The Case For More Tax Brackets


Annie Lowrey continues her campaign for a higher tax bracket or two:

For the past 20 years, the top income tax bracket has started around $370,000, and top marginal tax rate has stayed between 35 and 39.6 percent. But since the mid-1990s, the richest have gotten richer, earning a higher and higher share of all income while paying the same income tax rate as more moderate-income workers.

Indeed they have. I recommend some class warfare here, except that the classes in question will be the well-off, the rich, and the super rich. How about if we reduce the top rate on the well-off (say, those making between $200,000 and $370,000), raise it on the rich (between $370,000 and $1 million), and raise it a bunch on the super rich (over $1 million). If you really want to get ambitious, you could even add yet another bracket that kicks in around, say, $5 million.

Why not? As Annie points out, we used to have more brackets. There’s no law that says everyone over $370,000 should pay the exact same rate, and the supply-side theory that the super rich will lose all their ambition if their tax rates go up is based on essentially no evidence at all. What’s more, the rich and the super rich (not the merely well off) are the ones who have really done well over the past couple of decades, so higher brackets for them make sense. The winners here would be all the lawyers and doctors and accountants in the well-off bracket. The losers would be hedge fund managers, Fortune 500 CEOs, and Goldman Sachs traders in the rich and super-rich brackets.

Which ones would the Republican Party support? We’ll make this all revenue neutral, of course, so they don’t have to break the blood oath that Grover Norquist has forced them all to sign. Want to take a guess?

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