New study reveals 50 years of tax breaks favor wealthy

Estimates Tax cuts for Wealthy Individuals between 2001-2008 Cost U.S. Treasury $700 Billion

Recent Poll Shows Majority of Americans in Both Political Parties Favor Increased Taxes on Wealthy Americans

Contact: Kristi Ceccarossi, 617-477-8630, ext. 307, kristi@wealthforcommongood.org

Boston, MA, April 6, 2010– In the wake of a Quinnipiac University poll which found that 60 percent of Americans in both major political parties are in favor of raising income taxes on households making more than $250,000, a new report released today exposes how increases in tax breaks over the past 50 years have favored the most affluent. The report also details an Economic Tax Recovery Plan that would raise $450 billion in revenue by ending unfair tax benefits to the wealthiest Americans. Download the report.

The study, commissioned by Wealth for the Common Good (WFCG), an organization of high-net worth individuals and business leaders, shows in the last decade alone, individuals with incomes over $250,000 have received more than $700 billion in tax cuts.

Key Findings in the report include:
Over the last half-century, America’s wealthiest taxpayers have seen their tax outlays, as a share of income, drop by as much as two-thirds for the highest-income grouping the IRS tracks. During the same period, the tax outlay for middle-class Americans has not decreased.

America’s highest earners — the top 400 — have seen their share of income paid in federal income tax plummet from 51.2 percent in 1955 to 16.6 percent in 2007, the most recent year with top 400 statistics available.

Tax cuts for the wealthy between 2001-2008 cost the U.S. Treasury $700 billion and were added directly to the national debt. Retaining these tax cuts for another decade will cost an additional $826 billion.

“After 50 years of tax cuts by Kennedy, Reagan and Bush II, the middle class is paying the same share of income as they did in 1960.  The richest 3 percent have gotten the gargantuan share of tax cuts,” said Chuck Collins, co-founder of WFCG.

Authors of the study propose an “Economic Recovery Tax Program,” which they project will collect some $450 billion in new revenue for the federal government through tax increases only on individuals with household incomes of over household incomes of over $250,000. This program would also discourage financial speculation, strengthen the overall economy, and introduce greater transparency, fairness, and simplicity to the tax code.

This report is part of a larger campaign by Wealth for the Common Good to end the Bush era tax cuts, which the group says could generate some $45 billion annually in federal revenue. Nearly 300 of America’s top-earners, along with thousands of other Americans, have signed the group’s on-line petition calling on Congress and President Obama to let tax cuts on high-income taxpayers to expire at the end of 2010.