The rich got richer, and paid less taxes

What George W. Bush didn't want you to know about the wealthiest 400 Americans

Published February 18, 2010 12:16AM (EST)

I can't say that I was surprised to learn, from a new report by former New York Times tax reporter David Cay Johnston, that "the incomes of the top 400 American households soared to a new record high... in 2007, while the income tax rates they paid fell to a record low..."

Nor was I shocked to learn that those 400 taxpayers, who boasted an average income of $344.8 million, paid an effective tax rate of 16.2 percent, which is "lower than the typical effective income tax rate paid by Americans with incomes in the low six figures."

This is America, right? We've come to expect shocking statistics on income inequality. They're practically our birth right.

But then came the kicker:

The annual top 400 report was first made public by the Clinton administration, but the George W. Bush administration shut down access to the report. Its release was resumed a year ago when President Obama took office.

Because you know, if you are going to reward the richest Americans with tax cuts, it's best if you keep the rest of us in the dark as to just how much money they're making, and how little they are paying Uncle Sam.

By Andrew Leonard

Andrew Leonard is a staff writer at Salon. On Twitter, @koxinga21.

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