Why “tax the rich” rarely lives up to expectations
Bruce Bartlett takes a look at Britain’s experience and a study that documents it and concludes the same is probably true for here:
The study concluded that the behavioral effect of raising the top rate was much more powerful than anticipated. Two factors in particular had a large effect on revenues.
There was a timing effect. People moved income that they anticipated receiving forward so it would be taxed before the new higher rate took effect. They also postponed the receipt of income into the future in anticipation of a change in the tax rate after the election of a new government.
Also, because the British top rate had increased above that in all other major countries except Japan, many Britons relocated in reaction. For example, 1,379 people in high-income occupations moved to Switzerland in 2010, a 29 percent increase over the previous year.
The point, of course, is those who fall in the bracket in which the tax is increased are going to do what is necessary to minimize the impact of that tax.
Human nature 101. Consequently, the revenue projections are almost always high – and wrong.
Additionally, the Democrats like to imply that taxing the rich is a panacea for the spending problems we have. In the name of “fairness” they imply that if the rich would only pay their “fair share” well everything would be hunky dory. Of course we know the real problem is spending not revenue. But regardless, the real effect of the “Buffet Rule” for instance, is negligible:
But a March 20 analysis from Congress’s Joint Committee on Taxation estimates that implementation of the so-called Buffett rule, which would require those making $1 million or more a year to pay an effective federal income tax rate of at least 30 percent, would raise only $46.7 billion over the next 10 years. That’s a drop in the bucket compared with the $41.2 trillion in federal revenues expected to be collected under current law.
Note that last number and remember, this is a government which is claiming that it can’t get by on $41.2 TRILLION over 10 years.
Where again is the problem?