The Wealthiest 5% Pay 40% Of All Federal Taxes


Americans “want to make sure that middle-class folks aren’t bearing the entire burden and sacrifice when it comes to some of these big challenges,” said President Obama said in a new conference earlier this month. “They expect that folks at the top are doing their fair share as well.”

But what is that fair share when the top 1% of American households by income are paying 22% of all federal taxes (not just income taxes) and the top 5% are paying 40% of all taxes?

As matters stand, the top 1 percent of American households paid 39 percent of income taxes in 2009, according to the most recent data compiled by the Congressional Budget Office, and the top 5 percent of taxpayers paid 64 percent.

But income taxes, taken in isolation, do not tell the whole story, because lower-income Americans do pay payroll taxes. But even taking into account all forms of taxation, the top 1 percent still paid 22 percent of federal taxes while earning just 13.4 percent of household income. The top 5 percent paid 40 percent of all federal taxes, despite earning only 26 percent of all income. No matter how you slice the numbers, it’s hard to understand why anyone would think the wealthy aren’t already shouldering a burden commensurate with their blessings.

Our friends on the left would have us believe that the nation’s fiscal problems stem from not adequately taxing the most prosperous citizens. But those citizens are already paying an inordinate chunk of the total tax pie.

Is the problem really a paucity of taxation? Or do we simply have more government than we can afford?

Rob Port

Rob Port is the editor of In 2011 he was a finalist for the Watch Dog of the Year from the Sam Adams Alliance and winner of the Americans For Prosperity Award for Online Excellence. In 2013 the Washington Post named SAB one of the nation's top state-based political blogs, and named Rob one of the state's best political reporters.

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