Most People Don’t Pay Much in Federal Income Tax

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When Paul Ryan says he wants “tax reform,” what he means is that he wants to cut taxes on the rich. That means top marginal rates, capital gains rates, dividend rates, and estate tax rates. Primarily this is because Republicans have few economic goals left on earth except cutting income taxes on corporations and the rich. Here’s one reason why:

Basically, there’s no income tax to cut anymore until you get to household incomes in the six figures. Even at $200,000, the federal income tax rate is pretty modest. So if you’re going to cut income taxes, it’s pretty hard to cut them very much for anyone but the rich.

Of course, households with lower incomes still pay a lot in payroll taxes, state sales taxes, and other flat or regressive taxes. The federal income tax is the main bulwark that makes the overall tax system progressive, so it’s easy to see why Republicans hate it.

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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