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You’d think that “economist” (and possible U.S. Senate candidate) Sarah Steelman (r) would understand marginal tax rates. If you thought that you’d be wrong. Via Twitter:

The public is smart. Talked to Rick my pest control guy as he worked. He made case for lower taxes – the harder he works the less he makes. 10:48 AM Mar 18th from web

The republican stoopid, it burns.

So, if he works harder and has more income he has less? I don’t think so.

Let me explain marginal tax rates. The income in the top margin in the United States (for instance) is currently taxed at 35%. That means when you reach any amount above that margin you keep 65% of it. If you reach that.

The marginal tax rate is the rate on the last dollar of income earned. This is very different from the average tax rate, which is the total tax paid as a percentage of total income earned. In 2003, for example, the United States imposed a 35 percent tax on every dollar of taxable income above $155,975 earned by a married taxpayer filing separately. But that tax bracket applied only to earnings above that $155,975 threshold; income below that cutoff point would still be taxed at rates of 10 percent on the first $7,000, 15 percent on the next $14,400, and so on….

So, as you go beyond any marginal threshold, if you make it there, you’ll still make more money. The rate of income increase is slower, but it sure does continue to go up. And at a greater rate than in the past.

Years ago I received a phone call from a relative, worried that another relative was going to have to pay $20,000 in tax on a capital gain of $100,000 (I can’t quite remember the specific amounts, they were substantial from my frame of reference). I replied that this individual was still $80,000 ahead. “But, it’s $20,000.” “Uh, I had $12,000 in total income this year. They’re still $80,000 ahead.” “Oh…”

Then again, maybe that Twitter comment was a Mike Rowe kind of existential thing.