...the combination of all income taxes, sales taxes and property taxes took a smaller share of their income than it took from households with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980.
Households earning more than $200,000 benefited from the largest percentage declines in total taxation as a share of income. Middle-income households benefited, too. More than 85 percent of households with earnings above $25,000 paid less in total taxes than comparable households in 1980.
Lower-income households, however, saved little or nothing. Many pay no federal income taxes, but they do pay a range of other levies, like federal payroll taxes, state sales taxes and local property taxes. Only about half of taxpaying households with incomes below $25,000 paid less in 2010.
So this study didn't include telephone and internet taxes, gas taxes
and multiples of other taxes?
The uneven decline is a result of two trends.
Congress cut federal taxation at every income level over the last 30 years.
State and local taxes, meanwhile, increased for most Americans. Those taxes generally take a larger share of income from those who make less, so the increases offset more and more of the federal savings at lower levels of income.
...The federal government depends increasingly on borrowed money to pay its bills, and many state and local governments are similarly confronting the reality that they are spending more money than they collect.
...Public debate over taxes has typically focused on the federal income tax, but that now accounts for less than a third of the total tax revenues collected by federal, state and local governments. To analyze the total burden, The Times created a model, in consultation with experts, which estimated total tax bills for each taxpayer in each year from 1980, when the election of President Ronald Reagan opened an era of tax cutting, up to 2010, the most recent year for which relevant data is available.
The analysis shows that the overall burden of taxation declined as a share of income in the 1980s, rose to a new peak in the 1990s and fell again in the 2000s. Tax rates at most income levels were lower in 2010 than at any point during the 1980s.
Governments still collected the same share of total income in 2010 as in 1980 — 31 cents from every dollar — because people with higher incomes pay taxes at higher rates, and household incomes rose over the last three decades, particularly at the top.
...The trend can be seen by comparing three examples:
¶A household making $350,000 in 2010, roughly the cutoff for the top 1 percent, on average paid 42.1 percent of its income in taxes, compared with 49 percent for a household with the same inflation-adjusted income in 1980 — a savings of about $24,100.
¶A household making $52,000 in 2010, roughly the median income, on average paid 27.7 percent of its income in taxes, compared with 30.5 percent in 1980, saving $1,500.
¶A household making $22,000 in 2010 — roughly the federal poverty line for a family of four — on average paid 19.4 percent in taxes, compared with 20.2 percent, saving $200.
...The federal income tax, which will turn 100 next year, is in decline.
Congressional Republicans and Democrats have repeatedly voted to reduce the share of income that people must pay. Over the last decade, annual revenues from federal taxation of individual and corporate income averaged just 9.2 percent of the nation’s gross domestic product, the lowest level for any 10-year period since World War II.
The recession and new rounds of tax cuts further reduced revenues, to 7.6 percent of economic output in the 2009 and 2010 fiscal years.
Federal spending, meanwhile, grew faster than the economy over the last decade — particularly during the recession. To pay those bills, the government borrowed more money than it collected in income taxes in each of the last three fiscal years, something it had not done in even a single year since World War II, federal data show.
Congress could have eliminated those deficits by cutting spending.
It might also have averted those deficits by leaving the tax code unchanged.
The government on average would have collected an additional $800 billion in each year from 2006 to 2010 if the 1980 code had remained in effect and economic activity had continued at the same pace, the Times analysis found.
The annual federal deficits during those years averaged $714 billion.
Leaving the tax code as it was in 1980, however, would not have solved the nation’s long-term fiscal problems. Increases in federal spending, driven primarily by the rising cost of health care, are projected to outstrip even the revenue-raising capacity of the 1980 tax code in the coming decades, necessitating some combination of spending cuts and tax increases.
...The combined burden of all other federal, state and local taxes takes roughly the same share from all taxpayers. And many Americans — even in a middle-class, Democratic stronghold like Belleville — have misgivings about imposing higher tax rates on the affluent, an important reason that income taxation has declined.
...low-wage workers...still pay federal payroll taxes, which provide financing for Social Security and Medicare. They still pay sales taxes. Even if they are renters, they still bear the cost of property taxes in the form of higher rents.
And those taxes have climbed most quickly in recent decades.
The average American in 2010 paid 30 percent more of income in payroll taxes than in 1980, even while paying 27 percent less in federal income taxes. As a result, revenue from the payroll tax almost equaled income tax revenue before a temporary payroll tax cut took effect in 2011.
The rise of the payroll tax reflects the general movement away from requiring upper-income households to pay a larger share of income in taxes. All workers pay the same Social Security tax on wages below a threshold, which stood at $106,800 in 2010. The Medicare tax imposes a single rate on all wages, without a threshold.
...Illinois, like most states, takes a larger share of income from those who make less. Illinois households earning less than $25,000 a year on average paid 14.3 percent of income in state and local taxes in 2010, while those earning more than $200,000 paid 9.4 percent..."
BINYAMIN APPELBAUM and ROBERT GEBELOFF