Who Pays the Taxes in the United States? And Why?

Today is Tax Day, and you’ve probably noted a few different narratives swirling around concerning taxes. One narrative is that the top earners in the US pay a disproportionate amount of taxes. This is known as a progressive tax rate. But other commentators have noted that the progressive tax rate applies for Federal income taxes but not for other taxes. If you consider all taxes—payroll, state, and local—the tax rate starts to look almost proportional percentage-wise.

First, the top ten percent of wage earners in fact do pay nearly 71 percent of federal income tax. That’s significant. This means that only ten percent of wage-earners are having to send checks to the IRS. And they’re sending big lump checks. This segment of the population is rightly angry about this. Just think about what would happen if all taxpayers had to pay taxes like this.

I don’t make much money, and I have five kids. Last year, I paid about $3,000 in federal payroll taxes. I can’t tell you how frustrated and angry I would be if I had to pay that in one check before April 15. As it is, it was removed from my pay before I received it, which softened the blow considerably.

Then there is sales tax. Most of us pay that without thinking. On gasoline, the sales tax is included so we almost never even consider that. So almost all of us pay taxes in the United States. But the way we pay them is extremely important. The majority of wage-earners pay taxes incrementally and invisibly. Which means we don’t have the same reason to squall. And the top ten percent don’t have the numbers necessary to change the tax law.

The total revenue from federal, state, and local taxes last year was about $5.8 trillion. Do you realize that, with 318.9 million residents, that equals $18,187.51 per person. Now, obviously, not everyone pays that amount in taxes. But that is the amount of money the civil government collected per person in the US—man, woman, and child. And there is no way every person in the United States received that kind of value out of the investment. I have a family of seven. That’s $127,312.64 collected for just my family. I don’t make anywhere close to half of that, but the civil government has collected that, apparently on our behalf. What are they doing with it? I can tell you right now they’re wasting most of it.

And that’s not all. What the civil government collected is far lower than what they spend. And not even close to being enough to pay off what we owe. Why aren’t we fuming mad? Because we’re just not thinking about this correctly. We think the rich deserve to pay more. But pay more to do what? No one in this country is receiving a proportional benefit from the money we are spending.

So who pays taxes in the United States? We all do. But some pay way more than the rest of us, and most of us would be angry enough to fire Congress if our taxes were collected in the same way the rich pay their taxes. And the bottom line is that the civil government collects way too much considering what it is able to accomplish with our money. Get mad. The government needs to reduce spending, pay off our debts, and quit skewering working Americans.