Once Upon a Time the US Taxed the Rich

Once upon a time, the United States seriously taxed the nation’s rich. You remember that time? Probably not. To have a personal memory of that tax-the-rich era, you now have to be well into your seventies.

Back at the tail-end of that era, in the early 1960s, America’s richest faced a 91 percent tax rate on income in the top tax bracket. That top rate had been hovering around 90 percent for the previous two decades. In the 1950s, a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower, made no move to knock it down.

The rich felt those taxes. The high life struggled. Consider what happened to one fabled emblem of that era’s excess, the nation’s first-ever penthouse.

Marjorie Merriweather Post, an heiress who had become America’s richest woman, had that penthouse built atop a new Park Avenue luxury tower in 1925. The top federal tax rate then in effect as builders were putting the finishing touches on Post’s spectacular three-floor, 54-room residence: just 25 percent.

The Post clan held on to that penthouse for the next 15 years and then decided to “move on.” The American people, by that time, had decided to move on as well—from bargain-basement tax rates on high incomes. In 1940, the federal tax rate on income over $200,000 started at 66 percent. By 1944, the top tax rate on all income over $200,000—about $3.4

— source inequality.org | Sam Pizzigati | Dec 3, 2022

Nullius in verba


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