U.S. Taxes Rates | Wealthiest pay 40% less than 50 years ago while middle class pay roughly the same

Michael Greenstone and Adam Looney of The Hamilton Project – Brookings Institute examine the progressivity of the U.S. tax code and highlight two facts:

  • the current U.S. tax system is less progressive than the tax systems of other industrialized countries, and
  • considerably less progressive today than it was just a few decades ago.

The figure below shows how much influence taxes and transfers have in reducing inequality (measured using a common metric called the “Gini coefficient”) in various countries around the world. As indicated in the chart, the U.S. tax and transfer system does less to counteract pre-tax income inequality than the tax systems of most of our peer countries, meaning that our system is actually less progressive.



In addition to being less progressive relative to other countries, the U.S. tax system has also become less progressive over time. Over the last fifty years, tax rates for the wealthiest Americans have declined by 40 percent, while tax rates for average Americans have remained roughly constant.  This is illustrated in the figure below.


This decline in tax rates for the wealthy has coincided with an increase in income inequality, where most of the wage gains have been concentrated among a relatively small portion of the American people. For example, since 1979, earnings for households in the top 1 percent of the income distribution have risen by over 250 percent. At the same time, many households at the middle and bottom of the income distribution have experienced stagnating incomes or even declines in earnings (figure below, blue bars). This means that the very people who have received the biggest income gains in the past three decades have also seen the largest tax cuts (figure below, red bars).



These estimates may come as a surprise to observers focused on the share of federal taxes paid by high-income individuals, rather than the tax rates that those individuals face.  Without a doubt, the share of taxes paid by high-income individuals has increased. But the reason why the share of taxes paid by the top 10 percent has increased is because their share of income has increased.

Source: Adapted excerpts by Job Market Monitor from

via Just How Progressive Is the U.S. Tax Code? – Up Front Blog – Brookings Institution.


13 thoughts on “U.S. Taxes Rates | Wealthiest pay 40% less than 50 years ago while middle class pay roughly the same

  1. Reblogged this on ZYNKIN NEWS and commented:
    I wonder what this article will read like in a years time or Less!

    Posted by Z | October 19, 2012, 8:16 am
  2. Hey there, You’ve done a fantastic job. I will definitely digg it and personally suggest to my friends. I am sure they will be benefited from this website.

    Posted by Maybelle | April 10, 2013, 6:50 am


  1. Pingback: U.S. | Measuring the increase in income inequality before-tax and after-tax « Global Job Gap, Local Skills Gap - April 16, 2012

  2. Pingback: Georgia | Some of highest income taxes on the working poor « Global Job Gap, Local Skills Gap - April 17, 2012

  3. Pingback: It’s the economy, not the taxe code, which generates inequalities « Global Job Gap, Local Skills Gap - April 24, 2012

  4. Pingback: Inequalities in America – 288 times times richer « Job Market Monitor - September 11, 2012

  5. Pingback: US | Wealthy | Would a tax hike cost 700,000 jobs ? « Job Market Monitor - November 9, 2012

  6. Pingback: Unemployment Insurance / Its Importance for American Families and the Economy « Job Market Monitor - December 4, 2012

  7. Pingback: Top 1% Earners / In What Field Do They Majored In ? « Job Market Monitor - January 2, 2013

  8. Pingback: US / Middle-Class Employment Problems: Central challenge of Obama’s second term « Job Market Monitor - January 14, 2013

  9. Pingback: US / Middle Class More Anxious than Aspirational poll says | Job Market Monitor - April 27, 2013

  10. Pingback: Progressive Taxes in US – An historical chart | Job Market Monitor - May 14, 2014

  11. Pingback: Great Britain – The wealthiest 10% of households owned 44% of total aggregate household wealth, the least wealthy half 9% | Job Market Monitor - May 16, 2014

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

Jobs – Offres d’emploi – US & Canada (Eng. & Fr.)

The Most Popular Job Search Tools

Even More Objectives Statements to customize

Cover Letters – Tools, Tips and Free Cover Letter Templates for Microsoft Office

Follow Job Market Monitor on

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Follow Job Market Monitor via Twitter



%d bloggers like this: