Jamie Dimon, the CEO of JPMorgan Chase, offered a perfect example why domestic policy should not be so focused on the tax code. Because, in truth, he doesn’t even know his own marginal tax rate:
Big banks, and CEOs like Dimon, have come under fire from Occupy Wall Street and other protesters who are disgruntled about income inequality and feel that big corporations — financial institutions in particular — have undue influence on government. In fact, last month, the protesters in New York targeted Dimon specifically, marching to his apartment and the residences of other wealthy New Yorkers.
Dimon said he’s worked on Wall Street for much of his life and contributed his fair share.
“Most of us wage earners are paying 39.6 percent in taxes and add in another 12 percent in New York state and city taxes and we’re paying 50 percent of our income in taxes,” Dimon said in defense of his fellow Wall Street bankers.
Let me start my budding career as a fact-checker by giving Dimon FOUR Pinocchios! His tax rate is not 39.6%; that was the top rate in the Clinton years. He pays a 35% rate on his earnings above $375,000. It’s not like this is a big secret; it’s been the main national domestic policy of the last decade, the cause of endless fights between the parties that continue to this day.
As Matt Yglesias writes, conservatives love to discourse about the negative impact of higher tax rates on the spending behaviors of the rich. The fact that one of the more educated members, at least on financial matters, of that elite 1% class doesn’t even know what the top marginal tax rate is tends to cut against this theory. In fact, for the vast majority of Americans, they think about their tax rates maybe once a year, around filing time, if they don’t just dump their receipts on their accountant and let them sort it out, which is obviously Dimon’s preferred strategy.
The behavioral economics argument on tax rates, then, is a lot of bunk. The tax code ought to benefit the country by raising the revenue needed to maximize employment and keep inflation in check. It should have nothing to do with coddling the rich, who at this point have so much money that they are completely insulated from even knowing about their own marginal tax rates.