"America has been fantastic" to Will Smith. Like those profiled in our book, The Self-Made Myth, the 43 year-old actor, who makes an average salary of $36 million and has an estimated net worth of $215 million, knows much of his success wouldn't have been possible anywhere else but here in the U.S. As such, he has "no problem" paying higher taxes for the good of the country.
Here are eight reasons why you should agree that the rich should pay higher taxes:
- Tax rates on the richest U.S. households are at historic lows.
- The share of national income going to the top 1% has reached a historic high.
- The richest 1% have all but recovered from the Great Recession, while the bottom 99% experience stagnation.
- Low taxes increase economic inequality.
- Lower tax rates do not lead to economic growth.
- Low taxes on the rich worsens the racial economic divide. (pdf)
- Historically, the wealthiest Americans have paid higher taxes during wartime (like right now).
- He is the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. His break-through role was about a young man's infiltration of the top 1%. Now, he's actually in the top 1% and believes very wealthy people like himself should pay higher taxes. Considering the facts above, we should all agree.
In case you're unfamiliar with the show, the opening sequence sets the premise. Enjoy!
|Debbie Bosanek in looks on as President Obama delivers his 2012 State of the Union address.|
It's true. Warren Buffett's secretary is a real person. After so many years as a nameless, faceless talking point in support of higher taxes on millionaires and billionaires, the country's most famous secretary has emerged—in momentous fashion at that.
Debbie Bosanek is her name, and she was revealed to the world during President Obama's third State of the Union address:
Right now, because of loopholes and shelters in the tax code, a quarter of all millionaires pay lower tax rates than millions of middle-class households. Right now, Warren Buffett pays a lower tax rate than his secretary.
Buffett's super-low tax rate became a hot topic in the early 2000s, but it took nearly a decade for that fact to shake its purely rhetorical quality. Obama gave the issue new life last year when he announced his intent to pursue the Buffett Rule, or a tax on millionaires to reduce the growing economic chasm between the top 1% and everybody else. In his SOTU address, he called for a minimum 30% tax rate for millionaires.
Now, not only does the Buffett Rule have the name and face of, in Bosanek's words, "an average citizen who needs a voice," but it also has numbers to place it's impact in context. Our friends at Citizens for Tax Justice calculate that the Buffett Rule would raise $50 billion this year if implemented and would affect a mere 0.08% of taxpayers.
This week, Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-RI) decided to ride the wave. In the wake of the SOTU, Whitehouse is introducing a version of the Buffett Rule for a vote in the Senate with his Paying A Fair Share Act. The bill offers a very straightfoward way to meet the President's 30% rate on millionaires without changing existing income tax rates or the preferential treatment of capital gains and dividends that chiefly benefits the very wealthy. While we'd love to see more holistic reform of the tax code, we applaud the Senator for getting the conversation started.
The bill is certain to meet rabid opposition from Congressional Republicans. But with polls showing overwhelming support for the Buffett Rule, the GOP may struggle to justify continued tax breaks for the people who really don't need them, especially in an election year.
Now, Congressional "deficit hawks" are demanding major spending cuts to some of the most vital government programs like Medicare and Social Security. But, a closer look at the country’s balance sheet shows that it’s not spending that’s out of control, it’s revenue.
Federal income tax rates are at their lowest since the mid-1950s. Keeping taxes as low as they currently are doesn't make any sense (especially for the wealthiest taxpayers), but lowering them further is pure insanity. Be that as it may, that’s precisely what Republicans are proposing.
- …make $5.8 billion in spending cuts or implement a 2% increase in taxes for the top 5% of income earners?
- …save $41.6 billion per year by increasing the retirement age two years, or increase the corporate tax rate by 1.5%?
- …cut corporate tax rates by 10% as proposed by Senator Ryan in his budget proposal, or completely cover all of Medicare’s current costs?
- …cut Pell Grant funding for college students by $8 billion over 10 years or increase taxes on wealthiest 1% by a measly 0.05%?
States are facing their largest decline in revenue on record. The response from elected officials has been downright harmful, shortsighted, and economically unsound. Cutting to get out of a deficit is like digging to get out of a ditch. It puts everything we value at risk. And as we state in our new report—Flip It to Fix It: it doesn’t have to be this way.
By design, our state tax structures are designed to fail. Why? Because every state in the U.S. has a regressive tax structure, meaning it takes a greater share of income from low- and middle-income families than from the wealthy. In tough economic times, trying to raise adequate revenue through a regressive tax structure is like trying to squeeze water from a stone.
A new study, released today by the Tax Fairness Organizing Collaborative at United for a Fair Economy, asks the question: What if there was a solution to state deficits that would raise significant revenue, encourage investment, and create jobs—without cutting vital public services? And what if the revenue required by such a solution could be generated solely by making tax systems as fair as most Americans think they ought to be?
As this study demonstrates, this can be achieved by inverting each state’s tax structure. In other words, taking each state’s current distribution of state and local taxes and flipping it, with a pivot point at dead center (the 50th percentile). In this inverted state and local tax model, the wealthiest 20 percent pay the share of state and local taxes currently imposed on the least wealthy 20 percent, and vice-versa, with the fourth quintile also trading places with the second.
Every single state would benefit tremendously by inverting their existing tax structure. All combined, states would generate an additional $490 billion in revenue—immediately eliminating their deficits with cash to spare for investing in job creation and other stimulants to the economy. The flipped structure would be progressive, which is not only more economically sound, but also consistent with the majority of Americans’ perception of “fair.”
Read the full report in our resources section.
Austerity for Whom? surveys the impacts of a tax-cutting, government-shrinking economic agenda – as prescribed by Republican leadership with Tea Party allies – on communities of color.Read more
Drained highlights the shortcomings of colorblind policies and the urgent need for targeted strategies geared toward lifting up the communities in most need.Read more
The Silent Depression explores the silent economic depression that affects communities of color – one that has gone unacknowledged and unaddressed.Read more