The Progressive


A project of Common Dreams

For Immediate Release

Rich Americans Are Not Overtaxed


Today a new analysis by the Center for American Progress debunks the conservative talking point that the richest 1 percent of Americans are overtaxed because they pay a higher share of taxes.

Conservatives often point out that the top 1 percent of income earners pay about 40 percent of all the taxes. While that statistic might sound unfair at first blush, CAP's Sarah Ayres and Michael Linden explain that the share of taxes paid is a misleading and fundamentally unreliable statistic that reveals little about the fairness or relative burden of the tax system.

The paper outlines three reasons why the conservative argument that the rich already pay more than their fair share is false:

  • Federal income taxes are just one part of the total tax burden. By focusing only on the one piece of the tax code that is very progressive, conservatives are artificially inflating the share of taxes paid by the 1 percent.

  • The rich pay more of the taxes because they make more of the income. The richest 1 percent of people pay far more than 1 percent of all the taxes because they have far more than 1 percent of all the income. (see Figure 1)

  • The amount of taxes an individual pays as a share of his or her own income matters. The amount of taxes someone pays as a share of total revenues is less important. (see Figure 2)

Read the analysis:

See also:

The Center for American Progress is a think tank dedicated to improving the lives of Americans through ideas and action. We combine bold policy ideas with a modern communications platform to help shape the national debate, expose the hollowness of conservative governing philosophy and challenge the media to cover the issues that truly matter.