Data released by the I.R.S. on Wednesday shows that tax rates on the income of America's 400 wealthiest taxpayers rose sharply to 22.9 percent in 2013, erasing a majority of the last two decades' decline in their effective tax rate.
As described in an article in The New York Times on Wednesday, tax rates on America's 400 wealthiest taxpayers fell sharply from the late 1990s through 2012, when their average effective income tax rate fell to 16.7 percent from 26.4 percent.
The reason behind the reversal is instructive. Broadly, if tax shelters are a problem, there are two ways to fix it. One is to outlaw them. The other way is to change the tax rate rules, so money inside the shelter is not treated so differently from money outside the shelter.
The spike in the wealthiest people's tax rates was mostly achieved the second way, and mostly through initiatives of President Obama. Two laws that he championed became effective in 2013, raising tax rates on high earners and limiting the value of tax deductions they are entitled to take.