BTC BRIEF: Who Pays Taxes? The Poor, the Rich, and Everyone in Between
By Edwin McLenaghan
Policy Analyst, Budget & Tax Center
• Virtually every household pays taxes, and even the poorest fifth of American households paid an average of one-sixth (16 percent) of their total income in federal, state, and local taxes in 2009.
• The wealthiest 1 percent of households in the country, with annual incomes averaging over $1.3 million, paid under one-third (30.7 percent) of their income in total taxes in 2009. In 1970, the wealthiest 1 percent of households paid over two-fifths (42 percent) of their income in federal taxes alone.
• Low- and middle-income families with stagnating and declining incomes often forgo basic necessities to pay their federal, state, and local taxes. The wealthy pay their taxes by reducing their savings rate.
• Letting the Bush tax cuts for the wealthiest expire and using the revenue for pro-jobs policies would still leave the wealthiest paying lower tax rates than they have for most of the last half-century and put the economy on the path to recovery.