Willingness to Soak the Rich Depends Upon the Question

Further to my post, “Two Wolves and a Sheep,” a new poll out yesterday from The Hill disputes other polls showing a majority favoring taxing the rich more. According to The Hill’s poll, when asked the specific percentage “the rich” should pay, most provide a number lower than the current tax rate on the wealthiest!

One possible explanation is voters may not know how much the nation’s top earners are already being taxed. The poll did not ask voters to identify current tax rates before saying what rate they favored.

As The Economist points out, top earners in America already pay the highest—and growing—share of taxes of any Western nation:

The rich pay a substantial share of taxes across the developed world, and this share has risen in recent decades. According to the OECD, a think-tank, the top 10% of earners contribute about a third of total tax revenues—28% in France, 31% in Germany and 42% in Italy. Rich Britons pay about 39% of total taxes while America’s wealthiest households contribute a larger share to government than in any other OECD country, at 45%. Looking just at income tax, the share paid by the top 1% of earners in America rose from 28% in 1988 to 40% in 2006, in Britain it rose from 21% in 1999 to 28% this year.

Britain raised the top marginal rate to 50% from 40% last year, but tax revenue from these top earners has actually declined by up to 5%.

Which then begs the question: Is the Obama administration mistakenly seeking to reduce the deficit through a false hope that increased taxes on “the rich” will raise more revenues; or is it just following a formulaic Progressive agenda that will beggar us all?

HT: David Theroux

Mary L. G. Theroux is Chairman and Chief Executive of the Independent Institute.
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