New York Post op-ed: Yes, U.S. Tax Cuts Will Mainly Benefit Those Who ... Pay the Most Taxes, by Brian M. Riedl (Manhattan Institute):
A popular Facebook and Twitter game asks friends to post an unpopular opinion. Here is an unpopular fact: Tax reformers cannot deeply cut income taxes for lower-income families, because they already pay no collective income tax.
Tax reform is intended to bring simplification and economic growth. Yet many commentators seem interested in only redistribution.
This explains the teeth-gnashing over the Tax Policy Center estimate that the Republican tax blueprint would save the median family $420, but a family in the top income quintile $10,610.
While that sounds unfair, consider this: The top-earning 20 percent of households currently pay 88 percent of all federal income taxes. So even a proportional income-tax cut will save them the most money.
... In fact, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development in 2008 showed that the United States had the most progressive tax code of all 24 countries measured. And that doesn’t even count America’s 2013 upper-income tax hikes, or Europe’s steep value-added taxes, which each widen America’s progressivity lead over Europe.
... Adding all federal taxes together, the top-earning 20 percent fund 69 percent of all federal revenues.
... The point is not that progressivity is harmful or should be reversed. Rather, it mathematically limits the low-income taxes left to cut. It’s easy for politicians, populists and panderers to pretend that the middle class pays all the taxes, and thus deserves the largest tax savings. But the first assertion is demonstrably false, which makes the second mathematically impossible. Champions of progressive income taxation have won. The bottom 60 percent have seen their collective income tax reduced to zero. In tax reform, there are no more winnings left for them to claim.
National Review, Kevin Hassett’s Defense of Tax Reform is Right on Point