Scarborough Falsely Claims 'The Average Millionaire-Billionaire Pays Eighteen Percent in Taxes'

Hours after NewsBusters debunked the myth about the rich paying less taxes as a percent of income than lower earners, and minutes before the Associated Press confirmed our figures, Joe Scarborough said Tuesday, "The average millionaire-billionaire pays eighteen percent in taxes in America."

Going completely contrary to actual Internal Revenue Service data released weeks ago, the "Morning Joe" host added, "If we can get the millionaires and billionaires to even pay 25 percent, there’d be a massive, that would be a massive influx of money" (video follows with transcript and commentary):

 


JOE SCARBOROUGH, CO-HOST: The average millionaire-billionaire pays eighteen percent in taxes in America. Doesn’t this sound like a great idea? Simpson-Bowles sound like a great idea? Close the loopholes. If we can get the millionaires and billionaires to even pay 25 percent, there’d be a massive, that would be a massive influx of money.

Not according to the IRS.

As NewsBusters reported Monday, as a percent of Adjusted Gross Income, folks making $1 million or more in 2009 paid between 22.6 and 25.8. In terms of taxable income, those numbers rose to between 26.3 and 29.7 percent.

The Media Research Center's Rich Noyes took these IRS figures and determined that as a percentage of taxable income, those making over $1,000,000 paid an average of 28.5. I've just calculated that as a percentage of AGI, it's 24.5.

"If we can get the millionaires and billionaires to even pay 25 percent, there’d be a massive, that would be a massive influx of money."

Assuming Scarborough was talking about in relation to AGI - which is somewhat foolish because marginal tax brackets are based on taxable income - the extra half a percent would have raised an additional $3.6 billion in 2009.

With a $1.5 trillion deficit, that's certainly not "massive."

It is indeed disappointing to see someone as bright as Scarborough not only falling for this nonsense but also repeating it on national television.

We expect this from the rest of the shills at MSNBC, but not him.

Of course, if he's got other IRS data to share with us that supports his eighteen percent contention, we'd love to see it.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.