Dimon should probably know better

JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon appeared on CNBC the other day, complaining about the awful tax burden felt by very wealthy people like him. Unfortunately, as Matt Yglesias noted, Dimon flubbed the key details.

Next time you read an article about the behavioral response to marginal tax rates on high income earners, I would urge you to refer back to JP Morgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon’s fine whine that “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.”

The thing about this is that the actual top marginal income tax rate is 35 percent. The entire debate in Congress over taxes is that President Obama wants to restore the top marginal rate to the level that Dimon thinks it already is. Meanwhile, Dimon doesn’t even know what tax rate he pays.

I’d just add, by the way, that Dimon is also overlooking the marginal nature of the federal income tax structure. The JP Morgan Chase CEO sees a 35% top rate (which he thinks is actually 39.6%) and assumes that means Uncle Sam takes 35% of his income. But that’s not how income taxes work — the 35% only applies to the income he and other wealthy make over $250,000.

And even that, Ezra Klein noted, is the working figure “before Dimon’s accountant gets involved.”

That very likely matters a great deal, since Dimon probably benefits from all kinds of tax expenditures — the home mortgage interest deduction, for example — that send money back his way.

All told, Dimon (a) seems a little confused about policies he should be more familiar with; and (b) doesn’t really have anything to whine about.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.