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What are the justifications people use to say that the rich ought to pay more in income taxes than the poor? I'm only interested in justifications that work even if "the rich" legally earned their wealth through either hard work or plain luck - nothing illegal.

Here I'm referring to the absolute amount of income taxes paid (measured in currency) rather than a specific percentage of income.

My motivation for understanding this is that both a rich individual and a poor individual seem to be utilizing comparable quantities of public resources from local, State, and Federal governments (roads, education, police and military protection, etc.). Both individuals also receive a single vote in elections. However billionaires contribute far more in taxes.


migration rejected from philosophy.stackexchange.com Mar 14 at 17:26

This question came from our site for those interested in logical reasoning. Votes, comments, and answers are locked due to the question being closed here, but it may be eligible for editing and reopening on the site where it originated.

closed as primarily opinion-based by Philipp, Brythan, Yannis Mar 14 at 17:26

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise.If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

@RobertF could you clarify what sort of framework you would like us to evaluate this question from? There are many different political philosophies, which may give different answers or at least very different reasons for similar outcomes. – virmaior Mar 11 at 12:16
@virmaior - Well I'm hoping there's a clear ethical explanation but it looks like we're getting into the weeds about whether the wealthy utilize more public resources than the poor. Perhaps I should have asked "Regardless how a rich person came across his wealth, is it fair to tax him more than the poor?" – RobertF Mar 11 at 15:03
@RobertF I'd like to point out that your question title is asking a different question from your question body. By definition of the word "fair" it is not fair for the rich to pay higher taxes, but that is not the same thing as there being a compelling ethical argument for it. – TylerH Mar 11 at 16:02
No. There is no such argument. It is a "deal with it" policy, not related at all with philosophy but with economy or politics – Luis Masuelli Mar 11 at 20:58
@RobertF I don't think that would have avoided the weeds. We're not here to settle disputes about taxes, etc. If you want the question to work well, you need to link it to a particular philosophy (say for instance Locke) and ask how he would view taxation. Instead, what you've got is everyone sharing their own opinion and people voting based on their politics. – virmaior Mar 12 at 1:35