Senate Democrats yesterday introduced legislation — as they’ve been promising to — that would extend a soon-to-expire payroll tax cut, and pay for it by implementing a surtax on income above $1 million. Republicans, of course, are opposing the plan, reviving their false claims that taxing the very wealthiest Americans will hit small businesses and job creators.
In essence, the GOP is saying that it’s willing to allow higher taxes on middle- and lower-income Americans in order to prevent tax increases on the very wealthy. According to an analysis by Citizens for Tax Justice, provided to the Washington Post’s Greg Sargent, the surtax would affect exceedingly few taxpayers, while a payroll tax cut expiration would wallop more than 100 million households:
The surtax would impact around 345,000 taxpayers, roughly 0.2 percent of taxpayers, or one in 500 of them. Those people would pay on average an additional 2.1 percent of their overall income, or just over 1/50th of that overall income, in taxes.
In a majority of states, only one-tenth of one percent, or one in 1,000 taxpayers, would pay this surtax.
And how many people would benefit from the payroll tax cut? According to the group, around 113 million tax filing units — either single workers or families that include more than one worker — would see their payroll tax cut extended. That’s a lot of people — well over 113 million workers, in fact.
Allowing the payroll tax cut to expire at the end of the year would hit middle-class families with a $1,000 tax increase, providing a substantial drag on the economy. In fact, according to Macroeconomic Advisers, allowing the payroll tax cut to lapse “would reduce GDP growth by 0.5 percent and cost the economy 400,000 jobs.” Other estimates are even worse, with Barclays’s estimating that a payroll tax increase could say 1.5 percent off of GDP growth.
The GOP has, time and again, blocked any legislation that would increase taxes by the slightest amount on the ultra-wealthy, even with tax revenue at a 60 year low, taxes on the rich the lowest they’ve been in a generation, and income inequality out of control. Instead, Republicans would prefer to raise taxes on the middle-class, knocking the economy where it can least afford it.