Those in the middle-income quintile, for instance, can pay anywhere between 1.7 percent and 23.5 percent of their income in federal taxes. About a quarter of the wealthiest Americans, meanwhile, have a lower average tax rate (17.4 percent) than many of those in making far less money.
What explains the wild variation? Part of it is that some Americans -- Mitt Romney is the most famous example -- get a sizeable chunk of their income from capital gains, taxed at a lower rate than salaries. There are also a variety of deductions and credits in the tax code that only certain people either can or do take advantage of.
Bruce Bartlett comments that the tax code has become misaligned with basic fairness principles: "We can see, then, that the tax system in the United States violates the fundamental principles of income taxation."
No surprise here, as we have never watched the Republicans CUT the taxes of the richest Americans.
Americans For Financial Reform is trying to make the tax issue into a political controversy without much help from our tepid and complicit media, writing:
"With tax Day just around the corner, and so many Americans struggling to make ends meet, we can't help but notice that Wall Street is still not paying their fair share.
Yesterday, we sent out a press release announcing that prominent bankers now supported a financial speculation tax. Of course, that was an April fools joke. They don't. And they won't. Which is why its so important for all of us to take action.
They add: "A small tax on financial transactions has the potential to raise significant revenue and simultaneously limit reckless short-term speculation that can threaten financial stability. We are writing to ask you to support such a tax for the United States. We are also asking that you put an end any Treasury Department opposition to the implementation of the tax in Europe. Many European countries are moving ahead with this idea, and so should the United States."
The Democrats are legitimately attacking Republican Paul Ryan's "budget" which will insure more tax breaks for the rich while at the same time backing a law that undercuts financial regulation, as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich explains:
"And then there's the "Jumpstart Our Business Startups" or "JOBS" Act, which President Obama is expected to sign into law Thursday. It allows so-called "crowd funding" by which people whose net worth is less than $100,000 can gamble away (invest) up to 5 percent of their annual incomes in any get- rich-quick scam (start-up) that any huckster (entrepreneur) may sell them.
Forget the usual investor disclosures or other protections. In the interest of "streamlining," Congress has streamlined the way to fraud. Although start-ups will have to market themselves through third-party portals approved by the Securities and Exchange Commission, this is like limiting Bernie Madoff to making pitches over the radio. The SEC can barely keep track of Wall Street let alone thousands of Internet portals. Small wonder SEC Chair Mary Schapiro has been one of most outspoken critics of bill.
The bill was sold to Congress as a way to promote jobs (note the acronym) on the supposition that small start-ups create huge numbers of them. Wrong. That assumption comes from research by the Kauffman Foundation, which counted as a "start-up job" every laid-off worker who morphed into an independent contractor."
This may be the year for OWS to consider Occupying the IRS, or at least finding a dramatic way of challenging the lack of fairness in our tax codes as well as the "priorities" the tax money currently funds including wars and subsidies for those that don't need them
You don't have to be, or have, an accountant to know the score.
Death and taxes will always be with us but this current tax regime is so skewed and disgusting that it demands to be challenged and junked.