Hodge at Economic Club: U.S. Tax Policy More Progressive Than You Think

Scott Hodge, president of the Tax Foundation, spoke to the Economic Club of Indiana today in Indianapolis. He offered some enlightening quotes:

  • "According to the Paris-based Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the U.S. has a more progressive tax system than Sweden or France or many other European countries we associate with oppressive tax systems. The U.S. already places a higher income tax burden on the top 10% of taxpayers than any industrialized country."
  • The irony is this:  "Despite the fact that we try more than any other country to use the tax code to reduce inequality, the OECD found that we have one of the highest levels of inequality among industrialized countries. Only Portugal, Turkey, and Mexico have higher levels of inequality."
  • "According to Gallup, 68% of Americans think wealth should be more evenly distributed and 51% think that should be done via higher taxes on the rich. Yet in 1939, only 39% favored higher taxes on the rich."
  • "One-third of all so-called taxpayers pay zero in income taxes because of the generosity of the credits and deductions that are currently in the tax code. Many of these folks not only don’t have an income tax liability, but they receive generous cash payments through “refundable” tax programs such as the Earned Income Tax Credit. In fact, the government gives out more than $50 billion in these refundable tax credits each year; in essence, we’ve turned the IRS into an ATM machine for welfare benefits."
  • "Despite what you hear from Warren Buffett, the rich are paying the lion’s share of all federal taxes in America – not just income taxes. Households earning over $200,000 now pay a greater share of the total federal tax burden (income, payroll, corporate, excises) (45 percent) than the bottom 90 percent of households combined. To put that in context, there are only about 2 million households earning over $200,000 compared to the 122 million taxpayers who comprise the bottom 90 percent." 
  • Additionally, when asked about the proposed property tax caps in Indiana (in which individuals pay 1% and businesses pay 3%), he asserts: "There’s an obvious inequity there. Seems like we always want to stick it to businesses. But there’s a misconception that we can put all these taxes on the business community and it’s a victimless crime. Businesses don’t pay taxes, people do."

For information on future Economic Club of Indiana luncheons, please visit the club’s web site.