The Problem Is That You're Reading USA Today

Yesterday, I thought I found a brilliant factoid here.  Then I read this from Kevin Drum:

Not quite. According to the BEA, personal income in 2009 totalled $12 trillion and personal current taxes totalled $1.1 trillion. Sure enough, that's 9.2%. But, ahem, there's also $967 billion in "contributions for government social insurance." That's taxes to you and me. So that's $2.1 trillion in taxes, or about 17% of personal income.

But according to the OMB, federal tax receipts in 2009 totalled $2.1 trillion. And according to the Census Bureau, state and local tax receipts in 2009 totalled $1.2 trillion. That's $3.3 trillion, not $2.1 trillion. Do we really have $1.2 trillion in taxes not being paid by individuals? State and federal corporate taxes only amounted to about $200 billion. Are they not counting the employer portion of payroll taxes?

In any case, our total tax bite, which is eventually paid by individuals no matter what channel it goes through, was $3.3 trillion in 2009. That's 27.5% of personal income, not 9.2%. Caveat emptor.

Umm.  27.5% is much higher than 9.2%.  And frankly, what was I thinking that the number could even be 9.2%?  I mean payroll taxes alone are close to 14% (Split between employer and employee).  9.2% on its face should have looked wrong to me.  My bad.

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