Hey Bernie – top 1% pays 40% of all fed taxes!

By John McClaughry

Sen. Bernie Sanders has made a career out of claiming that rich people aren’t paying their fair share of income taxes. But I don’t ever recall Bernie actually citing Federal income tax data to back up his charges.

Last year the Tax Foundation’s Erica York published some real data from the Internal Revenue Service.

“Since 2001, the share of federal income taxes paid by the top 1 percent increased from 33.2 percent to a new high of 40.1 percent in 2018.

I can remember explaining thirty years ago that the Reagan tax rate cuts of 1981 that Bernie so despised resulted in the top ten percent shouldering far more of the income tax burden than it had up to that time.

The Tax Foundation reported that in 2018, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97.1 percent of all individual income taxes, while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 2.9 percent. She didn’t give data for the bottom forty percent, but I’m willing to bet that they together paid zero percent of Federal income taxes.

The top 1 percent of federal income taxpayers paid a greater share of individual income taxes (40.1 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (28.6 percent).

You probably won’t remember all those percentages, but take it from me: the rich have paid steadily more of Federal income tax revenues over the past 40 years, and the bottom half are now paying almost nothing.

The author, a Kirby resident, is founder and vice-president of the Ethan Allen Institute. To read all EAI news and commentary, go to www.ethanallen.org.

16 replies »

  1. What do ya wanna bet Dirty Bernie’s got his top 1% graft squirreled away in his mattress and off-shore bank account’s…He’s a useless 60’s socialist bum who hasn’t worked a day in his life save for screwing taxpayers out of their earnings.

  2. Since when is Bernie Sanders one to let an inconvenience like facts to get in the way of his agenda ?

  3. Direct the hatred at the source to be most effective in messaging: The people who have studied toward advanced degrees, were gifted God-given talents & skills, and/or who don’t mind working their buns off to achieve success & financial independence & wealth. That dastardly bunch!

  4. Sanders, the marxist, won’t be happy until all of the income is confiscated from those that pay 100% of income taxes (about 40% of all US households)… so, 60% of US households pay NO federal income tax…. and somehow that is their “fair share”. This is the same Senator that claims he is an “independent” party and fools many of the citizenry with this claim. He’s a modern day Vladimir Lenin, a Marxist. Someone who covets your personal property and aims to steal it.

    • I doubt Mr. McClaughry would get a chance to speak. sanders only does repetitive monologues.

  5. The top 1% own 16X more than the bottom 50%:


    And the oligarchs are only accumulating more of the pie:


    I’m not for higher taxes on the poor.

    But the USA is now pretty much run by Oligarchs and corporations.

    And crony capitalism has now led to a very few having most all of the wealth.

    It is a major problem.

    • Your perspective continues to be an economic over-simplification.

      First, increasing taxes doesn’t correlate with prosperity.

      As it is today, the U.S. is receiving more tax revenue than at any other time in its history. Unfortunately, much of it is being invested by guys like Bernie Sanders who have no idea how to invest wisely nor do they accept personal responsibility for their failed actions.

      Why take money from those who know how to invest it for maximum return (returns that benefit everyone by developing technological advance and employment), and give it to those who demonstrate over and again that they don’t know how to invest it wisely while still taking their piece of the pie?

      Property ownership comes with reciprocal risk. If the property isn’t invested wisely (a significant responsibility and risk), the value of that property declines.

      And property ownership does not correlate with income. Consider the 4th generation dairy farmer with family land that is appraised at a value far in excess of the income derived from its use as a dairy farm. Consider the small family businesses that provided (until the Covid fiasco and expansion of the size of government) the majority of jobs in the U.S..

      We can confiscate everything the wealthiest 10% own, all of it – from Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Buffett and all the others, and it will fund our excessive government spending for less than a year. Never mind that they are already paying most of the taxes as it is, and that taking away their property will stop them from paying any tax at all. Talk about cutting off one’s nose to spite their face.

      Crony Capitalism IS the problem. But as long as the ‘bottom 50%’ of the people (by far the majority voting bloc in the country) continue to elect corrupt officials like Bernie Sanders, we have only ourselves

      • When the top 400 wealthiest Americans own more than all US black families combined, their is an income distribution problem in the US:


        Our financial system has morphed/led ALL of us (Bernie Sanders supporter or not) into NeoFeudalism:

        From Wikipedia:

        Neo-feudalism or new feudalism is a theorized contemporary rebirth of policies of governance, economy, and public life, reminiscent of those which were present in many feudal societies. Such aspects include, but are not limited to: Unequal rights and legal protections for common people and for nobility,[1] dominance of societies by small and powerful elitist groups, and relations of lordship and serfdom between the rich and the poor.

        A relative few own most of the wealth in the US (and world), and hundreds of millions of US citizens are now being priced out of housing and can’t afford even their basic needs without government assistance.
        Because wages have nowhere near kept up with the inflation that has been created by the Fed and government over the past 50+ years.

        Now the powers that be and have been (Republicans and Democrats are both birds of the same wing) have led us to the edge of hyperinflation and financial collapse.

        (There is a very good chance our dear “leaders” from both parties will start a war to distract us and blame the financial collapse on Russia if the financial system is going to collapse.)

        The US is the largest debtor nation in history and partially because of our dear leader’s ineptness in handling this pandemic, starting with Trump and Fauci, which is now still going strong after the Trillions of $$ printed and handed out to Corporations to do stock buybacks and refinance their debts and hundreds of Billions of $$ to Big Pharma on ineffective vaccines, the wheels of the financial system are closer than ever to falling off.

        What happens when the market corrects/collapses next time? (It could be soon. Or still a ways off. But corrections/crashes always come. The market is by far the most overvalued that it has been in history.)

        Perhaps the Fed lets the market and economy collapse and we will have a massive deflationary crash that causes massive unemployment and business failure?

        While destroying all the pension systems and everyone’s savings.

        Or do they print $10 Trillion with a capital T (or thereabouts) to save the system once again?

        And go to negative interest rates?

        (Which is a real danger to ALL of us. If cash is banned and negative interest rates are charged on our digital $$, well, you can probably see the issue.)


        Printing Trillions more and negative interest rates might extend the life of the system.

        But inflation would continue to grow out of control as workers need more wages just to be able to pay rent and eat.
        And rent and food would just continue to get more expensive.

        You say I oversimplify.

        I say there is a bigger picture to look at from many angles.

        The whole system is corrupt.

        As you point out, “We can confiscate everything the wealthiest 10% own, all of it – from Bill Gates, Elon Musk, Bezos, Zuckerberg, Buffett and all the others, and it will fund our excessive government spending for less than a year.”

        I agree.

        Just taxing those guys isn’t going to fix the problems we have.

        It is still an undeniable fact that those guys have most of the $$$ in the system we have now.

        America, we have a problem.

      • Jay,

        If the minimum wage were increased to $15/hour, it would merely be equivalent to the buying power of the $1/hour I WAS PAID IN 1959 and 1960 and 1961

        The $15/hour would set a base, and should cover EVERY WORKER.

      • Raising the minimum wage is economic ‘window dressing’ – political ‘pillow arranging’. In fact, it has the opposite effect of its intended goal.

        Because wages are relative, when a low-income cohort’s pay is arbitrarily raised, let’s say from $12 to $15 per hour (25%), those already earning $15 per hour (because they are more productive than those lower wage earners in the first place) will demand a commensurate wage increase. If a percentage comparison is made (and it usually is – just ask the teacher unions), those already earning $15 per hour will demand $18.75 per hour (a 25% increase). And teachers, for example, already earning on average more than $30 per hour (not counting benefits) will demand more than $40 per hour. And so on and so forth.

        So, the low income $12 per hour worker gets a $3 per hour raise and the teacher gets a $10 per hour raise (again, not including benefits).

        And don’t let anyone tell you that’s not the way the economy works. I’ve been an employer for 50 years now and I can assure you, that’s the way it works. That’s the way it has always worked. And that’s why the disparity of wages earned continues to increase.

        Anyone who understands basic math can see that if the goal is to less the disparity of wages, then mandating an across-the-board decrease in wages, let’s say by 10%, better achieves the goal. The low income $12 per hour worker makes only $1.20 per hour less while the teacher looses more than twice that, from $30 per hour to $27 per hour.

        No matter what the reality, it’s called ‘wage and price controls’. It didn’t work under Nixon, Ford, and Carter. It didn’t work in the U.S.S.R., East Germany, N. Korea, Venezuela, Cuba, or anywhere else it’s been foisted on a naive public. It doesn’t work today.

        All that raising the minimum wage does is disproportionately increase the cost-of-living by more than the actual growth in resulting purchasing power, because not only do wages increase disproportionately, so too do all the costs connected to higher wages – taxes, unemployment insurance costs, general liability insurance costs, social security, and Medicare/Medicaid costs, to name a few.

        It’s what happens when the inmates are running the asylum.

  6. Beginning in March 2020, the greatest wealth transfer in history has been taking place:


    The Fed printed trillions to their rich buddies which the Corporation’s used to buy back their stocks to run up their stock price values to further make the 1% of the 1% crazy rich and to keep the charade going for awhile longer.

    And to buy up all the housing pushing the price of housing up. (With $$ printed out of thin air by the Fed and handed to banks which loaned them to corporations at near 0% interest.)
    Somebody will have to pay for the Trillions the government has spent enriching themselves and their cronies.

    My bet is it won’t be the one’s who are making and enforcing the rules.

    My bet is the weight of the yoke our leaders have put on ALL of us, by using the Fed credit card to spend the next few generations money, will continue to fall disproportionately on those who are just trying to survive in the rigged system that they were born into.

  7. Career bureaucrats and allied politicians dug their way to the vault decades ago
    They are addicted to federal money, and do not want the vault moved, or curtailed in any way.

    They will fight tooth and nail to keep it that way.

    The BBB bill is just the latest “PROMISED-LAND/NIRVANA vault, which seems out of reach, because national hero Manchin said no, enough is enough.

    His poll numbers are near an all time high in West Virginia, his home state.


    I am not surprised at the lack of public trust in Washington, DC, and elsewhere. The games of smoke and mirrors played in Washington are off-the-charts outrageous.

    Never, ever, has there been such a level of deceit, as Democrats have inflicted on the US People, since January 2021, using a controversial election in 2020 (see Appendix), to obtain government power, to relentlessly implement:

    – An increased size and intrusiveness of the federal government
    – A major change in US demographics by means of just-walk-in, anybody-is-welcome, open borders
    – Increased Democrat command/control over the federal government and the American people to “Remake America”

    However, Dem/Progs made a major mistake.

    – They intended to use top-down, command/control of the very-inefficient federal government to very-expensively “Remake America”.
    – Their strategy is a highly un-American approach, significantly different from the history of US economic development.
    – They never mentioned the words “private enterprise”.

    In contrast, Trump’s “Make America Great Again” specifically did not rely on government. MAGA relied on:

    – Eliminating business-stifling government rules and regulations
    – Freeing up the creative energies of the American people
    – Putting America and the American people first again, within secure borders

    BBB Intended and Unintended Consequences

    The BBB bill has a dual-purpose, 1) a society-transforming increase in social program spending, and 2) remaking the US energy sector. Democrats aim to use BBB to promote political patronage and transfers of wealth from lower- and middle-income taxpayers in red states, to upper middle-class and wealthy residents in blue states.

    This approach is anything but progressive and likely would be reversed after the next election. See URL

    BBB would:

    1) Increase US energy costs, because of increased, already-generous subsidies (tax credits, rebates, grants) for:

    – Unreliable, weather/wind/sun-dependent, variable/intermittent wind and solar energy, which would end up greatly increasing the costs of dealing with grid instabilities, as has happened in Germany, etc., which has the highest household electric rates in Europe. The increased subsidies largely would benefit wealthy, Democrat, coastal elites.

    – Expensive/unaffordable/less-useful electric vehicles, that are known to surprise by catching fire, 2) perform poorly and have low efficiency in colder climates.

    According to University of Chicago research, most of the $18 billion in federal income tax credits disbursed to date were used for, a) weatherization of U.S. households, b) residential net-metered solar that produces extremely expensive electricity, and c) electric vehicles, including wasteful government experiments with electric school and transit buses.

    2) Provide a tax cut for higher-income households, in mostly high-tax, blue states, by increasing the state and local tax deduction (SALT) from $10,000 to $80,000

  8. BBB Bill “Shaping” and Cost Estimating

    The cost of the original BBB bill was $6.0 trillion, as crafted by extreme-leftist Sanders, Chairman of the US Senate Budget Committee. When his proposals proved to be a non-starter, he was told to “whittle it down” to an alleged $3.5 trillion, which, he declared, was the “absolute minimum”. See Note.

    Whittled down means, he shortened the duration of some programs from 10 years to 1 year, or 2 years, etc., as explained in next sections. See table 4

    NOTE: Sanders is a life-long admirer of Big-Government Communism and Socialism, who celebrated his honeymoon in the USSR, i.e., before the Iron Curtain came down

    BBB Overwhelmingly a Big-Government Social Program Bill

    The cost of 16 social programs would be $3.477 trillion, or 77.5% of $4.490 trillion, if all programs last 10 years
    Two of the 16 social programs would represent 67.3% of the social program cost. See table 1

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