Friday, October 24th, 2014
True
Clinton
Tax rates were significantly higher "in the '40s, the '50s, and the '60s."

Hillary Clinton on Wednesday, April 30th, 2008 in South Bend, Ind.

Rates were a lot higher back in the day

In a free-wheeling interview on the Fox News Network, Bill O'Reilly and Hillary Clinton mixed it up over gas prices, health care, and taxes.

On taxes, Clinton and O'Reilly argued about what tax rates were like when their fathers were working.

Clinton: "You were growing up on Long Island. I was growing up outside of Chicago. You know, my dad got up every day. He was a small business man. He worked his head off, but he didn't feel like the deck was stacked against him. He thought, OK, I'm going to be treated fairly if I do my part."

O'Reilly: "Here's where you're wrong. In my neighborhood, Levittown, there was no income distribution at all. There was earning money. And you kept most of it because taxes were really low."

Clinton: "That is not true. Look at the tax rates in the '40s, the '50s, and the '60s."

O'Reilly: "For the wealthy they were high, but not for my dad."

Clinton: "Well, so why don't we go back to what we had in the '50s and the '60s then? Go back to 70 percent..."

O'Reilly: "Because there were no wealthy people then. There were very, very few."

Clinton: "When President Kennedy made that dramatic announcement he was going to cut the top rate from 90 percent to 70 percent, people stood up and cheered. All I want to do is get back to what worked in the '90s."

We wondered who was right in this exchange and what the tax rates were when Clinton and O'Reilly were young.

Today, tax rates range from 10 percent for lower incomes to 35 percent for the highest incomes. (See a chart of tax rates over time from the Tax Foundation here .)

Kennedy urged tax cuts that went into effect in 1964. Prior to that, tax rates started at 20 percent for the lowest bracket and went up to 91 percent for the highest bracket. The rates were similar throughout the 1940s and 1950s.

We looked at incomes and tax rates in 1963, then adjusted for inflation and looked at today's tax rates.

We found:

* A person making $2,500 a year in 1963 was taxed at 22 percent. Today that would be $17,445, taxed at 15 percent.

* A person making $5,000 a year in 1963 was taxed at 26 percent. Today that would be $34,890, taxed at 25 percent.

* A person making $10,000 a year in 1963 was taxed at 34 percent. Today that would be $69,780, taxed at 25 percent.

* A person making $15,000 a year in 1963 was taxed at 47 percent. Today that would be $104,670, taxed at 28 percent.

* A person making $25,000 a year in 1963 was taxed at 59 percent. Today that would be $174,450, taxed at 33 percent.

The 1963 rates are higher than today's rates. It's true that the tax code is substantially different today, with many credits and rules that didn't exist then. But on the question of income tax rates, we find that Hillary Clinton has her history right. We rate her statement True.