Human Events Blog

In Search Of Millionaires

President Obama’s weary socialist cant consists of endlessly excoriating “millionaires” for not paying “their fair share.”  By “millionaires” he means single filers who make over $200,000 per year.

The Internal Revenue Service released the latest batch of taxpayer data last week, and it turns out there are only 235,000 actual millionaires – that is, people who earn over $1 million annually – in the United States.  Writing at Politico, Jennifer Epstein notes that just 0.1% of the U.S. population qualify as millionaires.

How about if we use the Obama definition of “millionaire” as someone who earns over $200,000 per year?  That gets you up to 3,924,489 returns, or roughly 3% of the population.

If you wanted to clean up the $1.7 trillion Obama budget deficit by raising taxes on millionaires, you would have to charge each of them $7,234,042 in extra taxes per year. 

Most of those 235,000 millionaires don’t make enough to pay $7 million more in annual taxes.  In fact, only 8,274 of them make ten million dollars per year or more.  Balance the deficit on their backs, and you’d have to raise their taxes by $205,462,895 per.  Obviously, very few of the $10 million club makes over two hundred million per year.

Let’s go in the other direction, and choose a larger pool of class enemies, as comrade Obama does.  Divide his $1.7 trillion budget among all of the greedy devils making $200,000 or more per year, and you would only have to raise taxes on each one of them by $433,177 per year.

Damn, that’s not going to work either!  Most of the Two Hundred Grand “millionaires” don’t make half a million bucks per year!

Here’s an interesting statistic from Epstein’s article:

Of the 235,413 taxpayers reporting incomes seven digits or more in 2009, 1,470 paid not a penny of income taxes. In 2007, 959 Americans earning $1 million or more paid no income taxes.

How did that happen?  How can the number of millionaires who don’t pay taxes have radically increased under the wise stewardship of our impeccably progressive “fair share” President?

The short answer is that they took advantage of various shelters and deductions to protect their income from confiscatory taxation.  Wealthy people hire accountants who are very good at this.  Most of these methods of income protection generate less healthy activity for the economy, resulting in reduced productivity and higher unemployment.

Those IRS tables don’t even tell the full story of income and taxation, because the wealthy have assets far in excess of their income.  There are people living in mansions who can honestly report very little annual income at all. 

Now, what do you suppose will happen if you raise tax rates on the people who have been successfully evading high taxes thus far?  Do you think the resulting tax revenue would be much less than tax-and-spend liberals anticipate?  Would you further speculate that taxable activity among the lower ranks of income earners would decrease, as the income of the rich is withdrawn from the economy and locked away in secure tax shelters? 

Would you expect tax avoidance by the rich to become more and more prevalent as the complexity of the tax code increases… while those with more modest incomes found themselves increasingly unable to access the benefits tucked into that massive tax code, because they can’t afford high-powered accountants?

If so, you agree with all of recorded history, but disagree with the socialist brain trust that engineered our insolvent government and chronic double-digit unemployment.  

Sign Up