Fact Check: Obama wrong on tax rates 

At Wednesday’s Twitter Town Hall, President Obama claimed: “We actually now have the lowest tax rates since the 1950s. Our tax rates are lower now than they were under Ronald Reagan. They’re lower than they were under George Bush — senior or George Bush, junior.” This statement is false.

According to The Tax Foundation’s Federal Individual Income Tax Rates History table, the top marginal tax rate is currently 35 percent. In 1992, under President George H.W. Bush the top marginal rate was 4 points lower than today’s rate at 31 percent. In 1988, under President Ronald Reagan the top marginal rate was 7 points lower than today’s rate at 28 percent.

It is true, however, that tax revenues collected as a percentage of GDP are at historic lows. A February 7th Associated Press article did report, “Actually, as a share of the nation’s economy, Uncle Sam’s take this year will be the lowest since 1950, when the Korean War was just getting under way. … In the current budget year, federal tax receipts will be equal to 14.8 percent of the Gross Domestic Product, or GDP, the lowest level since Harry Truman was president.”

But the AP went on to report that the recession and tax loopholes, not lower tax rates, were the cause of the revenue drop: “The poor economy is largely to blame, with corporate profits down and unemployment up. But so is a tax code that grows each year with new deductions, credits and exemptions.”

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Conn Carroll

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