The End of Welfare as We Don't Know It

Doug Henwood dhenwood at
Tue Oct 13 09:21:21 PDT 1998

Max Sawicky wrote:

>There is very little change in burdens in the U.S. over the
>past twenty-five years. The share and burden of the rich
>has bounced around more than other groups, but not outside
>a very narrow range.
>See "State of Working America" for details.

Which I just did. You're right, Max, that the federal tax burden has changed very little for the bottom 80% of the distribution. According to table 2.10 in the forthcoming State of Working America, the poorest fifth of taxpayers (averge 1998 income: $8,652) saw a tax rise of $104 between 1977 and 1985 (based on 1998 incomes) and several tax cuts totaling $485 between 1985 and 1998, a net decline of $381. Which isn't all that much in dollar terms, but translates into maybe the better part of a month's rent for people who don't have too many pennies to spare, and also represents a 48% cut in total federal tax liabilities. From the second to fourth quintiles, the changes in percentage terms are tiny indeed, and even in absolute dollar terms. But, oh, the high end. Between 1977 and 1985, the richest 1% (1998 average pretax income: $644,043) enjoyed a $97,250 tax cut (i.e., almost three times the average household's pretax income!) - partly offset by a $60,540 increase between 1985 and 1998, for a net cut of $36,710, or 14% of tax liabilities. That's not pocket change.

>There is also
>a new report from the Congressional Budget Office, free
>on the web. Author is Frank Sammartino.

It's at <> (Acrobat version) or <> (html version).


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