Expert says federal income tax has made Americans forget how much non-national taxes are paid

Brookings Institute fellow Vanessa Williamson said Thursday that there has been so much attention paid to the federal income tax that state and local taxes are often overlooked when looking at people's total tax payments.

"We focus so heavily on the federal income tax, which is a progressive tax, that we lose sight of the ways that people are chipping in," Williamson, author of "Read My Lips: Why Americans Are Proud To Pay Taxes," told Hill.TV's Jamal Simmons on "What America's Thinking." 

"If you look at what low-income people are actually paying in taxes, it's about a fifth of their income, and if you're making $25,000 a year, a fifth of your income is a lot of money," she continued. 

"Politically, we talk a ton about the federal income tax," she said. "Wealthy people have to pay it so it's automatically politically significant because people have donors. Also, it's national in the way that sales taxes, and payroll taxes, and property taxes, and all of these other kinds of taxes aren't national taxes," she added. 

Williamson's comments come amid renewed debate on a proposed 70 percent tax on the wealthy.

Newly minted Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-CortezAlexandria Ocasio-CortezOcasio-Cortez reveals new policies for campaign aides with children Kennedy launches primary challenge against Markey The Memo: 'Whistleblower' furor gains steam MORE (D-N.Y.) has sparked debate among Democrats and the American public on proposing such a tax on wealthy Americans. 

“You look at our tax rates back in the '60s and when you have a progressive tax rate system your tax rate, you know, let's say, from zero to $75,000 maybe 10 percent or 15 percent, et cetera. But once you get to, like, the tippy-tops — on your 10 millionth dollar — sometimes you see tax rates as high as 60 or 70 percent,” Ocasio-Cortez said earlier this month. 

— Julia Manchester