This site has been host to a lot of discussion in recent months about the changing distribution of wealth in America, the relative tax burden we all bear and how that burden ought to be allocated among income groups. But a lot of that debate has gotten bogged down by citations of slanted or incomplete statistics, or statistics that make it hard to compare apples to apples, oranges to oranges.
So I thought I’d try to set some parameters for the debate by laying out the fairest, most definitive statistics I could find on those topics and offering them as a common ground for discussion. Think of this as an effort to establish a common factual basis for debate, something that has become more and more rare.
As a starting point, let’s look at how much household income is paid in total federal taxes. Again, that’s total taxes paid to the federal government — income taxes, payroll taxes, gasoline taxes, excise taxes, capital gains and corporate taxes, estate taxes, etc. That seems the