash cows dry.

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