Giving credit where it’s due, this ad from President Obama discusses tax rates, rather than claiming that “the guy who made $50,000″ paid more in taxes than Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney.
Now for a reality check: As Michael Tanner of the Cato Institute explained recently:
[U]nless your household was earning more than $189,400 per year, it is unlikely that you are paying a higher federal income-tax rate than Romney. According to the Congressional Budget Office, the average middle-income American pays an effective federal income-tax rate of 1.3 percent. Recall that half of Americans pay no federal income tax at all. And, second, about two-thirds of Romney’s income had already been taxed at the corporate level. While a precise estimate is impossible because of variations in corporate-tax payments, if one assumes an average effective corporate rate of roughly 25 percent, Romney’s real federal income-tax rate was closer to 30 percent.
And what about Scott Pelley’s $50,000 earner? The chance that he’s paying an effective tax rate higher than Romney’s is almost zero, if you can believe the rabid right-wingers at CNN/Money.
The effective tax rate is always going to be lower than one’s top income tax rate. And the top rate for roughly four-fifths of Americans is 15% or less, said Roberton Williams, a senior fellow at the Tax Policy Center.
In other words, 80% of Americans have an effective rate below 15%.
If you consider income tax liability alone, the average effective federal tax rate for people with incomes between $40,000 and $50,000, for instance, is just 3.2%, according to Tax Policy Center estimates.