A Belated Defense of Giuliani’s Tax Policy

My pick for the Presidential race, Giuliani, has bowed out. I like his tax policies. Not that I thought that he could get them adopted, just that I thought that he could achieve what Bush achieved–slightly lower marginal and average taxes for 10 more years. Before you write me off as an elitist who doesn’t like graduated income taxes (which I don’t deny–but bear with me), I agree with Laffer on this point. Taxes are above the monopoly rate. This is expected since there are four (or more) toll takers: Federal income taxes, state income or sales taxes, county sales and/or property taxes, and city sales, income and/or property taxes. When you add up the various employer and employee taxes (federal only) on receiving the last dollar (ignoring the sales and capital gains taxes associated with saving or spending it), they add up in the top bracket to 35% federal + 2.9% Medicare including employer match. That is, if I get $100 in gross in the top tax bracket, I’ll have to pay $36.45 in tax and my employer will have to pay $1.45. If we frame the percentage like sales tax, I am taking home $63.55 and together, my employer and I are paying $37.90. That is a equivalent to a 59.6% sales tax on everything I buy. In other words, to get a dollar, we have to pay 59.6 cents to the government. I assert that this portion of total taxation alone is above the monopoly rate. Tax cutters would have a very easy time getting tax rates cut (and, perhaps counter intuitively, taxes increased) if they could re-frame the tax code to show tax as a percentage of net income at the margin instead of gross.

Do we really despise envy so much that we would rather have the rich indulge in additional leisure than provide the maximum amount to the Treasury?

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