Canada: Low-tax haven for fleeing Americans
Posted: April 13, 2009, 3:15 PM by NP Editor
Kelly McParland, Full Comment U.S. politics
Below are some alarming tax numbers from Ari Fleischer, a former press secretary in the Bush administration, as printed in the Wall Street Journal.
Fleischer notes that the highest-earning 10% of the country already pays almost 73% of U.S. income taxes. The number of Americans who pay no tax is over 40% and heading for 50%. When that happens, there will be a permanent, built-in majority opposed to any changes that require more taxes, other than further increases on the top earners. The same permanent majority can be expected to favour more and more public spending, since they won't have to pay for any of it. It's not hard to guess what that will do to the U.S. budget, not to mention the deficit. You have to wonder whether, by the end of the Obama era, Americans will be looking north with envious eyes towards Canada, as a low-tax haven.
As a result of the 2001 tax cuts enacted by a bipartisan Congress and signed by President George W. Bush, the share of taxes paid by the top 10% increased to 72.8% in 2005 from 67.8% in 2001, according to the latest data from the Congressional Budget Office (CBO).
Contrary to the myth that Mr. Bush cut taxes only for the wealthy, the 2001 tax cut reduced taxes for every income-tax payer in the country. He reduced the bottom tax rate to 10% from 15% and increased the refundable child tax credit to $1,000 from $500 per child, both cuts that President Barack Obama says we should keep. In so doing, millions of lower income taxpayers were removed from the tax rolls, shifting the remaining burden to those at the top, even after their taxes were cut.
According to the CBO, those who made less than $44,300 in 2001 -- 60% of the country -- paid a paltry 3.3% of all income taxes. By 2005, almost all of them were excused from paying any income tax. They paid less than 1% of the income tax burden. Their share shrank even when taking into account the payroll tax. In 2001, the bottom 60% paid 16.3% of all taxes; by 2005 their share was down to 14.3%. All the while, this large group of voters made 25.8% of the nation's income.
When you make almost 26% of the income and you pay only 0.6% of the income tax, that's a good deal, courtesy of those who do pay income taxes. For the bottom 40%, the redistribution deal is even better. In 2001, these 43 million Americans, who earn less than $30,500, made 13.5% of the nation's income but paid no income tax. Instead, they received checks from their taxpaying neighbors worth $16.3 billion. By 2005, those checks totaled $33.3 billion.