The Case For More Tax Brackets

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Annie Lowrey continues her campaign for a higher tax bracket or two:

For the past 20 years, the top income tax bracket has started around $370,000, and top marginal tax rate has stayed between 35 and 39.6 percent. But since the mid-1990s, the richest have gotten richer, earning a higher and higher share of all income while paying the same income tax rate as more moderate-income workers.

Indeed they have. I recommend some class warfare here, except that the classes in question will be the well-off, the rich, and the super rich. How about if we reduce the top rate on the well-off (say, those making between $200,000 and $370,000), raise it on the rich (between $370,000 and $1 million), and raise it a bunch on the super rich (over $1 million). If you really want to get ambitious, you could even add yet another bracket that kicks in around, say, $5 million.

Why not? As Annie points out, we used to have more brackets. There’s no law that says everyone over $370,000 should pay the exact same rate, and the supply-side theory that the super rich will lose all their ambition if their tax rates go up is based on essentially no evidence at all. What’s more, the rich and the super rich (not the merely well off) are the ones who have really done well over the past couple of decades, so higher brackets for them make sense. The winners here would be all the lawyers and doctors and accountants in the well-off bracket. The losers would be hedge fund managers, Fortune 500 CEOs, and Goldman Sachs traders in the rich and super-rich brackets.

Which ones would the Republican Party support? We’ll make this all revenue neutral, of course, so they don’t have to break the blood oath that Grover Norquist has forced them all to sign. Want to take a guess?

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DEMOCRACY DOES NOT EXIST...

without free and fair elections, a vigorous free press, and engaged citizens to reclaim power from those who abuse it.

In this election year unlike any other—against a backdrop of a pandemic, an economic crisis, racial reckoning, and so much daily crazy—Mother Jones' journalism is driven by one simple question: Will America will move closer to, or further from, justice and equity in the years to come?

If you're able to, please join us in this mission with a donation today. Our reporting right now is focused on voting rights and election security, corruption, disinformation, racial and gender equity, and the climate crisis. We can’t do it without the support of readers like you, and we need to give it everything we've got between now and November. Thank you.

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