# If the rich paid all the taxes in the US, how many people would that be?

I guess the problem with the question is this…There are two variables that need to change. The percent of taxes paid by rich people or whether or not the government would confiscate all property.

Obviously at the current rate of taxation, we all have to pay taxes. At the extreme end, only a certain group would need to pay. that’s starting at 100 percent on income. If you wanted to be even more extreme you could confiscate all property too which would make the list grow even shorter. But I understand the interest behind the math problem, its just that it doesn’t sound like you’ve considered all the options.

Having a look here at the data, i’ll give you a scenario.

Therein it says that the top 1 percent of all Americans (roughly 3 million people) made 631,700 dollars a year. so if you multiply that by 3 million, you get 1.895 trillion, which isn’t even enough to actually cover it. So what if we go down to the next bracket.

Top Fifth This group makes a total of 7.8 trillion. So if they payed an average of 28 percent tax (AS A GROUP) then they would manage it. But then remember, this is only an average tax rate for an average income, so this means the Rich will only be paying 28 percent of the 130,000 that is the average income for the grope. basically it means, 60 million americans need to pay 36,400 dollars to pay the taxes. As we found out earlier, the richest 1 percent can’t pay by income alone. The original question was answered by the forbes list question though…

Nope, sorry. The question is plain as day. Some people are answering the thread title, and based on what they thought it was about before they even read the OP question.
While this is typical of any thread with the word Tax in it, I tried to head them off, but to no avail. They seem to think I am trying to discuss how to collect taxes. Confiscation? Brackets? Not in the question.

I said it was math and it is math.
This is the type of simple story question I ask my classes all the time. The math majors will arrive the next morning with a number, or a range.
The non-math majors will bring arguments why the problem is impossible. They will say “I couldn’t tell whether you wanted us to use the Amtrak schedule to get the train’s average speed, … Amtrak doesn’t go between those two towns, … you forgot to mention slowing down to cross bridges …”

I feel sorry for your class. Your OP says "If you start with Gates, and taxed his entire net worth ". A tax is most often a percentage of something. There is clearly an important piece of missing information: the tax rate. You can tax the entire net worth of someone at 10% for example. What you should have said was something like “If you start with Gates and levied a tax rate of 100% on his net worth…”.

It’s also pretty annoying that you already know the answer. From the OP it looks like the sort of question an adolescent would ask.

I din’t know the answer. I thought it was a good way to think of the relative size of taxes in the US. If you don’t think so, then I don’t care about your pity for my class.

So then it’s not a math question. You are trying to make some sort of political point, but then chastise those who try and bring the real world into it.

The day of a total eclipse, maybe. If I asked a question that obtuse to my Econ. students, they would be entirely correct to ask the questions we did. What tax rate are we talking about? Without that, the question is meaningless.

That’s why math majors aren’t required to take econ.

Look. You can not tax net worth. You can tax income or you can confiscate assets. But no matter how many times you say it, taxing net worth has no meaning whatsoever.

Econ majors are required to take math. It also helps if they take enough econ to know the basic vocabulary of the subject.

Your question has been answered and without political commentary. Now look up tax, assets, income, wealth, and what an estimate is before you come back to this thread.

So, let me get this straight. You’ve been around here since 1999 and you didn’t know that a list of the richest people in the US existed and that you could find it on the internet? Perhaps the reason people were confused is that the answer you are looking for is so obvious that it would seem odd to ask it in the first place. People don’t usually ask what amounts to “what is 2+2 ?” in GQ.

He doesn’t want an answer, he knows the answer and is baiting everybody so he can lord what he knows about. Never mind that this forum is “If you have a question ask it here” instead of “If you know something, act all superior and engage in Socratic questioning techniques and throw out sarcastic and biting remarks to those that don’t answer it in the EXACT format you are looking for.”

It really is his MO in all of his GQs.

Him: asks some vague question

Several people post to his thread

Him: “Geez guys, read my OP” / “This is typical of GQ, quit doing X” / “You aren’t answering my question” (it is already answered)

Lie.

I thought it was something worth knowing. That a person here would answer, as I asked, to an order of magnitude. Recall the OP: " would you need the ten richest guys? 100? 1000?" Somebody would say one of those numbers and I would say thanks. That’s the kind of question it was. Not hard, not a trick, I didn’t know the anwer. Sure I could have found out elsewhere, but that’s true of every other question on the forum.

To be fair, the OP did say if you taxed “…entire net worth…” how far down the list would you have to go to raise the requisite amount of money.

However in this country net worth is not taxed. Really and truly. If Bill Gates has \$50B and he keeps it in his mattress, he pays zero tax on it. You pay tax on money that you earn (and there’s stuff like property tax) but not on “static” wealth.

So when you talk about taxing net worth you have got to at least come up with a tax rate on otherwise non-taxable assets. Since there is currently no such rate, you need to make something up, and it will be between 0% (what we have now) and 100% (which is outright confiscation).

You didn’t suggest a number so the answer to your question is “It depends”. You’ve been given the list of net worths so you can throw them into Excel, plug in any tax rate that you want and see how many people will have to pony up to raise the money.

And that’s your answer. There’s no politics, no obfuscation, no moral question. You’re a math teacher, if somebody said “P times Q is 2.5 trillion, what is P?” I assume that you’d tell them the question can’t be answered without knowing “Q”?

If you don’t want to know the answer then don’t complain about the question.
If you are saying that before this thread you had a number, which is now confirmed to you, out with it.

You fail to understand your own question.

Define your terms. Entire net worth: what do you mean by this statement?
Taxed: What do you mean by this statement (specifically, taxed it at what rate?). Collect the entire national tax: what do you mean by “entire national tax?” These are not terms of precision you are using. If you were to specify your exact terms, you might get some helpful answers. But, as long as you petulantly refuse to explain what you mean, you will get yourself no help.

If you came here to answer the OP, you haven’t. If you came to argue that you do not approve of the OP, I get that. So are we done yet?

Pliny, you seem to have a habit of starting topics that make fairly broad statements and imprecise terms. Don’t get mad at people who are trying to get you to clarify your statements. People here are a pretty precise lot, and they like precision when they are looking at a problem. When you say things like “national tax,” you have no one to blame but yourself when people ask you to clarify this undefined term.

Here is the quesiton you wanted to ask: If I added up the net worth of the N richest people in the US, what would N be such that their total net worth equals the tax revenue collected by the US fedearal government from all sources in the year <whatever year you are interested in>.

That is **not **what you asked by a long shot. Seriously, dude, everyone is saying the same thing here, and if you’re going to start as many threads a day as you have been (looks like about 5-10 per day in the last week), then it will behoove you to write a clear OP.

If I understand you correctly, you are proposing a form of “eat the rich” taxation. In other words, some radical populist form of government is elected, and ignoring Constitutional problems and the like (and the fundamental economic distortions this will instantly cause), they decide to finance federal spending by confiscating the entire net worth of the X richest Americans, leaving the fortune of the X+1th person and all less wealthy individuals untouched (at least this year).

To start out with, let’s take the Forbes 400. These 400 or so people, each of which has a net worth of more than \$1.0 billion, have a cumulative net worth of \$1.25 trillion. So if the worth of these 400 individuals were confisgated, we could get obtain half of the approximately \$2.5 trillion in annual federal expenditures, leaving \$1.25 trillion to be obtained from the next richest Americans.

All remaining Americans not on the Forbes have a net worth of less than \$1 billion, and from them we have to get \$1,250 billion (\$1.25 trillion). This means that we will need more than 1,250 individuals to make this amount up, and probably a lot more because the wealth of those individuals drop from just under a billion to probably a lot less. If we had a function to estimate the net worth of the top individuals, we could probably get the number by summing the results of that function from 401 to X until we got \$1.25 trillion (you do the calculus).

If I had to guess, we probably could fund the budget for one year by confisgating the wealth of the top 5-10,000 Americans, and assuming the economy didn’t collapse and/or they didn’t emigrate and export their fortunes by then, probably 5 times that many the next year.

Actually, I’m kind of alarmed that you’re a teacher at all. Your ability to communicate clearly is very poor. You can’t even keep the semantics of your question straight, and you clearly don’t comprehend the meaning of the words you’re using.

Income != net worth

Tax (v.) != confiscate

I’d suggest that you need to radically change your attitude towards people who are very reasonably trying to understand what it is you mean.