The History of US Corporate Taxes In Four Colorful Charts

Are American corporations overtaxed? Let’s find out! First off, here are corporate profits and tax rates since the Reagan era:

Profits have been going up, up, up. Tax rates have been going down, down, down. You can probably guess what this means for owners of capital: they’ve been doing really, really well. Indeed, net dividend payouts to shareholders are up more than 400 percent:

And American tax rates are really low compared to other countries:

Since 1980, obviously, corporations have been doing great. So has this trickled down to the common man? Let’s check out how the middle class is doing:

So there you have it. Over the past four decades, corporate profits have doubled; tax rates have been cut in half; dividend payouts have gone up 400 percent; and the household income of the middle class has…

Gone up a whopping 20 percent.

But don’t worry. This time trickle-down economics will work. Believe me.


Headshot of Editor in Chief of Mother Jones, Clara Jeffery

It sure feels that way to me, and here at Mother Jones, we’ve been thinking a lot about what journalism needs to do differently, and how we can have the biggest impact.

We kept coming back to one word: corruption. Democracy and the rule of law being undermined by those with wealth and power for their own gain. So we're launching an ambitious Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption, and asking the MoJo community to help crowdfund it.

We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We want to dig into the forces and decisions that have allowed massive conflicts of interest, influence peddling, and win-at-all-costs politics to flourish.

It's unlike anything we've done, and we have seed funding to get started, but we're looking to raise $500,000 from readers by July when we'll be making key budgeting decisions—and the more resources we have by then, the deeper we can dig. If our plan sounds good to you, please help kickstart it with a tax-deductible donation today.

Thanks for reading—whether or not you can pitch in today, or ever, I'm glad you're with us.

Signed by Clara Jeffery

Clara Jeffery, Editor-in-Chief

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