On today’s opinion page, Scott LaPlante (letter, July 28) complained that more Americans should shoulder the tax burden and that the “free ride” must stop.

He goes on to say that the top 10 percent of wage earners pay 70 percent of all income taxes and that 49 percent of the population pays no income taxes.

Here are some more facts: The top 10 percent of Americans own 85 percent of all stocks, bonds and nonresidential real estate, while the bottom half of Americans or 50 percent, own just 2 percent.

How can that be?

Well, the truth of the matter is that the income tax represents only a part of the overall taxation that Americans pay.

For the past 20 years, the overall effective tax burden has fallen on the middle class, and the top 10 percent pay an overall effective tax rate of less than 20 percent, the lowest in American history.

The poor who pay no income tax do pay just about every other tax, and as we know there, are plenty of them, including the “hidden tax” of inflation.

The wealthy, since Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush, got tax cuts on their extensive stock and bond holdings even during times of war. Those stocks and bonds are the major sources of income for the wealthy these days.

One more important variable to consider is the fact that the average worker’s pay has stagnated over the past four decades, while the average CEO’s pay has risen from 25 times the average worker’s to as much as 400 times.

One need look at the great wealth gap that exists in America today to conclude that the wealthy don’t really pay that much in taxes after all.

Carl Davis

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