A recent Wall Street Journal editorial touts new figures from the IRS as evidence that the rich are actually paying a higher share of federal taxes under President Bush and that the tax code has, therefore, become more progressive over the past eight years.
The Journal uses the IRS figures to create the impression that the poorer half of Americans are contributing almost nothing to federal revenue while the wealthy are providing the bulk of it.
Do the rich pay too much in taxes? Has the tax code become even more progressive as a result of the Bush tax cuts?
Of course not. As a new report from CTJ explains, the share of taxes paid by the rich looks large and growing only because the Wall Street Journal ignores the tax that affects the poor and middle-class most heavily -- the payroll tax.
The new CTJ report provides figures that combine both the federal income tax and the federal payroll tax into the total amount of federal taxes paid by each income group in 2007. The richest one percent does pay a large share of total federal taxes - 23.6 percent. But the richest one percent also receives a roughly equal share of total income in the United States, 22.4 percent. Further, the Bush tax cuts actually reduced the total share of federal taxes paid by the richest one percent.