Thanks to many loopholes in our tax code–the carried interest loophole being the most important–the richest people in American are likely paying a lower tax rate than you are. From Businessweek:
For the 400 U.S. taxpayers with the highest adjusted gross income, the effective federal income tax rate—what they actually pay—fell from almost 30 percent in 1995 to just under 17 percent in 2007, according to the IRS. And for the approximately 1.4 million people who make up the top 1 percent of taxpayers, the effective federal income tax rate dropped from 29 percent to 23 percent in 2008. It may seem too fantastic to be true, but the top 400 end up paying a lower rate than the next 1,399,600 or so.
That’s not just good luck. It’s often the result of hard work, as suggested by some of the strategies in the following pages. Much of the top 400′s income is from dividends and capital gains, generated by everything from appreciated real estate—yes, there is some left—to stocks and the sale of family businesses. As Warren Buffett likes to point out, since most of his income is from dividends, his tax rate is less than that of the people who clean his office.
Something important to keep in mind with the Republican Party officially taking the position that the problem with America is that the ultra rich are paying too much in taxes.
There is probably no better proof of how the revolving door and the need to raise large amounts of campaign dollars from the wealthy has completely corrupted our politics than the continued existence of the carried interest loophole. How else can you explain that our government pursues policies so unbelievably favorable to a small number of wealthy people in direct opposition to the will of the electorate.