A group of professors recently released a study that finds insufficient discussion of the total cost of taxes in public finance textbooks. They find that common textbooks fail to fully include the total cost of taxes...
- 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.)
Subscribe to the Tax Foundation Newsletter
Join the Tax Foundation's fight for sound tax policy Go
About the Tax Policy Blog
The Tax Policy Blog is the official weblog of the Tax Foundation, a non-partisan, non-profit research organization that has monitored tax policy at the federal, state and local levels since 1937. Our economists welcome your feedback. If you would like to send an e-mail to the author of a blog post, please click on that person's name to locate his or her e-mail address or visit our staff page here.