The New York Times – “Almost a decade ago, Warren Buffett made a claim that would become famous. He said that he paid a lower tax rate than his secretary, thanks to the many loopholes and deductions that benefit the wealthy. His claim sparked a debate about the fairness of the tax system. In the end, the expert consensus was that, whatever Buffett’s specific situation, most wealthy Americans did not actually pay a lower tax rate than the middle class. “Is it the norm?” the fact-checking outfit Politifact asked. “No.” Time for an update: It’s the norm now. For the first time on record, the 400 wealthiest Americans last year paid a lower total tax rate — spanning federal, state and local taxes — than any other income group, according to newly released data….President Trump’s 2017 tax cut, which was largely a handout to the rich, plays a role, too. It helped push the tax rate on the 400 wealthiest households below the rates for almost everyone else.
…The data here come from the most important book on government policy that I’ve read in a long time — called “The Triumph of Injustice,” to be released next week. The authors are Emmanuel Saez and Gabriel Zucman, both professors at the University of California, Berkeley, who have done pathbreaking work on taxes. Saez has won the award that goes to the top academic economist under age 40, and Zucman was recently profiled on the cover of Bloomberg BusinessWeek magazine as “the wealth detective.” They have constructed a historical database that tracks the tax payments of households at different points along the income spectrum going back to 1913, when the federal income tax began. The story they tell is maddening — and yet ultimately energizing…”