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130 Groups Urge Congress to End Bush Tax Breaks for Richest 2%
Coalition Says It’s Time for Wealthiest Americans to “Pay Their Fair Share”
(Washington, D.C. – July 24, 2012) Americans for Tax Fairness today sent a letter from 130 national advocacy, aging, children’s, faith, labor, small business, and tax policy groups urging Congress to end the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent of Americans (households with incomes over $250,000 a year).
“Ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest two percent of Americans…is simply asking them to pay their fair share,” the letter says. “Americans admire financial success, but over the last decade wealthy Americans were enriched even further by substantial tax breaks while millions of other Americans saw their wages drop in real terms.”
In fact, wealthy people earning more than $1 million a year get an average tax break of $143,000 from the Bush tax cuts, but middle-class people making about $50,000 a year get an average tax break of only $1,000, according to the Urban-Brookings Tax Policy Center (Table T11-0209). Ending the Bush tax cuts for the richest 2 percent would save nearly $1 trillion over the next decade, according to Congress’ Joint Committee on Taxation.
“If we continue unaffordable tax breaks for the richest two percent, we won’t be able to address critical national priorities demanding attention – such as supporting education, strengthening Medicare, creating jobs, improving our infrastructure, and helping the millions of families struggling to get by,” the letter adds. “And tax cuts heavily tilted towards the wealthy have proven to be a failed economic strategy because they create many fewer jobs compared with alternatives. Simply put, we cannot afford to continue to give large tax cuts to those who need them the least.”
The groups emphasized that they also opposed any proposals to temporarily extend all of the Bush-era tax cuts or extend them up to the $1 million income level. The latter option would cost $366 billion in lost revenue over a decade compared to extending the Bush tax cuts to the $250,000 income level, according to the Joint Committee on Taxation.
“Almost half of the benefits of the higher [$1 million] threshold would go to millionaires. The middle class would be left to pick up the tab,” the letter concludes. “With the threshold set at $250,000, 98 percent of Americans would receive their full tax cuts next year, and all Americans would receive a tax cut on their first $250,000 in income.”
If Congress ends the Bush tax cuts above the $250,000 income level, households making between $250,000 and $300,000 a year still would retain an average of 98 percent of their current Bush tax cuts, but the income tax breaks for households making $1 million to $2 million would be reduced by 87 percent, according to Citizens for Tax Justice. According to a Treasury Department report, fewer than 3% of small business owners make over $250,000 a year, so allowing the Bush tax cuts to expire for upper-income households would not affect these job creators.
Americans for Tax Fairness (ATF) is a diverse campaign of 140 national, state and local organizations united in support of a tax system that works for all Americans. It has come together based on the belief that the country needs comprehensive, progressive tax reform that results in greater revenue to meet our growing needs. This starts by ending the Bush-era tax cuts for the richest 2 percent and by making critical investments that create and sustain jobs while taking a balanced approach to addressing America’s fiscal challenges.