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Are Wealthy Americans Paying Enough in Taxes?

Posted on 22 April 2011

In an April 13th speech describing his plan to reduce the country’s then $14 trillion debt, President Obama singled out the wealthy as a large part of the solution.

“In December, I agreed to extend the tax cuts for the wealthiest Americans because it was the only way I could prevent a tax hike on middle-class Americans,” said the President. “But we cannot afford $1 trillion worth of tax cuts for every millionaire and billionaire in our society.” The President later pointed to “millionaires and billionaires” again, and called for policies that would raise taxes on “the wealthiest 2 percent of Americans.”

So who is this wealthy 2 percent, and how much do they currently pay in taxes?

In 2008, the income cutoff to be in the top 2 percent was about $253,000. The top 2 percent of taxpayers provided 46 percent of all federal income taxes (see chart below). The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers—representing nearly 70 million tax returns—provided 3 percent of all federal income taxes.

For more, be sure to check out our national advertisement on “taxing our way out of debt.”