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Top Earners Pay Higher Tax Rate Without Buffett Rule

President Barack Obama is promoting a “Buffett rule” setting a minimum tax rate for top earners to ensure they pay a higher percentage of their income than middle-class families. For the most part, they already do.

The average tax rate, including payroll taxes, for the middle 20 percent of U.S. families will be 15.9 percent in 2015, according to an estimate by the Tax Policy Center, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. Of the 217,000 households that would be affected by the Buffett rule, 4,000 will have incomes exceeding $1 million and tax rates lower than 15 percent, under slightly different measures of income and taxes by the center.