Total tax burden by income level
May 24, 2011 8:29 PM   Subscribe

What is the total tax burden for various income levels in the US?

There is plenty of readily available data for the federal income tax, but I'm interested in what the tax distribution looks like after you factor in all other forms of taxation, such as payroll tax, state income tax, property taxes, sales tax, etc., which are generally less progressive than the federal income tax.

But my google-fu has turned up nada. What I'd like to see is pretty simple: A graph with income on the x-axis, and average income paid in taxes as a percentage on the y-axis. If there was any additional analysis, that would be nice, but really I just want to see how much the hypothetical "average American" actually pays in taxes as a function of income level.

I realize that it's probably somewhat tricky to try to determine, for example, the average amount that people earning a certain amount paid in sales tax for a given year, but surely someone has at least put together some good guesses?
posted by jcreigh to Law & Government (3 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
This varies so much by state and municipality that a single graph won't communicate it.
posted by tomswift at 8:32 PM on May 24, 2011 [2 favorites]

What you're asking is so regionally variable, it's like the taxation research equivalent of the Manhattan Project in scope. Even if someone threw billions of dollars around to find out, the results still wouldn't reflect reality, because higher-income Americans have greater access to financial services created to lessen their effective tax burden.
posted by StrikeTheViol at 9:07 PM on May 24, 2011

The Washington, DC Office of the Chief Financial Officer does a report every year that attempts to do what you seek. It breaks down the tax burden for familes making 25k, 50k, 75k, 100k and 150k for a bunch of major metro areas and calculates the burden as a percentage. It has to make a lot of asuumptions about home value and so on, but its a pretty good estimate. It includes state/local income tax, sales tax, property tax and vehicle taxes. You can add their numbers to the federal income tax basis to get the total tax rate. It demonstrates how regressive taxes like sales tax are. Full report PDF
posted by Lame_username at 11:25 PM on May 24, 2011

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