“People. People who pay taxes, Are the luckiest people in the world …” That may not be exactly how the lyrics, most memorably sung by Barbra Streisand in the musical “Funny Girl” actually go, but one could argue that one is lucky to be well off enough to pay federal income taxes.
A research note from Stone & McCarthy Research Associates economist Nancy Vanden Houten wonders why “obsessing about taxpayers with no federal income tax liability” has become a focus of the U.S. presidential campaign.
We think the emphasis is misplaced. A more appropriate question to ask is how much all taxpayers benefit from provisions of the tax code.
And the answer to that, she observes, is that America’s rich are net winners from the current tax structure.
Upper income taxpayers benefit more from tax expenditures, in absolute dollar terms and as a percentage of income.