“What a Top Income-Tax Rate of 70% Would Mean for the Economy” (Barron’s) is a bit surprising, considering that the publication is targeted at the same rich investors that would get hit by any tax rate increases. The author points out that the no-extra-tax states aren’t able to gather up all of the rich bastards:
Top-earning Americans have shown surprisingly little appetite to move from high-tax jurisdictions, such as California (top state-tax rate: 13.3%) and New York City (top state and local rate: 12.7%), to states with no income tax. The people who tend to leave California and New York for Nevada and Texas are poor and middle-class workers in search of affordable housing, rather than rich people seeking lower taxes, according to Lyman Stone’s analysis of data from the U.S. Census and the Internal Revenue Service.
Ergo, a person who is getting hit with an 83.3 percent income tax (70% federal plus 13.3% California) will just pay it. As with https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2015/06/01/book-review-the-redistribution-recession/ the article points out that we already have some super high tax rates in the U.S. …. on the poor:
Making matters worse is that “means-tested” benefits are withdrawn as income rises. The net result is that the poor and middle class often face effective marginal tax rates equivalent to or higher than what Ocasio-Cortez has proposed for the rich. According to data from the Congressional Budget Office, a typical married couple with two children pays an effective marginal tax rate of 78% as wages rise from $30,000 to $60,000, while a single parent with one child pays an effective marginal tax rate of 69% as wages rise from $22,000 to $42,000. These implicit taxes are huge disincentives to work and affect many more people than tax proposals aimed at the top 10,000th of the distribution.
(The rate actually reached over 100 percent during the Obama Administration when mortgage payment relief was factored in; see the above link to The Redistribution Recession book review.)
I still think that this is a pipe dream unless capital gains taxes are also raised to 70-83 percent. Otherwise people can just come up with ways to convert ordinary income into capital gains, as was conventional in the 1950s. (And can it really work to have 70-83 percent capital gains taxes in the U.S. when “socialist” Denmark maxes out at 42 percent (Deloitte) and when London is at 10 percent (see https://philip.greenspun.com/blog/2019/01/02/move-to-the-uk-if-youre-an-entrepreneur-10-percent-capital-gains-tax/))?
Readers: What do you think it means when even Barron’s is saying that maybe a 70+ percent tax rate will be optimum? (Of course, as someone who earns less than the proposed income threshold for this new rate, I personally think that a rate of closer to 100 percent would be fair!)