The Internal Revenue Service has released tax statistics for 2006.  You can view them yourself, at the IRS site.  Having neither the time nor the mental energy to sort it all out, however, I'm glad the tax folks at J.K. Lasser have done the job already, and I'm going to take their word for it.  You are welcome to take my word for their word, if you'd like.

How rich—or poor—do you think you are?  Are you paying your fair share of taxes?  What about the other guy?  Forget, for the moment, comparison with the rest of the world—how do you compare with your fellow Americans?  Statistics are slippery things, so take these as you will.  Bear in mind, also, that the percentages given here are based on the number of income tax filers; anyone who did not file an income tax return for the year 2006 is not counted, and neither is any money made in  underground economy.  AGI = Adjusted Gross Income, Line 37 on Form 1040.

    Share of Total Share of Total Average
% of Filers AGI Threshold AGI Income Tax Tax Rate
Top 1% $388,806 22.06% 39.89% 22.79%
Top 5% $153,542 36.66% 60.14% 20.68%
Top 10% $108,904 47.32% 70.79% 18.86%
Top 25% $64,702 68.16% 86.27% 15.95%
Top 50% $31,987 87.49% 97.01% 13.98%
Bottom 50% under $31,987 12.51% 2.99% 3.01%

A few intereting things to note.  For simplicity, I'm using terms like "income," "taxes," and "population" loosely; remember that the statistics are for AGI, Federal income taxes, and those who file Federal income tax forms.

  • Half the tax filers have an AGI of under $32,000.
  • The bottom 50% earns less than 13% of the total income, while the top 1% earns 22%.
  • Forty percent of all income tax revenues come from the top 1%.
  • Half the population (more, when you count non-filers) pays less than 3% of the taxes.
Posted by sursumcorda on Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 9:48 am | Edit
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It isn't really a good (even "loosely") to compare AGI to income is it? I think your bullet points are fine, except for the second one. If all the conspiracy theories are true, then the top 1% (or more) have a greater (percentage and actual) difference in AGI to gross income than us "poor" people...

Posted by Jon Daley on Saturday, April 18, 2009 at 10:23 pm

The AGI seems pretty comprehensive to me, including wages, salaries, tips, taxable interest, dividends, alimony, business income, capital gains, IRA distributions, pensions, rental, income, royalties, farm income, social security benefits, unemployment compensation, and the catch-all "other income." True, you get to subtract a few things, like alimony paid, half the self-employment tax, moving expenses, and some other odds and ends, but the AGI is calculated before most deductions and tax credits.

Posted by SursumCorda on Sunday, April 19, 2009 at 6:43 am

Is that "average tax rate" the average rate of federal income taxes, all taxes (including payroll, state, local, sales, property, etc.), or some other subset?

Posted by Peter V on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 10:32 am

Federal income tax, I'm sure, since it's based on IRS tax returns.

Posted by SursumCorda on Monday, April 20, 2009 at 11:20 am
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