Some people speculate that Biden isn’t actually that radical, and that his class-warfare agenda was simply a tactic to fend off Bernie Sanders, so it will be interesting to see how much of his political platform winds up as actual legislative proposals in 2021.
That being said, we can safely assume three things.
- Biden will propose higher taxes.
- Those tax increases will target upper-income taxpayers such as entrepreneurs, investors, and business owners.
- Those tax increases will be a very bad idea.
The main argument that Biden and his supporters will use to justify such a plan is that “rich” taxpayers are not paying their fair share.
There’s just one problem with this argument. As shown by this multi-decade data from Brian Riedl’s chartbook, it’s wildly, completely, and utterly inaccurate. The richest 20 percent are now shouldering a much greater share of the tax burden.
Every other group, by contrast, is now paying a smaller share of the tax burden.
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Some folks on the left assert that the above chart is misleading. They say the chart merely shows that the rich have been getting richer and everyone else is falling behind.
The solution, they argue, is to catch up with the rest of the world by making the tax system more “progressive.”
Once again, Riedl’s chartbook is the go-to source. As shown in this chart, it turns out that rich people pay a higher share than their counterparts in every other developed nation.
Please notice, by the way, the additional explanation in the lower-left portion of the chart, The numbers displayed do not include the value-added taxes that are imposed by every other nation, which are regressive or proportional depending on the time horizon. This means that the overall American tax code is far more tilted against the rich than shown by this chart.
But the key point to understand, as I’ve noted before, is that difference between Europe and the United States is not the taxation of the rich. The real reason that America has the most progressive tax system is that European nations impose much heavier taxes on lower-income and middle-class taxpayers.
P.P.S. It’s also worth remembering that higher tax rates on the rich don’t necessarily lead to higher tax revenues.