Do Americans mind paying taxes?

Tax Justice in the USA : When the boss pays less tax than the secretary

Higher taxes for the rich - this is the demand made by applicants Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders in the running for the presidential candidacy of the US Democrats. Two French, the economists Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, played a key role in the wealth tax concepts of the exponents of the left wing of the party.

Billionaires pay proportionally less taxes

In their book "The Triumph of Injustice", Zucman and Saez point to the blatantly unequal tax burden in the US: US billionaires have an average effective tax rate of 23 percent, which is lower than the rest of the taxpayers (28 percent). In contrast, the US tax system was still one of the most advanced decades ago - income tax rose with higher income, emphasize the French.

Your book suggests solutions that the left wing of the US Democrats fall back on in the candidate race. The French economists had a particularly strong influence on Sanders' plan, as 33-year-old Zucman says, who, like Saez, teaches at the University of California at Berkeley

"Make me a plan," Sanders asked her, says Zucman. The Senator's stipulation was to "go further" than Warren, who had previously presented her concept for a tax on the wealthy. Senator Warren, on the other hand, "knew what she wanted". Their plan was essentially developed by their own team, but according to Zucman, the French contributed their expertise.

Trump's tax rate lower than his secretary's

Zucman and Saez are among a number of French economists whose influence is growing in the United States. This ranks also includes Esther Duflo from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, who shared the Nobel Prize for Economics with other winners this year, and France's star economist Thomas Piketty, author of the successful book "Capital in the 21st Century".

The French economists see themselves as "plumbers", as Duflo described it. "Economists can explain how to control the plumbing so that the income tax works properly." At the moment, personalities like US President Donald Trump, Amazon boss Jeff Bezos, Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg and major investor Warren Buffett would effectively have lower tax rates than their secretaries.


The tax burden on the rich in the United States has fallen since the presidency of Ronald Reagan (1981-89), while the income gap between the rich and the rest of the population has widened over the past few decades.

The USA was once exemplary when it came to tax justice

For those who research inequality, the USA is "the right place," says Saez, who has his office in Berkeley next to Zucman. In no other western country has inequality grown as much as in the USA. In their book, the French economists explain that it used to be very different in the United States.

In 1970, the richest paid more than half of their income to taxes, twice as much as the average earner. "This traditional American tax justice inspires us," says Zucman. (AFP)

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