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You are so far off the original point it's tempting to not respond. The original point was that the income tax was 90% in the 1970s, which is correct.
I'm sorry, but no, that is not correct. Income tax in the 1970's was approximately 70% on the top marginal tax bracket, which is net income over about $200,000. During that same period, the bottom marginal tax bracket was 14% on net income up to around $1000. These numbers are clearly defined in the previous document that I posted ( http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax... ) on rows 66-75.
So, a person making $250,000 in 1970 would have paid 14% tax on his first $1000 of net income and 71.75% tax on his last $50,000 of net income. That is, by definition, a progressive tax.
Please see the following document, which details the tax base, brackets, and rates for the top and bottom marginal tax brackets from 1913 - 2012. This is provided directly by the IRS and is thoroughly sourced at the bottom:
I'm not trying to be insulting by using the word "misinformed", so if I have been I apologize. I'm just trying to convey that historic income taxation in the USA since 1913 has operated using progressive marginal tax brackets. Some periods have been more or less progressive than others, but there has never been a period since 1913 when progressive marginal tax brackets were not used.
On page five (of the PDF):
Tax policy analysts often use two concepts of tax rates. The first is the marginal tax rate or the tax
rate on the last dollar of income. If a taxpayer’s income were to increase by $1, the marginal tax
rate indicates what proportion of that dollar would be paid in taxes. The highest marginal tax rate
is referred to as the top marginal tax rate...
Although the statutory top marginal tax rate was over 90% in the 1950s, the average tax rate for the highest income taxpayers was much lower. The average tax rates at five-year intervals since 1945 for the top 0.1% and top 0.01% of taxpayers are shown in Figure 1. The average tax rate for the top 0.01% (one taxpayer in 10,000) was about 60% in 1945 and fell to 24.2% by 1990.
We've had marginal tax brackets for a long time.
You're taxed 1% upon the amount of your total income that exceeds $20k and does not exceed $50k. I don't know how to phrase it more clearly. This is relatively straightforward language for a statute.
1 per centum per annum upon the amount by which the total net in-come exceeds $20,000 and does not exceed $50,000, and 2 per centum per annum upon the amount by which the total net income exceeds $50,000 and does not exceed $75,000
That means 1% tax on any income within the bracket of $20k to $50k and 2% tax on any income within the bracket of $50k to $75k.
1% tax on your income between $20k and $50k
2% tax on your income between $50k and $75k
3% tax on your income between $75k and $100k
4% tax on your income between $100k and $250k
5% tax on your income between $250k and $500k
6% tax on your income above $500k
It works the same way now, and it worked the same way in 1970, just with different brackets and different rates.
The "progressive" tax was not part of US tax law until more recent times. Read tax laws from 1890-1970, it should take all of an hour to read them all, probably twice.
I did a hefty amount of writing on the subject many years ago, and I'll give you a hint. Historical Tax law and rate schedules are freely available from a
This is the original text of the United States Revenue Act of 1913, which was the first income tax passed after the ratification of the 16th amendment:
The section on income tax starts on Pg. 53 (of the PDF) and explicitly includes marginal tax brackets. Back then it was an additional 1% of your income in each successive bracket.
Marginal tax brackets have been a part of American income tax since it first became constitutional.
The Tax code is public information, please go read it instead of presenting an absolute fairy tale and claiming that people disbelieving that fantasy are under a misconception as an appeal to emotion.
"Tax brackets are the divisions at which tax rates change in a progressive tax system (or an explicitly regressive tax system, although this is much rarer). Essentially, they are the cutoff values for taxable income — income past a certain point will be taxed at a higher rate."
It's called marginal taxation and it's the underpinning of progressive taxation. This is not a fairy tale, it's reality.
I agree with everything else in your post, I just wanted to correct this misconception.
Many people believe that it is an ethical imperative when such conditions exist in a country where billionaires also exist that the inequality be reduced to the point where the poorest people are no longer starving or dying of easily preventable illness.
This is not exactly true and is a common misconception. In reality, anyone making $1 million or more a year was paying 90% income tax only on the income exceeding $1 million. All income below $1 million was taxed at a rate corresponding to each income bracket.
This is how it works now too. If you get a raise and it puts you over the line into a new tax bracket, only the income that exceeds that line will be taxed in the new bracket. All other income below the line will be taxed in its original bracket.