Tuesday, April 09, 2002

Richest pay half of tax bill

By Curt Anderson
The Associated Press

        WASHINGTON — Another way the rich are different: They pay the lion's share of the nation's income tax bill. The wealthiest 5 percent pay more than half the taxes, while the bottom half pays just 4 percent.

        The annual federal tax deadline for most Americans is Monday.

        President Bush's tax cut will prevent the wealthy from paying an even greater share in coming years. But key provisions, such as the gradual doubling of the child tax credit, will reduce or eliminate income taxes for many middle-income people, while the rich won't qualify.

        For 1999, the most recent year for which complete Internal Revenue Service statistics are available, 6.3 million taxpayers whose incomes were in the top 5 percent paid more than 55 percent of all income taxes. They had incomes above $120,846 a year — meaning spouses could each earn a bit over $60,000 and be considered among the nation's richest.

        “It's very easy to move into the top echelon of taxpayers,” said Scott Hodge, executive director of the Tax Foundation, a nonpartisan group. “This trend is not going to reverse.”

        The wealthiest 1 percent — those earning $293,415 and up — paid over a third of the taxes.

        Taxpayers in the bottom half paid 4 percent of the income taxes in 1999. These 63 million taxpayers earned, on average, less than $26,415 a year.


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