Byron Aarstad writes that “rich people” should pay their “fair share” in taxes — a common argument (Our Readers’ Views, March 11). So what is their fair share?
For tax year 2020, the top 1 percent of income earners paid 42.3 percent of all federal income tax; the top 5 percent paid 62.7 percent, and the top 10 percent paid 73.7 percent. By contrast, the bottom 50 percent paid 2.3 percent of the total (https://tinyurl.com/2p9abfat). So unless the answer to the question is simply, and always, “more,” it is difficult to argue that they aren’t doing so already.
Now it is true that these proportions would change to a degree if payroll taxes and other taxes — state and local — were included, but the question remains. As I have argued in these pages, we need thorough reform — of taxes, entitlements, and spending — if the United States is to avoid bankruptcy.
The current U.S. Tax Code is 6,781 pages. Federal tax regulations and official tax guidance add another 75,000. If you are looking for “unfairness,” that’s the place to start.
The income tax code in the United States is quite progressive. Making it more progressive in the name of “fairness” would, in fact, do more harm than good.