In 1980, the top tax rate was 70%, and the top 1% of income earners paid 19% of all federal income taxes. In 2007, the top tax rate was 35%, and the top 1% paid 40% of all taxes — even though it earned 22% of all income. Similarly, the top 10% paid 49% of all taxes in 1970, and 71% of all taxes in 2007. Readers and voters can judge for themselves if that is fair.
Moore suggests that a principle of fairness is that all workers should pay some income tax, even as little as $100, because 48% of tax filers pay no income tax. In my view, it would be inefficient, because the Internal Revenue Service might spend substantial resources collecting small amounts from large numbers of people. Moore doesn’t address this efficiency issue.
Further, the 48% who don’t pay are not the same people every year. Some retirees may pay one year, perhaps because they have a capital gain, but not the next year. Some students might pay next year, after they graduate, but will not pay tax this year on low earnings from part-time jobs.