As a practicing CPA for nearly forty years, the wealthy are my clients and they are assuredly the ones paying the most taxes. The people in the highest tax bracket fall into three categories 1) Small business owners (200-2000 employees); 2) Executives working for a company; and 3) Wealthy individuals by inheritance or investment. Allowing the tax rate to rise affects each of these groups differently, but all impact the economy and its recovery greatly.
With the first group, most small business owners are arranged as an Scorp or LLC, which means they pay tax rates at the individual level, not business. Raising the rate to 39.6% raises the rate on these businesses. Most of the money made by these owners is reinvested in their company. They basically take out enough income on which to live and anything more gets put back into their business. So, if you increase their taxes, there is less money to reinvest in their company and back into the economy. This is important point because spending money as a means of recovery is much less effective and stimulative than investment.
Regarding the second group, most executives working for a company enjoy a large salary; however, much of that salary is fueled by stock options which make their taxes larger. Quite typically, the proceeds of that income is returned the company via more stock, which funnels growth, or cash is reinvested as needed. An increase in taxes will decrease their ability to best allocate their business returns.
Although the third group of individuals often have a lifestyle that is inherited, more money that is taxed out of that lifestyle means there is less to invest in appropriate economic endeavors – i.e. hedge funds, equities, and high risk funds. Those very investments are responsible for much of the entrepreneurship in this country. Taking away available capital via tax increases reduces innovation in the economy.
In a time of a recession unprecedented since the Great Depression, economic improvement is crucial. Inflicting tax increases on the segment of the population most able to invest in our economy and businesses will only slow our sluggish recovery. Trying to punish the taxpayers for the sake of campaign sound bites and political gain is both reprehensible and repugnant.