The Upside-Down Tax

Carolyn Bertolino
6 min readOct 10, 2019

You’re Now Likely to be Paying a Higher Tax Rate than the Multi-Billionaires

Photo by The New York Public Library on Unsplash

The 2017 Tax Cut and Jobs Act was marketed to the American people as both a break in income taxes for the middle class and a stimulus; a form of financial relief that would cause corporations who were terribly overburdened with taxes to finally have enough money to spend money on things they’d been wanting but unable to do, such as paying their workers higher wages. Until 2009 the federal minimum was regularly adjusted for inflation but that couldn’t be done anymore, they told us, even though $7.25 back then was only worth $6.19 nine years later. The reason they gave us was that corporations just could not afford to be required to pay any more than that. The only way working Americans could hope to get more money in their pockets to meet their ever-rising bills was to lift the cumbersome yolk of the corporate income tax that their employers had been locked into and punished with for so long.

For more than a generation, the tax burden has gradually been shifting from corporations and the wealthiest people to wage-earners, but until now, the income tax was still somewhat progressive, that is, higher incomes for the most part paid higher rates. Wealthy people paying lower percentages of their income for certain taxes is no new concept, considering income above a certain amount is exempt Social Security tax and also that the sales tax burden falls more on lower incomes that are stuck spending more of their income on taxable goods. Starting last year, however, we entered what we can start thinking of as a new Gilded Age: the wealthiest 400 families are now paying a lower tax rate than half of Americans.

It had long been a major goal of both Donald Trump and traditional Republicans to lower the already lowered taxes for wealthy individuals and corporations. It’s the reason the Republicans got on board with Trump in spite of his obvious defects and it’s the reason Trump changed his tune on less important policy issues, such as abortion and the ACA mandate, in order to ensure that support. To achieve that end, on its way out the door, the Republican-led 115th Congress passed its massive tax cut and Donald Trump signed it into law. It wasn’t long before news broke that the largest corporations, already earning record profits, were using the tax savings not to pay their…

Carolyn Bertolino

I write about personal well-being and national issues. Read more from me and others at