Taxation thought experiment

We were discussing previously whether high taxation represents a loss of liberty or is at least oppressive.

Since we live in a representative republic, if 99% of the population decided to have the top 1% pay 90% of their income as taxes, would you support that? If not, why not?

I’d say that that would never happen, if it did happen it would be a staggeringly bad idea since the wealthiest 1% would simply leave the country, but nonetheless, I would “support” it in the sense that accepting outcomes and policies you don’t like when they are supported by the majority is the basis of a functioning democracy. What alternative do I have? If 99% of people want something, then I have to live with legislation that enshrines what they want in law, unless I’m willing to take up arms and try to institute a dictatorship to prevent it… a dictatorship which opposes the desires of 99% of people, mind you, so it would have to be a bloody and brutal one.

So: “supporting” it in the sense of “accepting the legitimacy of a democratic outcome I dislike”, while a bad option, is better than the alternative, and so yes, I would.

It’s too badly described to evaluate in isolation. Are you talking 90% effective, 90% marginal, or what? What’s capital treated like? What’s the distribution look like for everyone else?

For amusement, however, note that the top marginal rate pretty much was as you describe in the 1940s and 1950s. People obviously didn’t pay that rate; I haven’t seen an estimate of what the real incidence was in terms of less work, avoidance, and paying. Economic performance was enormous, and no one fled the country.

I think it’s probably impractical to have such a high tax rate but not particularly immoral as you seemed to be indicating in the other thread.

The question implicates what percentage of annual, personal income that 1% represents.

If the top 1% earn 90% of the income in the country, hell yeah I would support it. It tells you that system favors these people in other ways. Keeping 9% of the total national income in the top 1%, annually, is still a lot.

Now, if the numbers were more like our current actuality (top 10% earn 50% of total income- then the 1%/90% proposal seems extreme.

I declare Brad’s experiment with thinking a failure.

I think 90% would be excessive. However I wouldn’t mind seeing tax rates like we had in the 1950s through 1970s.

Or just eliminate many of the loopholes that exist today.

When even rich folks like Warren Buffet think it is ridiculous how little they pay then you know you’ve got an issue.

90% effective tax rate is pretty different than a 90% rate. If it were effective, presumably the top bracket would have to be 99% and capital gains would have to be up there too somehow.

I would support a 90% bracket. Maybe 100 million+? 1 mil+ maybe 45%, 10 mil+ at 55.

That’s because you’re Hitler…

Yes. The wealthy should have the strongest interest in a stable, secure society. That said, I am certainly not averse to paying my share, especially if I were in that 1%, since I prefer to share my country with collectively content people who have a certain minimum quality of life. Is this extortion/coercion by the poor? Only if you think you really are an island – otherwise, life is a grand ol’ compromise. Beyond that, it’s all up to your level of testosterone and/or self-righteousness.

So the tyranny of the majority. That seems inconsistent with the spirit of 76, unless that minority happens to be the rich. Then screw em, they’ll just pay their taxes and everyone can have a free lunch!

Either that or they’ll move to Switzerland as the British are currently discovering.

Well, alternatively, the rich can use mythology, might, or their own money to coerce the poor. Welcome to humanity!

Besides, what divine agency grants a man “rights” or “freedoms” independent of the society said man participates in? Is the Constitution holy writ, authored by God’s own Sharpie?

Assuming that your hypothetical republic is in fact the present-day United States, then no, I wouldn’t support a 90% tax for the top 1% of earners because they would just pick up and leave. If such a tax existed, however, I wouldn’t liken it to slavery, as you so tactlessly tried to do in the other thread. I mean, poor hedge fund managers, bankers, and CEOs, who can be taxed at such appalling rates! It’s almost as if they can’t afford multiple vacation homes, private jets, and Congressmen! Meanwhile, the nation’s poor, who benefit from the oodles of money apparently looted from the rich via various government programs that Brad probably hates, struggle to get by.

Take a stroll through the downtrodden parts of a major city some time, then come crying to me about your fucking taxes.

Either that or they’ll move to Switzerland as the British are currently discovering.

They’re not, y’know. People are chuntering about it, believe me (I get my ear bent fairly regularly in my day job), but very few are actually doing it. Despite fond libertarian fantasies, most people/companies/investors don’t make their decisions with tax rates at the forefront of their minds. My job would be an awful lot easier if it were…

As it is a representive democracy, it isn’t 99% of the population I guess, but 99% of the legislators?

As others have said, 90% effective or 90% marginal? I can see times when 90% marginal is required - e.g. WW2 (though in times of war, financing is normally done by forced saving, rather than taxes, and then the value of those savings eroded, e.g. compulsory war bonds paying low interest)

In peace time, no, I wouldn’t support it as it is stupid IMHO. However, there are many things that representative democracies do that I don’t support because IMHO they are stupid. But that’s politics and society for you.

If by nobody doing it you mean 15 billion pounds worth of taxable income departing, then yeah I guess nobody is doing it.

But 15 billion is about 7 billion in corporate taxes. Not a small bit for the Brits.

If by nobody doing it you mean 15 billion pounds worth of taxable income departing, then yeah I guess nobody is doing it.

But 15 billion is about 7 billion in corporate taxes


Also, since when has the UK had a 47% corporation tax rate? You’re subtly sliding from personal income to corporate taxation, which in actual fact, is becoming significantly more generous thanks to the participation exemption soon to be introduced.

Here let me google that for you

Here is the top result

Lawyers estimate hedge funds managing close to $15 billion have moved to Switzerland in the past year, with more possibly to come. David Butler, founder of professional-services firm Kinetic Partners, said his company had advised 23 hedge funds on leaving the U.K. in the 15 months to April. An additional 15 are close to quitting the U.K., he said.

Ok so you’re right, it is the personal tax rate that is causing them to leave. The UK still loses out on substantial personal tax revenues. Getting 40% of something is better than 51% of nothing.

Heh. How sad is it to try the (very old) lmgtfy ice-burn and then not even getting the actual link right.

But, yah for that completely factual an unbiased source. And for your impeccable logic - why didn’t you just say that getting 1% of 15 beeeellions is better than getting 51% of FUCKALL. It would make the same point.

Of course the argument you’d have to counter with actual verifiable numbers is that the revenue loss from people leaving isn’t greater than the gain from higher tax. Not that angry rich people threatening to leave should be basis for tax law - if those people leaving actually contributes something useful to society, like substantial revenue or jobs, then you might have a problem.