It is difficult to tax only the rich…

…because to a large extent they can pass the taxes on. After all, they are rich because they have some sort of market power, something somebody needs. If we increase the cost of providing whatever it is that rich people provide, they will just charge more for it.

Today’s example involves overpaid corporate executives. They get various perks, such as country club memberships or free use of company airplanes by their spouses. They also get extra-generous severance agreements. Congress has passed special taxes on these things. Do corporate executives pay them? No, most companies make additional payments to cover the taxes, and further additional payments to cover the taxes on the additional payments.

Note these executives and corporations aren’t taking advantage of any special loopholes here.

Source: “Rules shine light on ‘gross-up’ gravy train” Chicago Tribune, May 2 2007. If the Tribune puts this AP article behind a paid archive screen in a few days, versions might still be here or here . Earlier, a similar article appeared here , and some time ago here.

Of course there is a tax that mainly hits the rich, and cannot be passed on.

One thought on “It is difficult to tax only the rich…”

  1. The apostle of freedom, John Locke, said that all taxes are passed on except those applied to publicy-generated land values. Let’s see overpaid executives try to skirt around revenues drawn from natural resource rents!

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