Now that most people have put their tax returns in the mail (or applied for extensions), it’s interesting to take a look at who is paying the lion’s share of taxes in the United States. We here at Registered Rep. try to avoid politics (well, except for our ongoing arguments in the newsroom, which pit a free-market libertarian—that’s right singular—against more traditionally “liberal” staffers). Today’s New York Post cites a Congressional Budget Office report that says that “the rich” (defined as the top 40 percent of earners) pay almost all of the personal income tax collected by the U.S. government. The richest 1 percent pay one-third of all personal income tax receipts—a 36 percent increase in their tax burden since 1979.)
Okay, fine, they are rich, and we have a progressive tax system. So be it. But here is the scary part: Half of all Americans actually receive some sort of income from the U.S. government. The Wall Street Journal (subscription necessary) today puts it another way: “The income tax system is so bad, and increasingly reliant on a shrinking number of Americans to pay the nation’s bills, that 40 percent of the country’s households -- more than 44 million adults -- pay no income taxes at all. Not a penny.”
We bring this to your attention not to complain about taxes—that they are too high, too low or too anything—but to point out that: An ever dwindling few is paying the country’s bills. Makes for good politics, but it may mean that, unchecked, the U.S. government won’t be able to meet its future obligations.