Tax Reform for the Rich: Reduce the Rates but Lose the Breaks

The top 1 percent seems a fair representation of the rich. This group — about 1.4 million taxpayers — reported adjusted gross incomes of over $466,000 in 2014, the most recent year for which the data is available.

.. The top 1 percent paid a total of $542.6 billion in federal tax, or an astounding 39.5 percent of the total income tax. If you want to take a more expansive view of rich, the top 10 percent (who earn upward of $133,000) pay 71 percent of the total tax.

Do they pay the top rate? Not by a long shot. The average rate for the top 1 percent is 27 percent of their adjusted gross income. (It’s even lower — 24 percent — for the superrich in the 0.001 percent bracket.) The top 10 percent pay an average of 21 percent.

.. The nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated that the 10 largest tax expenditures (its term for what most people consider tax breaks) would amount to $12 trillion, or 5.4 percent of gross domestic product, over the decade from 2014 to 2023.

.. The top 1 percent gave $77 billion in 2014, 37 percent of total charitable contribution deductions

.. Why should capital income be taxed at a much lower rate than ordinary income? Capital assets are owned overwhelmingly by the rich. The top 1 percent reported $561 billion in capital gains taxed at the preferential rate, or 68 percent of the total. As a simple matter of math, the rich will never pay anything close to the top statutory rate as long so much of their income is taxed at a much lower rate (currently 20 percent for the top bracket, not counting the Affordable Care Act surcharge of 3.8 percent).

.. This path would require Republicans to set aside a long-held belief that lower capital-gains rates promote more economic growth and investment

By picking Tom Price to lead HHS, Trump shows he’s absolutely serious about dismantling Obamacare

The health insurance tax break is the biggest in the federal budget; the government loses out on $260 billion annually by not taxing health benefits. And economists across the political spectrum agree that we should eliminate or at least reduce this tax break, which currently gives those with jobs a huge discount on their coverage — and an incentive to buy more coverage than they actually need.