Here is a surprise:
So far there appears no evidence whatsoever of the “tax cut for the rich” charge. Changing regulations have reduced the burden of each income quintile except that at the very top. From the standpoint of all federal taxes, 2001 represents increased income progressivity as compared with the previous decades.
That’s Econopundit and here is the full post and data, thanks also to Bruce Bartlett for publicizing these results. The original source, I might add, is the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Note that the figures include the effects of excise, payroll, and corporate taxation, not just income taxes.
My take: We have to be careful how we interpret the figures. If “the rich are getting richer,” the top quintile can be paying more, in relative terms, even if the top marginal rates are falling. That being said, the top quintiles still appear to be carrying their share of the burden. Thanks to Brock Sides for a useful email.