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Tuesday, April 16, 2013

'A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent'

Except for the dust-up (cyclone?) over the Reinhart and Rogoff results on debt and growth, it's a bit of a slow day and I need to get to a meeting. So, reaching back a few days for a quick post, Joseph Stiglitz does not "eschew the word 'fair'":

A Tax System Stacked Against the 99 Percent, by Joe Stiglitz, Commentary, NY Times: ...About 6 in 10 of us believe that the tax system is unfair — and they’re right: put simply, the very rich don’t pay their fair share. The richest 400 individual taxpayers, with an average income of more than $200 million, pay less than 20 percent of their income in taxes — far lower than mere millionaires, who pay about 25 percent..., and about the same as those earning a mere $200,000 to $500,000. And in 2009, 116 of the top 400 earners — almost a third — paid less than 15 percent of their income in taxes.
Conservatives like to point out that the richest Americans’ tax payments make up a large portion of total receipts. ... Citizens for Tax Justice, an organization that advocates for a more progressive tax system, has estimated that, when federal, state and local taxes are taken into account, the top 1 percent paid only slightly more than 20 percent of all American taxes in 2010 — about the same as the share of income they took home, an outcome that is not progressive at all.
With such low effective tax rates — and, importantly, the low tax rate of 20 percent on income from capital gains — it’s not a huge surprise that the share of income going to the top 1 percent has doubled since 1979, and that the share going to the top 0.1 percent has almost tripled...
Over the years, some of the wealthy have been enormously successful in getting special treatment, shifting an ever greater share of the burden of financing the country’s expenditures — defense, education, social programs — onto others. ...
Economists often eschew the word “fair” — fairness, like beauty, is in the eye of the beholder. But the unfairness of the American tax system has gotten so great that it’s dishonest to apply any other label to it. ...
Society can’t function well without a minimal sense of national solidarity and cohesion, and that sense of shared purpose also rests on a fair tax system. If Americans believe that government is unfair — that ours is a government of the 1 percent, for the 1 percent, and by the 1 percent — then faith in our democracy will surely perish.

So, if we face a choice between cutting programs the middle class relies upon, and making the tax system more progressive, we should... It's not hard to guess my answer.

[The original is much, much longer.]

    Posted by on Tuesday, April 16, 2013 at 01:44 PM in Economics, Equity, Taxes | Permalink  Comments (32)

          


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