Reply To: Taxes and economic growth


It would matter if the shifts from one tax source to another were large enough. But even if this has happened it’s secondary to the main effect of taxation, which is transferring command over resources out of the realm of economic calculation and into the realm without economic calculation.

Table 2.2 at the following link compiles the percentage composition of federal tax receipts by source from 1934 -2012. It shows that since 1947, Individual Income Taxes have made up between 39 and 50 percent of the total; Social Security Taxes (which are also individual income taxes) between 9 and 42 percent; Corporate Income Taxes between 6 and 32 percent; and Excise Taxes between 2.5 and 19 percent.

Disparate tax rates on a given source also have consequences, but they too are secondary to the amount of tax revenue transferred to the state.

The top rate on federal income tax in 1980 was 70 percent, in 1986 it was dropped to 50 percent, in 1991 it was down to 31 percent, then rose again in 2000 to 39.6 percent, and today stands at 35 percent. The following charts document that even though top income tax rates have fallen from the 1970 and 1980s, the percent of all income taxes paid by the highest quintile has increased from 65 percent in 1979 to 86 percent in 2007. That fact is more important than what the top rate happens to be.

Murray Rothbard’s book Power and Market gives a thorough analysis of both primary and secondary effects of different tax regimes.