Sales Attacks, Pt. I

Me, I like numbers, which is why the recent re-re-resurrection of a sales tax proposal sparked off by an op-ed from Rep. Scott Bruun (R-McMinnville) in the Oregonian — coinciding as it does with the kickoff of Ben “I was a Republican two years ago” Westlund for Treasurer in the Democratic primary — and picked up by Blue Oregon (again) and the Oregon Economics Blog (here, here, here, here, here, here, and here) just seemed so blatantly off the mark. It was virtually devoid of actual data, and from the op-ed to many of the commenters, unfounded assertions were flying right and left.

This chart is just a quick (relatively) dip in the water with some data analysis. The wedges in the chart represent the proportion of personal income tax returns filed in 2005 in Oregon, grouped by income. The height of each slice shows the net total amount of personal income tax that group paid. Roll your mouse over the wedges to see the legend.

The data in the graph and the table below are derived from the Oregon Department of Revenue’s Detail Tables: All Returns and Full-Year Resident Returns (by AGI) which has data on the 2005 tax returns.

Adjusted Gross Income Number of Returns Level Total AGI (1,000s) Level Total Net Tax (1,000s) % of Returns % of All AGI % of All Net Tax Level AGI/Net Tax ratio
less than $20,000 638,004 $4,462,879 $159,567 37.61% 5.37% 3.33% 0.62
$20,000 – $30,000 223,096 $5,523,981 $223,724 13.15% 6.65% 4.67% 0.70
$30,000 – $40,000 173,620 $6,042,093 $276,437 10.23% 7.27% 5.78% 0.79
$40,000 – $50,000 137,192 $6,148,157 $294,134 8.09% 7.40% 6.14% 0.83
$50,000 – $60,000 111,007 $6,087,227 $300,733 6.54% 7.33% 6.28% 0.86
$60,000 – $70,000 90,669 $5,875,611 $300,834 5.34% 7.07% 6.28% 0.89
$70,000 – $80,000 70,759 $5,292,154 $282,440 4.17% 6.37% 5.90% 0.93
$80,000 – $100,000 96,631 $8,610,545 $487,738 5.70% 10.36% 10.19% 0.98
more than $100,000 155,539 $35,032,382 $2,461,177 9.17% 42.17% 51.42% 1.22

In the chart and table, you can see the number of returns filed for the year, as well as the sum of the adjusted gross income (AGI) reported and the net tax paid.

The largest cohort by far in this chart is filers reporting under $20,000 in income. That includes teenagers, retirees, part-time workers, and about 20,000 returns that showed losses from rental properties and other Schedule E deductions. But while this group made up more than a third of the filers (% of Returns), it paid only one-thirtieth of the personal income taxes collected that year (% of Net Tax). Not surprisingly, that fat third of the populace only made a little over 5% of the total AGI reported on Oregon tax returns (% of AGI). That makes the ratio of AGI to Net Tax 0.62:1, which indicates that — on this raw basis — the group’s percent of the AGI reported for the state as a whole was greater than the percentage it paid in taxes.

I’ve collapsed the higher-end categories in order to mesh with some other studies for future posts, but if you look at the Excel file from the state, you can see that the 7,511 filers who claimed more than $500,000 in income paid one-sixth of the total personal income tax collected by the state in 2005.

More later.