At NPR’s Planet Money, Quoctrung Bui has put together an attractive and interesting data visualization on real income growth in the United States. As he describes it, there are two distinct eras for income growth since...
- The Tax Policy Blog
- Some Historical Tax Stats
Some Historical Tax Stats
The IRS's Statistics of Income Division is a gold mine of data for serious tax wonks. One lesser-known product the IRS puts out every year is the public use microdata file - for a (not so) small fee, you get a sample of hundreds of thousands of tax returns that you can slice and dice any way you want. (The data is statistically blurred in such a way so as to prevent the identification of any individual taxpayer.)
I recently looked through some IRS microdata from the year 1960, and stumbled across the following interesting facts:
- In 1960, the top 1% of households earned 9% of all income, and paid 13% of all taxes. (In 2008, the top 1% earned 20% of all income, and paid 38% of all taxes.)
- The top marginal tax rate in 1960 was 91%, which applied to income over $200,000 (for single filers) or $400,000 (for married filers) - thresholds which correspond to approximately $1.5 million and $3 million, respectively, in today's dollars. Approximately 0.00235% of households had income taxed at the top rate.
- A taxpayer at the very bottom of the top 1% (in other words, one who is right on the boundary between the 98th and 99th percentiles) had a nominal income of $24,435, or about $190,000 in today's dollars. (In 2008, this figure was nominally $380,354, or $400,000 in current dollars.)
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