If you put a floor at their current marginal tax rate of 35%, the government would obtain $37 billion more dollars. That might sound like a lot, but it amounts to just 2.5% of the 2009 $1.5 trillion deficit (which is the red line shown). If you increase the floor to the pre-Bush-tax-cut marginal rate of 39.6%, the additional revenue grows a bit — to $66 billion, or 4.5% of the year’s deficit.
Even if you get really aggressive, it doesn’t help much. Even a tax floor for these individuals at 75% would cover less than 20% of the year’s deficit. And, of course, even most populist among us probably worries that a tax rate that high could do more harm to the U.S. economy than good. All of these calculations also assume that these wealthy individuals wouldn’t find new and creative ways to ensure that their income was shielded from very high tax rates. (They would.)
(h/t Doug Ross)