Thursday, May 19, 2022
Alex Raskolnikov (Columbia) presents Should Only the Richest Pay More? today as part of the OMG Transatlantic Tax Talks Series (OMG = Oxford-Michigan-MIT-Munich-Georgetown):
This paper challenges the leading academic, political, and cultural narrative supporting greater redistribution. This narrative holds that redistribution should come at the expense of the very restricted group of the highest earners: the one percent, the super-rich, the billionaire class. I argue that the very reasons offered in support of this view call for redistribution from a much broader group that includes the affluent—those with incomes in the ninetieth to ninety ninth percentiles of the distribution. Whether one looks at the recent trends in income concentration, wealth concentration, economic mobility, government capture, political polarization, or the rise of populism, the affluent are as great or greater contributors to these problems as those in the top one percent. Remarkably, the contemporary U.S. legal and economic scholarship has ignored the affluent almost completely, greatly limiting the magnitude of possible economic transfers as well the form that these transfers may take.
This paper reveals the analytical weakness of the prevailing narrow view. If the richest should pay more taxes, the affluent should as well.