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Moaning About Taxes? Read This

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A comprehensive analysis of the all taxes paid by Americans shows that every American income group except the poor and lower middle-class is paying substantially less than it did in the 1980's.

The big winners -- in dollars and percentages? Why the rich, of course.

Published in today's New York Times, the article by Binyamin Appelbaum and Robert Gebeloff establishes a powerful context for Democratic arguments that taxes on the wealthiest Americans must rise both for reasons of fairness and in order to sustain government. It explains much of why this country has fallen so deeply into debt. And it raises reasonable statistical arguments why not only the really rich, but those earning more than $100,000 should pay somewhat more in taxes in the years ahead.

But the big winners are those earning more than $350,000 a year -- the so-called top 1 percent. This group has seen the overall percentage of taxes it pays drop by almost 15 percent in the last 30 years compared to about 5 percent for the poor, The Times reports.

For a family earning exactly $350,000, taxes in 2010 were $24,100 less than they were in 1980, The Times reports. Millionaires, naturally, would have saved much, much more.

For the American household with an income of $52,000 -- the median or midpoint of earnings -- the savings were about $1,500.

What makes this piece so convincing is that the reporters didn't just look at federal income taxes, which they point out account for less than a third of total tax revenues collected. They looked at all federal, state and local taxes. But clearly it is cuts in these federal taxes that have done much to sink the country neck deep in debt.

Write the authors:

Over the last decade, annual revenues from federal taxation of individual and corporate income averaged just 9.2 percent of the nation's gross domestic product, the lowest level for any 10-year period since World War II. ... The government on average would have collected an additional $800 billion in each year from 2006 to 2010 if the 1980 code had remained in effect.

Noticeably absent from this excellent reporting is one element of the decline of revenues -- the increasing pace at which corporations are dodging taxes by legally laundering their profits offshore.

The FACTCOALITION of the Tax Justice Network estimates that U.S. corporate tax revenue as a share of this country's GDP (Gross Domestic Product) has declined from 7.2 percent in 1945 to 1.3 percent in 2011.

Yet tax reform for the corporate sector rarely if ever gets mentioned in ongoing "fiscal cliff" negotiations. Could this have anything to do with the fact that the politicians of both parties spend millions in their campaigns funneled from the very corporations they're supposed to be regulating?

I'll let you decide.