The Cruelest Tax Of All

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percentage-income-spent-on-energy

A “progressive” tax is one where the wealthier you are the higher percentage of tax you pay. On the other hand, I’ve said before that a tax on energy, the so-called “carbon tax”, is one of the most regressive taxes available. It is the reverse of progressive, it hits the poor the hardest. This is because poor people spend a larger percentage of their income on energy than do rich people.
Someone challenged me on this claim about energy taxes the other day, and I realized I believed it without ever checking it … bad Willis, no cookies. So of course, having had that thought I had to take a look.

The Energy Information Agency (EIA) collects data on this, with the exception of gasoline usage. I got the most recent data, for 2009. (Excel workbook). Gasoline usage figures are here from the Bureau of Labor Statistics. Finally, income averages by tiers are available here from the Census Bureau.

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