Truthout: Who REALLY Pays Taxes

-By Richard D Wolff

January 30, 2012- As US capitalism suffers from a crisis now in its fifth year with no end in sight, the Republican presidential candidates and Obama endlessly repeat cheerleading for the system as if it were, as usual, beyond question or criticism. Obama's State of the Union Speech at least found campaign fodder in referring to income inequality.

He tried to make political use of what the Occupy movement inserted onto the mass public consciousness so powerfully last autumn.

Obama even suggested a 30 percent minimum tax on those earning $1 million or more annually.The details of that suggestion remain murky with little chance that the kinds of Congresses recently elected would pass it. In any case, Obama's suggested 30 percent minimum tax would still remain far, far below the much higher individual income tax rates that the richest Americans had to pay in the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s and 1970s.

Immediately after the speech, right-wing economists, journalists, and other spokespeople for the 1 percent swung into action to attack. They clearly want to keep the public's awareness and public discussion away from the income and tax issues that the Occupy movement made so important and urgent. They resent the president for even raising issues of fairness and taxation, however modestly.

That usually happens when taxes and justice get discussed in the same public conversation. Stretching the truth gives way to more or less gross lying, and never more so than during election campaigns.

So, a minimal fact check on federal taxes in the US might help folks avoid being easily misled.

The table below summarizes the last 75 years to show what happened to the three most important tax revenues collected by Washington (accounting for over 90 percent of total tax revenues now):

Here are some key truths revealed by these statistics gathered and published by the US government:

After the Great Depression and during World War II, the US government collected relatively much more from corporations than from individuals. Then, too, we were also closely allied with the USSR. How times change! To think that Washington placed heavier taxes on corporations than on individuals! Clearly, corporations would prefer we forget or never encounter that past reality lest it suggest something for consideration now.

After the War, corporations went to work to change the federal tax system. Not only did they succeed in shifting the tax burden from corporations to individuals already by 1960, but that shifting has gone on steadily to the present.


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