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by Alan Reynolds

Alan Reynolds is a senior fellow with the Cato Institute and the author of Income and Wealth.
Added to cato.org on December 23, 2010


When President Obama announced a two-year stay of execution for taxpayers on Dec. 7, he made it clear that he intends to spend those two years campaigning for higher marginal tax rates on dividends, capital gains and salaries for couples earning more than $250,000. "I don't see how the Republicans win that argument," said the president.

Despite the deficit commission's call for tax reform with fewer tax credits and lower marginal tax rates, the left wing of the Democratic Party remains passionate about making the U.S. tax system more and more progressive. They claim this is all about payback—that raising the highest tax rates is the fair thing to do because top income groups supposedly received huge windfalls from the Bush tax cuts. As the headline of a Robert Creamer column in the Huffington Post put it: "The Crowd that Had the Party Should Pick up the Tab."
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In The Journal of Economic Perspectives (Winter 2007), Messrs. Piketty and Saez estimated that "the upper 1% of the income distribution earned 19.6% of total income before tax [in 2004], and paid 41% of the individual federal income tax." No other major country is so dependent on so few taxpayers.

A 2008 study of 24 leading economies by the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) concludes that, "Taxation is most progressively distributed in the United States, probably reflecting the greater role played there by refundable tax credits, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and the Child Tax Credit... Taxes tend to be least progressive in the Nordic countries (notably, Sweden), France and Switzerland." The OECD study — titled "Growing Unequal?" — also found that the ratio of taxes paid to income received by the top 10% was by far the highest in the U.S., at 1.35, compared to 1.1 for France, 1.07 for Germany, 1.01 for Japan and 1.0 for Sweden (i.e., the top decile's share of Swedish taxes is the same as their share of income).
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ymarkov: (damn)
This is like the 7th time I'm filling out this form (Informational tax return of a private foundation), and this item from the instructions never ceases to amaze me:

Sequencing Chart To Complete the Form

Step .... Part
1 ....... IV
2 ....... I & II
3 ....... Heading
4 ....... III
5 ....... VII-A
6 ....... VIII
7 ....... IX-A – X
8 ...... XII, lines 1 – 4
9 ...... V & VI
10 ...... XII, lines 5 – 6
11 ...... XI
12 ...... XIII
13 ...... VII-B
14 ...... XIV – XVII
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"Bread and Circuses is the cancer of democracy, the fatal disease for which there is no cure. Democracy often works beautifully at first. But once a state extends the franchise to every warm body, be he producer or parasite, that day marks the beginning of the end of the state. For when the plebs discover that they can vote themselves bread and circuses without limit and that the productive members of the body politic cannot stop them, they will do so, until the state bleeds to death, or in its weakened condition the state succumbs to an invader--the barbarians enter Rome." - Lazarus Long in To Sail Beyond the Sunset by R.A. HeinleinHere's where we are )
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The Coming Tax Bomb

By JOHN F. COGAN and R. GLENN HUBBARD

As the presidential campaign enters its final stages, there will be increased debate over budget priorities and how they will be paid for. Many commentators and political leaders, including Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, believe that tax increases are needed to restore near-term budget balance and finance longer-term entitlement growth.

These claims fail budget arithmetic and economics. Worse, they raise serious questions about the nation's broad fiscal policies and its commitment to economic growth.By historical standards, federal revenues relative to GDP, at 18.8% last year, are high. In the past 25 years, this level was only exceeded during the five years from 1996 to 2000. Still, we stand on the verge of a very large tax increase, one that will occur unless the next Congress and president agree to rescind it. Letting the Bush tax cuts expire will drive the personal income tax burden up by 25% – to its highest point relative to GDP in history.[The Coming Tax Bomb]

This would be the largest increase in personal income taxes since World War II. It would be more than twice as large as President Lyndon Johnson's surcharge to finance the war in Vietnam and the war on poverty. It would be more than twice the combined personal income tax increases under Presidents George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton. The increase would push total federal government revenues relative to GDP to 20%.

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