a paper by a prominent team of economists says the tax rate for top U.S. earners could be hiked to 83 percent without hurting anyone but the “mega rich.” And in what’s sure to add gasoline to the income-inequality debate, they suggest pay increases for the wealthiest few reflect mostly “rent seeking” — econo-speak for unshackled greed — rather than executive-suite productivity improvements.
Thomas Piketty of the Paris School of Economics, Emmanuel Saez of Berkeley and Stefanie Stantcheva of MIT reach those conclusions after disputing that tax cuts in several countries since the 1970s had any real impact on per-capita GDP growth. As they say in their less wonky summary (hat tip to 3 Quarks Daily)... “countries that made large cuts in top tax rates such as the United Kingdom or the United States have not grown significantly faster than countries that did not, such as Germany or Denmark.”
What does show a strong correlation is falling tax rates and the share of pre-tax income held by the top 1 percent — doubled in the U.S., to more than 20 percent, over the past 40 years. (emphasis added)