Rich Man, Taxed Man

At first glance, the data suggest that the wealthy are being asked to shoulder an inordinate share of the tax burden. A new analysis by the Tax Foundation indicates that the top 1% of earners coughed up 27.4% of all federal individual income taxes in 1992, up from 19% a decade earlier. By contrast, the bottom 50% of income earners paid just 5.1% of all personal income taxes collected by the Treasury in 1992, compared with 7.3% in 1982 (chart).

The catch is that the rich are getting a lot richer. The top 1% took in $524 billion, or 14.2% of total adjusted gross income, in 1992, up from 8.9% in 1982. Meanwhile, the income share of the lower 50% fell from 17.7% to 14.9%. Thus, the top 1% now rake in almost as much as the entire bottom half of earners.

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