News & Politics

Most Americans Paying Less Taxes Now Than in the 80s, But the Poor Get No Break

The have-nots get screwed while the haves complain about them. America!

Photo Credit:

Lord help us. Will we never get out from under the thumb of Mitt Romney’s “47%” comment, or more broadly the idea that “it seems like there’s an awful lot of people in the United States who don’t pay any taxes”?

That quote comes from a small business owner interviewed in a recent New York Times article, and it’s indicative of how many people in the U.S. feel these days: that the middle class is paying higher taxes than ever while other citizens – “them” – are slacking off.

That frustration is understandable when aimed at wealthy Americans, but much less so when directed at low-income citizens. As the article points out, most U.S. citizens actually paid much less in total taxes in 2010 than they would have several decades ago. But the poor have gotten few breaks.

According to an analysis by The New York Times, the combination of all income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of [Americans’] income than it took from households with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980.

Households earning more than $200,000 benefited from the largest percentage declines in total taxation as a share of income. Middle-income households benefited, too. More than 85 percent of households with earnings above $25,000 paid less in total taxes than comparable households in 1980.

Low-income households, on the other hand, “saved little or nothing.”

Many pay no federal income taxes, but they do pay a range of other levies, like federal payroll taxes, state sales taxes and local property taxes. Only about half of taxpaying households with incomes below $25,000 paid less in 2010.”

The have-nots get screwed while the haves complain about them. America!

Lauren Kelley is the activism and gender editor at AlterNet and a freelance journalist based in New York City. Her work has appeared in Salon, Time Out New York, the L Magazine, and other publications. Follow her on Twitter.
Sign Up!
Get AlterNet's Daily Newsletter in Your Inbox
+ sign up for additional lists
Select additional lists by selecting the checkboxes below before clicking Subscribe:
Election 2018