Tales of the Tax Code
One of the problems, I think, with debates over taxes, is that we have them as if people actually universally pay taxes according to whatever their top marginal rate is (not to mention that most people do not understand marginal rates as a concept).
Another example of that which is paid is not what one would assume from just knowing what tax rates are comes from Bruce Bartlett:
According to newly released data from the Internal Revenue Service, the number of tax filers with no federal income tax liability among those with an income of $200,000 or more has risen to more than 20,000, just over half of 1 percent of all those with an income over $200,000. In 2009, about four million returns listed such an income out of 140 million total returns.
The data also show that among those with an income over $200,000, many paid relatively low tax rates: 3.3 percent paid less than 10 percent, 10 percent paid 10 to 15 percent, 37.2 percent paid 15 to 20 percent, 30.4 percent paid 20 to 25 percent and 16.7 percent paid 25 to 30 percent. Just 2.4 percent paid more than 30 percent.
What this underscores is the complexity of the tax code and why it is difficult to have basic debates over tax rates.