Taxes paid vs benefits received

The Heritage Foundation has an interesting 2015 article on, The Redistributive State: The Allocation of Government Benefits, Services, and Taxes in the United States. In it, I saw this interesting chart comparing taxes paid versus benefits received, based on income. I’ll refer to this next time someone mentions that the wealthy aren’t paying their fair share:

2 thoughts on “Taxes paid vs benefits received”

  1. Well, it looks like a convincing graph for a five years old… The poor people are bad, and dont pitch in, the rich people are the heroes that make a tremendous effort to sustain the budget…

    Why dont you try other view. Get the Benefits received per Quintile and divide it by the number of people. I would be interested on the result. My guess is the view will be quite different, showing how the top Quintile is receiving a higher per person tax benefit than any other group, and, as usual, the middle Quintiles will be mostly sc#wed receiving almost nothing per person. Well, most of the government spending is in social security and unemployment, if you are in the middle Quintiles most likely you are not receiving neither.

    https://www.nationalpriorities.org/budget-basics/federal-budget-101/spending/

    Discussing about what is “fair” its a never ending story. We could discuss what looks to be better to the economy, and the top earners hoarding all the capital does not look all that promising ( neither distributing all the money to everyone in a “cafe para todos” system).

    Wages growth have been negative or flat for the last years, while companies are posting higher and higher profits. Inequality is growing and it is something that should worry mainly the companies. If the workers dont have spending power, who is going to buy their next product?

    So, are the wealthy paying their fair share? No clue. Define fair.

    Is it fair that people need two jobs at minimum wage to put food on the table and pay insurance premiums?

    Is it fair that companies making billions in profit have negative tax rates? http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/02/25/corporation-tax-rate_n_4855763.html

    Is in the best interest of the big companies and the wealthy to continue starve the middle class???… no if the look for the long run, yes if they are only concerned with the short term.

    1. The chart is not judgmental; it’s objective. If you think a “chart” is claiming that poor people are “bad”, and rich people are “heroes”, perhaps there’s some cognitive biases at work.

      And the chart is normalized to the unit of household. Which is obvious, as it wouldn’t make any sense if reported in the aggregate.

      Where I agree with you is on the following: Who knows what is “fair”? There is no such thing. And regarding all the other points you make — e.g. that the “wealthy are starving the middle” class — it’s my opinion that the dynamics of society are far too complex to make any kind of statement like that (or refute it) with certainty.

      From my limited study of these things, I can only say that the work of Milton Friedman has made more sense to me than anything else, to me — both in terms of the theory and history behind his work, and my own experience having lived in both the United States and throughout Europe, and have had careers both as an employee in a government agency, and owner of a private business that hires employees.

Agree? Disagree? What do you think?