The starting point for this page is the Make Your Own Tax Plan page from TaxJusticeNow, the Web site created by U-C Berkeley economics professors Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman to demystify and popularize the ideas in their 2019 book, The Triumph of Injustice: How the Rich Dodge Taxes and How to Make Them Pay (available via this link to the publisher, if you’d like to bypass Amazon).
The graph from that page shown below breaks down current U.S. tax incidence by income groups for 8 tax types (income, payroll, etc.). Actually, 10 tax categories are shown, since private health insurance is included as an extra tax, as is a new, null tax category, “National Income,” whose meaning isn’t clear at present. (We also apologize for the hard-to-read graph quality.)
Importantly, rather than the usual 10 income deciles, the TaxJusticeNow charts use 13 groups, since they break down the top 1% of households into four successively wealthier categories: the top 1% (which Saez and Zucman call the 99%, as in percentile), the top 0.1%, the top 0.01%, and the top 400 families.
The significance lies in both the extraordinarily outsize wealth of the increasingly wealthy strata and their ability to shield their income from taxation. Thus, whereas the top 0.1% and 0.01% groups — literally, the wealthiest one in a thousand and one in ten thousand families — currently pay 30-35 percent of their income in taxes, the top 400, who, we could say, punch 10,000 times above their weight (since they make up only 0.0003% of households but hold 3 percent of U.S. wealth), pay a tax rate of just 23 percent, on average.
The baseline graph above depicts current (2018-2019) U.S. taxation. The TaxJusticeNow site outputs analogous graphs for the Warren and Sanders tax plans (which Profs. Saez and Zucman helped craft), for a “Triumph of Injustice’s Tax Plan” that presumably captures the professors’ preferences, and for tax plans of the user’s own devise.
The next graph is the Saez-Zucman break down for Sen. Warren’s plan. The wealth tax, depicted in deep blue in the graph’s lower right, kicks in only for the top 0.1% of families. The Health Insurance “tax” is the vanishingly thin pink band at the top, reflecting Warren’s intent to pay for universal health coverage almost entirely by raising wealth and other taxes on the super-rich.
[More coming soon on this new page, begun Dec 16, 2019.]