You Can’t Tax the Rich

Ninety years ago — in 1921 — federal income-tax policies reached an absurdity that many people today seem to want to repeat. Those who believe in high taxes on “the rich” got their way. The tax rate on people in the top income bracket was 73 percent in 1921. On the other hand, the rich also got their way: They didn’t actually pay those taxes.

The number of people with taxable incomes of $300,000 a year or more — equivalent to far more than $1 million in today’s money — declined from over 1,000 people in 1916 to fewer than 300 in 1921. Were the rich all going broke?

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