Thomas Sowell

In 1920, when the top tax rate was 73 percent, for people making over $100,000 a year, the federal government collected just over $700 million in income taxes-- and 30 percent of that was paid by people making over $100,000. After a series of tax cuts brought the top rate down to 24 percent, the federal government collected more than a billion dollars in income tax revenue-- and people making over $100,000 a year now paid 65 percent of the taxes.

How could that be? The answer is simple: People behave differently when tax rates are high as compared to when they are low. With low tax rates, they take their money out of tax shelters and put it to work in the economy, benefitting themselves, the economy and government, which collects more money in taxes because incomes rise.

High tax rates which very few people are actually paying, because of tax shelters, do not bring in as much revenue as lower tax rates that people are paying. It was much the same story after tax cuts during the Kennedy administration, the Reagan administration and the Bush Administration.

The New York Times reported in 2006: "An unexpectedly steep rise in tax revenues from corporations and the wealthy is driving down the projected budget deficit this year."

Expectations are in the eyes of the beholder-- and in the rhetoric of the demagogues. If class warfare is more important to some politicians than collecting more revenue when there is a deficit, then let the voters know that.

And spare us so-called "deficit reduction commissions."


Thomas Sowell

Thomas Sowell is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institute and author of The Housing Boom and Bust.

Creators Syndicate