Who Pays Taxes

The National Taxpayers Union has updated their “Who Pays Taxes” numbers to include 2002. Nothing really shocking in that the top 50% of income earners pay 96% of the income tax. One thing to keep in mind, when you hear people saying that those in the lower part of the income distribution need a bigger income tax break because they are the ones who will spend it, what they really mean is an income transfer. The bottom half of the in income distribution pays only 3.5% of the income tax. Many people in that part of the distribution have a negative tax rate already. Hence for many of these people a bigger tax cuts means an increase in the income transfer payment they are already recieving.

FILED UNDER: Uncategorized,
Steve Verdon
About Steve Verdon
Steve has a B.A. in Economics from the University of California, Los Angeles and attended graduate school at The George Washington University, leaving school shortly before staring work on his dissertation when his first child was born. He works in the energy industry and prior to that worked at the Bureau of Labor Statistics in the Division of Price Index and Number Research. He joined the staff at OTB in November 2004.


  1. M. Murcek says:

    Re-distribution of wealth is just slavery without chains. Unless, of course, you stop participating by sending in your wealth to be redistibuted, it which case, you will see chains, bars, wire screens, etc. Oh, and your wealth will be expropriated, too.

  2. Andrew says:

    Also, the Tax Foundation has historical data on this back to 1980, along with average tax rates and income cutoffs for groups:


  3. mtglass says:

    Just once I’d like to see these statistics presented honestly – i.e. including not just Federal income tax, but FDIC, Medicare, etc. AND the “employer’s share” of same which is of course paid by the employee. Properly accounting for a 15% regressive tax which is reduced for upper incomes and does not confiscate investment income surely changes the distribution significantly. To ignore it is very misleading.