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Taxing taxes: Who is paying more, and should they? | Deseret News National
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Jacquelyn Martin, Associated Press
Moneywise

Taxing taxes: Who is paying more, and should they?

The well-to-do are feeling the "bite of tax increases" as their share of the total tax burden increases, a Wall Street Journal graphic shows.

According to the accompanying story by John D. McKinnon, higher earners' share of federal taxes was climbing even before the latest tax increases were passed at the beginning of 2013: "Those changes included a bump in the top ordinary income rate to 39.6 percent from 35 percent, a limit on itemized deductions and an increase in the top rate on investment income," he wrote. "Largely as a result, overall federal tax receipts from the top 1 percent of earners rose by 1.3 percentage points to 29.3 percent of all federal tax revenue, the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center estimates."

Emily Cohn at The Huffington Post points out that the biggest earners also "suck up" a bigger portion of the nation's income: "The 1 percent now account for about 17 percent of total income, according to the WSJ, citing the Tax Policy Center, a share that has doubled since the 1980s. In that light, it's less shocking that the 1 percent's share of the tax burden has nearly doubled in that time, too."

In other words, she says, "a minimal rise in tax rates is being eclipsed by income gains that only benefit the wealthiest of the wealthy."

Robert Frank at CNBC says that the higher rates have increased revenue, disputing the idea that higher taxes leads to lower revenue because the wealthy will spend and invest less.

But Roberton Williams at the Tax Policy Center told CNBC it is hard to say what the well-to-do would have spent if things were different. "With so many things going on with the economy," he told CNBC, "maybe the wealthy would have reported even more taxable income if they hadn't raised taxes."

If the wealthy do not like the new tax hikes, they are not alone. As Shan Li at the Los Angeles Times says, most Americans think taxes are too high: "The annual Gallup poll found that 52 percent of taxpayers say federal income taxes are set too high, an increase from 46 percent in 2012."

But this isn't the 69 percent that were unhappy before President George W. Bush's income-tax cuts of 2001 and 2003.

"The bluer you are, the more OK you are with paying Uncle Sam," Li writes. "About 55 percent of Democrats say taxes are 'about right,' while only 38 percent of Republicans and 36 percent of independents think the same."

McKinnon at the Wall Street Journal finds that as the wealthy are seeing tax hikes, the debate rages on whether rates should go higher. Some economists want the rates to go "significantly" higher — say, 50 percent. Others worry about the impact on economic activity. Still others want tax loopholes and deductions reduced.

McKinnon, however, says there are "few signs" of any changes happening soon.

Email: mdegroote@deseretnews.com Twitter: @degroote