Ten Charts that Prove the United States Is a Low-Tax Country
Our Citizens and Corporations Pay Much Less Than They Once Did and Much Less Than in Most Other Countries
SOURCE: AP/Paul White
Download the charts (pdf)
The United States is a low-tax country. That’s true for individuals and for corporations, and it’s true whether you compare us to other countries or the America of the past. No matter how you slice it the conclusion is the same.
Conservatives like to claim that our budget deficits are purely a “spending problem.” Said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY): “We don’t have this problem because we tax too little. We have it because we spent too much.”
It’s a popular talking point, but it simply isn’t true. Deficits do not stem from spending levels alone. They are the product of a mismatch between spending and revenue. And when revenue is as low as ours is, you end up with big deficits.
Here are 10 charts demonstrating the simple, clear truth that federal taxes in the United States are very low.
Recently, President Obama met with a group of House Republicans to discuss the federal budget and the national debt. During the course of that meeting, the president noted, correctly, that taxes today are even lower than they were under President Ronald Reagan. This fact was met with “a lot of ‘eye-rolling’” from the Republicans. They didn’t believe him.
This anecdote suggests that perhaps the reason conservatives think we don’t have a revenue problem is because they don’t know the facts. Taxes today are lower than they were under President Reagan. They’re lower today than they’ve been in 60 years. And they’re lower than they are in most developed countries.
We do have a debt problem coming down the road. That debt problem is the result of an aging population, rising health care costs, and, yes, revenue levels that are too low.
Download the charts (pdf)
Michael Linden is the Director for Tax and Budget Policy at American Progress, Seth Hanlon is Director of Fiscal Reform for CAP’s Doing What Works project, and Jordan Eizenga is a Policy Analyst with the Economic Policy team at American Progress.
To speak with our experts on this topic, please contact:
Print: Liz Bartolomeo (poverty, health care)
202.481.8151 or email@example.com
Print: Tom Caiazza (foreign policy, energy and environment, LGBT issues, gun-violence prevention)
202.481.7141 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Allison Preiss (economy, education)
202.478.6331 or email@example.com
Print: Tanya Arditi (immigration, Progress 2050, race issues, demographics, criminal justice, Legal Progress)
202.741.6258 or firstname.lastname@example.org
Print: Chelsea Kiene (women's issues, TalkPoverty.org, faith)
202.478.5328 or email@example.com
Spanish-language and ethnic media: Rafael Medina
202.478.5313 or firstname.lastname@example.org
TV: Rachel Rosen
202.483.2675 or email@example.com
Radio: Sally Tucker
202.481.8103 or firstname.lastname@example.org