Should Only the Richest Pay More?
68 Pages Posted: 27 Sep 2022 Last revised: 12 Jun 2023
Date Written: September 19, 2022
This paper challenges the leading academic, political, and cultural narrative supporting greater redistribution. The narrative holds that redistribution should come at the expense of a very restricted group of the highest earners: the one percent, the super-rich, the billionaire class. I argue that many reasons offered in support of this view call for redistribution from a much broader group that includes the affluent—those with incomes in the ninetieth to ninety-ninth percentiles of the distribution. Whether one looks at the recent trends in income concentration, wealth concentration, social mobility, political representation, or the rise of populism, the affluent are as great—and sometimes greater—contributors to these problems as those in the top one percent. Remarkably, contemporary legal scholarship has ignored the affluent almost completely, greatly limiting the magnitude of possible economic transfers as well the forms that these transfers may take. This paper reveals the analytical weakness of the prevailing narrow view. Higher taxes on the affluent should fully enter distributional debates.
Keywords: progressive taxes, redistribution, top one percent, affluent
JEL Classification: K34
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation