New Tax Foundation Report: Substantial Mobility of Taxpayers Across Income Spectrum

June 21, 2010

We have released a new report that shows significant movement of American households up and down the income spectrum over time, challenging claims of income inequality based on snapshot analyses of income distribution. Nearly 60 percent of taxpayers who were in the bottom-earning 20 percent in 1999 (earning less than $13,000) were in a higher income group in 2007, while nearly 40 percent of taxpayers who were in the top 20 percent in 1999 (earning more than $68,000) moved down in 2007.

Income mobility is even greater among high-income earners, who recently have been popular targets of federal and state tax policy proposals. Roughly half of millionaires from 1999 to 2007 were millionaires in just one year in the nine-year time period. By contrast, only 6 percent were millionaires in all nine years, according to the report, authored by Tax Foundation Senior Fellow Robert Carroll, Ph.D.


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