May 2003 - VOLUME 24 - NUMBER 5
An Interview with Robert McIntyre
Robert McIntyre is director of Citizens for Tax Justice, the leading research and advocacy group working for tax fairness at the federal, state and local levels. McIntyre has written hundreds of articles on tax policy issues, in publications like the Washington Post, the New York Times and academic journals.
|In the sixties, corporations paid about 22 percent of all federal taxes. In the seventies, that fell to 15 percent. It plummeted in Ronald Reagan's first term, down to as low as 6 percent. It then made a comeback to some degree, after Reagan reversed his policies, but now it is back way down again.||
Multinational Monitor: How much does the average person in the
United States pay in local, state and federal taxes?
MM: How progressive are the tax structures?
On the state and local level, it is flipped: Poor people pay the most, about 13 percent, the middle people pay around 12 percent, and the richest people pay around 9 percent.
MM: Overall, what kind of impact do taxes have on income and wealth
Of course the tax system funds a lot of government programs, some of which help the lower incomes, some particularly help the higher incomes, like defense and all the things the government does that help business.
MM: What proportion of the federal tax take comes from corporations?
MM: What is that down from?
MM: What were the levels in the years before Clinton?
MM: How were the benefits of the first Bush tax cut allocated?
MM: What would be the impact of the current plan?
Of the $726 billion total, just under half would go to the top 5 percent, 60 percent to the top tenth and about three quarters to the top fifth.
MM: Do the bottom income groups get anything?
MM: What is the current status of the estate tax?
MM: And how are those benefits distributed?
MM: Why has there not been warmer support from the corporate sector
for the Bush administrations dividend tax proposal?
Initially, they were cool to it. In part, that was because they thought if they are going to give them a subsidy, theyd just as soon it went to the companies, rather than the shareholders. In part, it was because some of them had some fears that the shareholders would be mad at them if a companys dividends turned out to be taxable because the company was avoiding paying sufficient corporate income tax to qualify for tax-exempt dividends. Overall, most of them seemed to think it would not do much for their companies and thus, from their point of view, was a waste of money.
MM: In broad outlines, if you could scrap the entire existing tax
system, both the federal code and the state and local taxes, and put something
else in place, what would be the guiding principles of the replacement
The one tax that does that pretty well is the income tax. You need both a personal and corporate income tax, by the way, or the income tax falls apart. So Id like to see a system that taxes people on what they really make, not on some figment of their accountants imagination, and does so at progressive rates.
MM: How high should the top rate be?
But you could pick up something extra in terms of progressivity by having a wealth tax or an estate tax, too.
MM: And what would be the tax burden on lower income groups?
I would probably keep the social security payroll tax pretty much as
it is, so even low-income people would pay some federal taxes, but not
MM: What is the proper role for property tax?
|What we would like to see is a progressive system that taxes people based on their ability to pay. The one tax that does that pretty well is the income tax.|