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Sunday, May 27, 2007

John at Ezra's place writes

if he writes a chapter in his book where he goes over, in great detail, the historic and modern day problems with concentrations of great wealth and power, he'll be caricatured as a Cultural Revolution-era Maoist.

So as much as I'm enjoying the book, for the first time I really do think Gore's being entirely sincere when he says he doesn't plan to run. I think it's probably the only way he'd feel quite liberated enough to write the book he has.

I'm sure that if one "writes a chapter in his book where he goes over, in great detail, the historic and modern day problems with concentrations of great wealth and power, he'll be caricatured as a Cultural Revolution-era Maoist." but I am also sure that the voters want a more progressive tax system. They say so in every poll. I think the first politician who ignores the pundits and gets his money on the internet (or out of his pockets if he is a class war traitor) and runs on "soak the rich" will transform American politics.

Don't ask me, ask Gallup
(search for "upper income people") since Gallup first asked in 1992, they haven't done a poll in which fewer than 63% of people say that "upper income people" pay "too little" in taxes. Since '04 they have asked about "corporations" with at least 69 % of people saying corporations pay "too little".

The American people are making their views clear. Why won't politicians listen ? The furious accusations about class war would only tell the people which candidate agrees with them on the issue.

full data stolen from polling report.

"As I read off some different groups, please tell me if you think they are paying their fair share in federal taxes, paying too much, or paying too little. How about [see below]?"

."Lower-income people"

_Fair Share_ Too Much_Too Little_Unsure___
_________%___ %____ %___ %___
_4/2-5/07_ 34___ 45___ 17___ 4___
4/10-13/06 36___ 46___ 12___ 6___
_4/4-7/05_ 36___ 51___ 10___ 3___
___4/04___ 35___ 49___ 12___ 4___
___4/03___ 36___ 49___ 12___ 3___
___4/99___ 34___ 51___ 11___ 4___
___4/96___ 40___ 48___ 9___ 3___
___4/94___ 43___ 42___ 12___ 3___
___3/93___ 37___ 51___ 9___ 3___
___3/92___ 32___ 57___ 8___ 3___

___"Middle-income people"______
_ Fair Share_Too Much_Too Little_Unsure___
_4/2-5/07_ 44___ 47___ 7___ 2___
4/10-13/06 50___ 43___ 5___ 3___
_4/4-7/05_ 52___ 41___ 4___ 3___
___4/04___ 47___ 46___ 4___ 3___
___4/03___ 51___ 40___ 7___ 2___
___4/99___ 35___ 59___ 4___ 2___
___4/96___ 34___ 58___ 5___ 3___
___4/94___ 39___ 57___ 3___ 1___
___3/93___ 39___ 54___ 5___ 2___
___3/92___ 36___ 57___ 5___ 2___

___"Upper-income people"______
_ Fair Share_Too Much_Too Little_Unsure___
_4/2-5/07_ 21___ 9___ 66___ 4___
4/10-13/06 21___ 8___ 67___ 4___
_4/4-7/05_ 22___ 7___ 68___ 3___
___4/04___ 24___ 9___ 63___ 4___
___4/03___ 24___10___ 63___ 3___
___4/99___ 19___10___ 66___ 5___
___4/96___ 19___ 9___ 68___ 4___
___4/94___ 20___10___ 68___ 2___
___3/93___ 16___ 5___ 77___ 2___
___3/92___ 16___ 4___ 77___ 3___

_ Fair Share_Too Much_Too Little_Unsure___
_4/2-5/07_ 19___ 5___ 71___ 5___
4/10-13/06 18___ 5___ 70___ 7___
_4/4-7/05_ 21___ 4___ 69___ 6___
___4/04___ 19___ 5___ 69___ 7

update: More information on what I mean in terms of dollars (and no cents I round)

The median household income according to the census was $46,326 in 2005 (Nationally, 2005 marked the first year since 1999 in which real median household income showed an annual increase.)

The 80th percentile was between 92,000 and 92,500

About 3% of households report income over $ 200,000.

Both facts from this *.pdf

the census does not give information on the richest 1.8% of households because their highest category is "over $250,000". They do this to preserve anonymity as otherwise it might be possible to guess who the respondents are given a specific very high income and all the other
information they collect (it's not just a rule it's an obsession).

To get information on the richest 1% one has to look at tax returns, which means one sees income after the rich have hidden some using tax shelters
The best source for such data is the web page of Emanuel Saez at UC Berkeley
It also means that one looks at families not households (unrelated room-mates are in the same household but not the same family
the census has a lovely category person of the opposite sex sharing living quarters (posslq) for girl(boy)friend) there are more families and, of course, less income per family.

He (and co-author Thomas Picketty report that the richest 1% of families got 17% of total reported income in 2005 (total was about $ 6.8 Trillion)
and that the richest 0.1% got 7.45% or about 500 billion total. Confiscating all income over the threshold that puts one in the top 0.1 % (1.3 million) would give about 300 billion if one ignores the supply side incentive effects (which would be huge for confiscation come on).

The cutoff for getting in the top 5% of families is $ 130,000 of reported income. That is where I would begin to soak. I know some of you live in families with such income and don't think you are rich, but you are.
all information from the first link marked "new" in red on the web page (if I click it to get the URL it invokes excel instead).

you know I went to wikipedia first so I might as well admit it. This is the link

the $130,000 is the top 5%. The reason the number is low is that it is based on tax returns not the CPS and so unrelated individuals sharing housing and living expenses count as separate units. I'd say they are rich. I didn't say how hard I planned to soak them (because I don't know) but I certainly didn't imagine anything confiscatory (that would be dumb).

The idea would be to eliminate the income tax on the lower 50% have marginal tax rates slightly higher than currently up to the 80th percentile but low enough that they gain from having income up to median income taxed at 0 and then raise marginal tax rates from $130,000 on up to balance the budget.

People who make $131,000 aren't going to get hammered as only the top 1,000 is taxed at the high rate.
Effective tax rates (average not marginal) are 30% for the top 1% (incomes above roughly $300,000) going up to 35% for the top 0.01 % the rates are calculated on reported income (that is post much tax sheltering).

The top 1% of tax units (roughly families) get around 17% of reported income which was about 6.6 trillion in 2005 so they get over 1.1 trillion. raising the average effective rate on them from 30% to 55% would eliminate the 2006 budget deficit if there were no behavioral response (as of course there would be).

If the tax increase were applied only to incomes above the top 1% that would mean an increase in the effective marginal rate from around 30% to very roughly 67% always assuming no behavioral response (this calculation is from the cutoff for the top 1% is about half the average income from 99th percentile to the 99.9th and the 0.1 percentile is about 13 times the cutoff or stuff which I don't remember and I have been up all night.

To me that means that paying for the tax cuts for the non rich and balancing the budget and paying for more social spending etc etc means taxing families in percentiles 95-99 too.

I have only mentioned the income tax. Increases in the capital gains tax and the inheritance tax have a role too.

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