Economic Story Hour

IN OCTOBER, DAVID Leonhardt of The New York Times published an animated chart that was supposed to show how much less progressive American tax rates had become since 1950. Back then, the animation said, the marginal income tax rate on top earners was 70 percent; now it’s only about 23 percent. Meanwhile, the rate paid by the poorest Americans had gone up.

Many people retweeted the chart, including presidential candidate Elizabeth Warren. But not everyone was impressed. Economists on both the left and the right noted that the scholars behind the estimate, Gabriel Zucman and Emmanuel Saez, did not account for transfers, such as the Earned Income Tax Credit or Social Security benefits, and that they made debatable assumptions about who bears the burden of corporate taxes. Others took issue with how Zucman and Saez calculated income. Most other

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