Taxes Are Down For the Rich Yet Again

David Leonhardt presents us with a chart today based on data from a new book by Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman. It shows the effective total tax rate for all income levels in the United States. This includes all state, federal, and local taxes:

The effect of the latest Republican tax cut shows up in the 2018 line: the very richest Americans now pay a total effective tax rate of 23 percent. The poor and the middle classes, by contrast, pay about 25 percent. As you can see, the tax rate for the rich has been dropping steadily for half a century.

The federal income tax code, of course, remains progressive. But it’s no longer progressive enough to make up for payroll taxes and local sales taxes, which have always been regressive. As a result, conservatives have finally reached their dream of a flat tax by stealth. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, doesn’t it?

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You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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