October 9, 2019/Press

Tillis-Backed 2017 Tax Law Was the “Tipping Point” Helping Billionaires Pay a Lower Tax Rate Than the Working Class For the First Time in History

Raleigh – Thanks in part to the 2017 tax law backed by Senator Tillis, which was “a windfall” for millionaires like himself, “America’s richest billionaires paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class” for the first time in U.S. history, according to the Washington Post and a new study. The report points to the Tillis-backed plan as the “tipping point” because it “lowered the top income tax bracket and slashed the corporate tax rate” while also noting that Tillis’ empty promises to justify the bill “have largely failed to materialize.”

Tillis has a long history looking out for millionaires like himself rather than middle class North Carolinians. Earlier this year, he pushed to “unilaterally cut taxes for the rich.” As Speaker of the NC House, he passed a tax bill that overwhelmingly benefited the wealthiest North Carolinians and corporations but was “especially burdensome” to working families. In Raleigh, Tillis cut income taxes “much more” for wealthier North Carolinians and preserved tax breaks for purchasing yachts and jets while eliminating “several exemptions and deductions that benefited working class taxpayers.” Editorial boards exposed his agenda for shifting the tax burden which meant “the wealthy and big corporations are paying less and middle- and low-income earners are paying more.”

“Senator Tillis is an out-of-touch millionaire whose agenda looking out for his wealthy special interest backers has now resulted in billionaires paying a lower tax rate than working families,” NCDP spokesman Robert Howard said. “From his time in the Raleigh and D.C. swamps, Senator Tillis has pushed an agenda that’s a windfall for millionaires like himself at the expense of middle class families, which is one reason North Carolinians will send a new representative to Washington who will finally put North Carolina families before even more corporate and special interest tax cuts.”

Washington Post: For the first time in history, U.S. billionaires paid a lower tax rate than the working class last year
By Christopher Ingraham
October 8, 2019

Key Points:

  • A new book-length study on the tax burden of the ultrarich begins with a startling finding: In 2018, for the first time in history, America’s richest billionaires paid a lower effective tax rate than the working class.
  • “The Triumph of Injustice,” by economists Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman of the University of California at Berkeley, presents a first-of-its kind analysis of Americans’ effective tax rates since the 1960s. It finds that in 2018 the average effective tax rate paid by the richest 400 families in the country was 23 percent, a full percentage point lower than the 24.2 percent rate paid by the bottom half of American households.
  • In 1980, by contrast, the 400 richest had an effective tax rate of 47 percent. In 1960, their tax rate was as high as 56 percent. The effective tax rate paid by the bottom 50 percent, by contrast, has changed little over time.
  • The relatively small tax burden of the super-rich is the product of decades of choices made by American lawmakers, some deliberate, others the result of indecisiveness or inertia, Saez and Zucman say. Congress has repeatedly slashed top income tax rates, for instance, and cut taxes on capital gains and estates. Lawmakers have also failed to provide adequate funding for IRS enforcement efforts and allowed multinational companies to shelter their profits in low-tax countries.
  • But the tipping point came in 2017, with the passage of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act. That bill, championed by President Trump and then-House Speaker Paul D. Ryan, was a windfall for the wealthy: It lowered the top income tax bracket and slashed the corporate tax rate.
  • By 2018, according to Saez and Zucman, the rich were already enjoying the fruits of that legislation: The average effective tax rate paid by the top 0.1 percent of households dropped by 2.5 percentage points. The benefits the bill’s supporters promised — higher rates of growth and business investment and a shrinking deficit — have largely failed to materialize.
  • “The rich definitely pay less in taxes than they did in the past and less than they should,” Furman said.