On Wednesday, Rep. Jan Schakowsky introduced legislation to add additional brackets to the federal income tax so that millionaires and billionaires would be taxed at higher rates than they are today.

A rate of 45 percent would apply to taxable income starting at $1 million and rates would increase up to 49 percent for taxable incomes over $1 billion. Citizens for Tax Justice found that the bill would raise at least $78.9 billion if enacted for 2011. This is a little more than the $61 billion that Republicans would like to cut for the rest of this fiscal year from Pell Grants, nutrition, housing and other programs that struggling families rely on, particularly during this recession.

Millionaires make up about 0.2 percent (that's the richest one fifth of one percent) of taxpayers, and yet they received about 17.6 percent of the income tax cuts that were extended at the end of last year. (And millionaires certainly benefitted disproportionately from the estate tax cut that was part of that compromise.) And yet, none of the Republican spending proposals would require this group of taxpayers to share in the sacrifice that they claim is needed to reduce the budget deficit. Congresswoman Schakowsky's proposal demonstrates that there is a fairer way to reduce the deficit.

Ultimately, of course, we need fundamental tax reform that eliminates loopholes, raises revenue and makes the system fairer and simpler. Until that happens, the only fair alternative is to require the best off Americans to contribute at a higher rate than they do today.

Thank you for visiting Tax Justice Blog. CTJ and ITEP staff will soon retire this domain. But ITEP staff are still blogging! You can find the same level of insight and analysis and select Tax Justice Blog archives at our new blog, http://www.justtaxesblog.org/

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