Reality check

Who pays more in taxes?

Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney announced that he has paid a tax rate of at least 13 percent on his income in each of the last 10 years. A look how his tax rate compares, and why some wealthy Americans pay a smaller share of their income to the IRS:

The top 20 percent of households earn 55 percent of total U.S. income . . .


. . . and shoulder 70 percent of the federal tax burden.

Tax share

Tax rates vary by income. On average, households with higher incomes pay a larger share of their income in federal tax than those with lower incomes.

Tax rates by quintile

But averages can be misleading, because rates vary by type of federal tax . . .

Types of tax rates

. . . and even within type.

Types of tax rates

So if you compare a middle-class worker with few investments . . .

Wind damage

. . . to a rich person who draws most of their income as capital gains. . .

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. . . then the middle-class person might pay a larger share of income in taxes than the rich person.

Wind damage

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SOURCE: Tax Policy Center. GRAPHIC: Karen Yourish and Laura Stanton - The Washington Post. Published Sept. 23, 2011. Updated Aug. 16, 2012