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About Half of Tax Returns Report Less than $30,000

1 min readBy: Andrew Lundeen, Scott Hodge

To understand the distribution of the income taxA tax is a mandatory payment or charge collected by local, state, and national governments from individuals or businesses to cover the costs of general government services, goods, and activities. burden, we must first understand the distribution of tax filers. The median taxpayer earns roughly $33,000. This means that half of the 145 million tax filers (about 72 million or so) earn less than $33,000 and half earn more. While only about 14 percent of taxpayers earn more than $100,000, they pay the vast majority of all income taxes in America today.

We should always keep in mind that no two tax returns are alike. While one tax return may represent the wage income of a single individual or head of household, another may represent the income of a two-earner married couple, composed of a mix of sources such as capital gains, dividends, or even the profits from a family-owned business. Failing to account for these differences can give a false impression of inequality in America.

For more charts like the one below, see the second edition of our chart book, Putting a Face on America's Tax Returns.