The Internal Revenue Service has recently released new data on individual income taxes for calendar year 2014, showing the number of taxpayers, adjusted gross income, and income tax shares by income percentiles.[1]

The data demonstrates that the U.S. individual income tax continues to be very progressive, borne mainly by the highest income earners.

  • In 2014, 139.6 million taxpayers reported earning $9.71 trillion in adjusted gross income and paid $1.37 trillion in individual income taxes.
  • The share of income earned by the top 1 percent of taxpayers rose to 20.6 percent in 2014. Their share of federal individual income taxes also rose, to 39.5 percent.
  • In 2014, the top 50 percent of all taxpayers paid 97.3 percent of all individual income taxes while the bottom 50 percent paid the remaining 2.7 percent.
  • The top 1 percent paid a greater share of individual income taxes (39.5 percent) than the bottom 90 percent combined (29.1 percent).
  • The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid a 27.1 percent individual income tax rate, which is more than seven times higher than taxpayers in the bottom 50 percent (3.5 percent).

Reported Income and Taxes Paid Both Increased Significantly in 2014

Taxpayers reported $9.71 trillion in adjusted gross income (AGI) on 139.5 million tax returns in 2014. Total AGI grew by $675 billion from the previous year’s levels. There were 1.2 million more returns filed in 2014 than in 2013, meaning that average AGI rose by $4,252 per return, or 6.5 percent.

Meanwhile, taxpayers paid $1.37 trillion in individual income taxes in 2014, an 11.5 percent increase from taxes paid in the previous year. The average individual income tax rate for all taxpayers rose from 13.64 percent to 14.16 percent. Moreover, the average tax rate increased for all income groups, except for the top 0.1 percent of taxpayers, whose average rate decreased from 27.91 percent to 27.67 percent.

The most likely explanation behind the higher tax rates in 2014 is a phenomenon known as “real bracket creep.” [2] As incomes rise, households are pushed into higher tax brackets, and are subject to higher overall tax rates on their income. On the other hand, the likely reason why the top 0.1 percent of households saw a slightly lower tax rate in 2014 is because a higher portion of their income consisted of long-term capital gains, which are subject to lower tax rates.[3]

The share of income earned by the top 1 percent rose to 20.58 percent of total AGI, up from 19.04 percent in 2013. The share of the income tax burden for the top 1 percent also rose, from 37.80 percent in 2013 to 39.48 percent in 2014.

  Top 1% Top 5% Top 10% Top 25% Top 50% Bottom 50% All Taxpayers
Table 1. Summary of Federal Income Tax Data, 2014
Number of Returns 1,395,620 6,978,102 13,956,203 34,890,509 69,781,017 69,781,017 139,562,034
Adjusted Gross Income ($ millions) $1,997,819 $3,490,867 $4,583,416 $6,690,287 $8,614,544 $1,094,119 $9,708,663
Share of Total Adjusted Gross Income 20.58% 35.96% 47.21% 68.91% 88.73% 11.27% 100.00%
Income Taxes Paid ($ millions) $542,640 $824,153 $974,124 $1,192,679 $1,336,637 $37,740 $1,374,379
Share of Total Income Taxes Paid 39.48% 59.97% 70.88% 86.78% 97.25% 2.75% 100.00%
Income Split Point $465,626 $188,996 $133,445 $77,714 $38,173    
Average Tax Rate 27.16% 23.61% 21.25% 17.83% 15.52% 3.45% 14.16%
 Note: Does not include dependent filers

High-Income Americans Paid the Majority of Federal Taxes

In 2014, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with AGIs below $38,173) earned 11.27 percent of total AGI. This group of taxpayers paid approximately $38 billion in taxes, or 2.75 percent of all income taxes in 2014.

In contrast, the top 1 percent of all taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs of $465,626 and above) earned 20.58 percent of all AGI in 2014, but paid 39.48 percent of all federal income taxes.

In 2014, the top 1 percent of taxpayers accounted for more income taxes paid than the bottom 90 percent combined. The top 1 percent of taxpayers paid $543 billion, or 39.48 percent of all income taxes, while the bottom 90 percent paid $400 billion, or 29.12 percent of all income taxes.

Figure 1.

High-Income Taxpayers Pay the Highest Average Tax Rates

The 2014 IRS data shows that taxpayers with higher incomes pay much higher average individual income tax rates than lower-income taxpayers.[4]

The bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (taxpayers with AGIs below $38,173) faced an average income tax rate of 3.45 percent. As household income increases, the IRS data shows that average income tax rates rise. For example, taxpayers with AGIs between the 10th and 5th percentile ($133,445 and $188,996) pay an average rate of 13.7 percent – almost four times the rate paid by those in the bottom 50 percent.

The top 1 percent of taxpayers (AGI of $465,626 and above) paid the highest effective income tax rate, at 27.2 percent, 7.9 times the rate faced by the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers.

Figure 2.

 

Taxpayers at the very top of the income distribution, the top 0.1 percent (with AGIs over $2.14 million), paid an even higher average tax rate, of 27.7 percent.

Appendix

Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top
5%
Between
5% & 10%
Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 2. Number of Federal Individual Income Tax Returns Filed 1980–2014 (Thousands)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 93,239   932 4,662 4,662 9,324 13,986 23,310 23,310 46,619 46,619
1981 94,587   946 4,729 4,729 9,459 14,188 23,647 23,647 47,293 47,293
1982 94,426   944 4,721 4,721 9,443 14,164 23,607 23,607 47,213 47,213
1983 95,331   953 4,767 4,767 9,533 14,300 23,833 23,833 47,665 47,665
1984 98,436   984 4,922 4,922 9,844 14,765 24,609 24,609 49,218 49,219
1985 100,625   1,006 5,031 5,031 10,063 15,094 25,156 25,156 50,313 50,313
1986 102,088   1,021 5,104 5,104 10,209 15,313 25,522 25,522 51,044 51,044
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 106,155   1,062 5,308 5,308 10,615 15,923 26,539 26,539 53,077 53,077
1988 108,873   1,089 5,444 5,444 10,887 16,331 27,218 27,218 54,436 54,436
1989 111,313   1,113 5,566 5,566 11,131 16,697 27,828 27,828 55,656 55,656
1990 112,812   1,128 5,641 5,641 11,281 16,922 28,203 28,203 56,406 56,406
1991 113,804   1,138 5,690 5,690 11,380 17,071 28,451 28,451 56,902 56,902
1992 112,653   1,127 5,633 5,633 11,265 16,898 28,163 28,163 56,326 56,326
1993 113,681   1,137 5,684 5,684 11,368 17,052 28,420 28,420 56,841 56,841
1994 114,990   1,150 5,749 5,749 11,499 17,248 28,747 28,747 57,495 57,495
1995 117,274   1,173 5,864 5,864 11,727 17,591 29,319 29,319 58,637 58,637
1996 119,442   1,194 5,972 5,972 11,944 17,916 29,860 29,860 59,721 59,721
1997 121,503   1,215 6,075 6,075 12,150 18,225 30,376 30,376 60,752 60,752
1998 123,776   1,238 6,189 6,189 12,378 18,566 30,944 30,944 61,888 61,888
1999 126,009   1,260 6,300 6,300 12,601 18,901 31,502 31,502 63,004 63,004
2000 128,227   1,282 6,411 6,411 12,823 19,234 32,057 32,057 64,114 64,114
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 119,371 119 1,194 5,969 5,969 11,937 17,906 29,843 29,843 59,685 59,685
2002 119,851 120 1,199 5,993 5,993 11,985 17,978 29,963 29,963 59,925 59,925
2003 120,759 121 1,208 6,038 6,038 12,076 18,114 30,190 30,190 60,379 60,379
2004 122,510 123 1,225 6,125 6,125 12,251 18,376 30,627 30,627 61,255 61,255
2005 124,673 125 1,247 6,234 6,234 12,467 18,701 31,168 31,168 62,337 62,337
2006 128,441 128 1,284 6,422 6,422 12,844 19,266 32,110 32,110 64,221 64,221
2007 132,655 133 1,327 6,633 6,633 13,265 19,898 33,164 33,164 66,327 66,327
2008 132,892 133 1,329 6,645 6,645 13,289 19,934 33,223 33,223 66,446 66,446
2009 132,620 133 1,326 6,631 6,631 13,262 19,893 33,155 33,155 66,310 66,310
2010 135,033 135 1,350 6,752 6,752 13,503 20,255 33,758 33,758 67,517 67,517
2011 136,586 137 1,366 6,829 6,829 13,659 20,488 34,146 34,146 68,293 68,293
2012 136,080 136 1,361 6,804 6,804 13,608 20,412 34,020 34,020 68,040 68,040
2013 138,313 138 1,383 6,916 6,916 13,831 20,747 34,578 34,578 69,157 69,157
2014 139,562 140 1,396 6,978 6,978 13,956 20,934 34,891 34,891 69,781 69,781
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 3. Adjusted Gross Income of Taxpayers in Various Income Brackets, 1980–2014 ($Billions)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 $1,627   $138 $342 $181 $523 $400 $922 $417 $1,339 $288
1981 $1,791   $149 $372 $201 $573 $442 $1,015 $458 $1,473 $318
1982 $1,876   $167 $398 $207 $605 $460 $1,065 $478 $1,544 $332
1983 $1,970   $183 $428 $217 $646 $481 $1,127 $498 $1,625 $344
1984 $2,173   $210 $482 $240 $723 $528 $1,251 $543 $1,794 $379
1985 $2,344   $235 $531 $260 $791 $567 $1,359 $580 $1,939 $405
1986 $2,524   $285 $608 $278 $887 $604 $1,490 $613 $2,104 $421
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 $2,814   $347 $722 $316 $1,038 $671 $1,709 $664 $2,374 $440
1988 $3,124   $474 $891 $342 $1,233 $718 $1,951 $707 $2,658 $466
1989 $3,299   $468 $918 $368 $1,287 $768 $2,054 $751 $2,805 $494
1990 $3,451   $483 $953 $385 $1,338 $806 $2,144 $788 $2,933 $519
1991 $3,516   $457 $943 $400 $1,343 $832 $2,175 $809 $2,984 $532
1992 $3,681   $524 $1,031 $413 $1,444 $856 $2,299 $832 $3,131 $549
1993 $3,776   $521 $1,048 $426 $1,474 $883 $2,358 $854 $3,212 $563
1994 $3,961   $547 $1,103 $449 $1,552 $929 $2,481 $890 $3,371 $590
1995 $4,245   $620 $1,223 $482 $1,705 $985 $2,690 $938 $3,628 $617
1996 $4,591   $737 $1,394 $515 $1,909 $1,043 $2,953 $992 $3,944 $646
1997 $5,023   $873 $1,597 $554 $2,151 $1,116 $3,268 $1,060 $4,328 $695
1998 $5,469   $1,010 $1,797 $597 $2,394 $1,196 $3,590 $1,132 $4,721 $748
1999 $5,909   $1,153 $2,012 $641 $2,653 $1,274 $3,927 $1,199 $5,126 $783
2000 $6,424   $1,337 $2,267 $688 $2,955 $1,358 $4,314 $1,276 $5,590 $834
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $6,116 $492 $1,065 $1,934 $666 $2,600 $1,334 $3,933 $1,302 $5,235 $881
2002 $5,982 $421 $960 $1,812 $660 $2,472 $1,339 $3,812 $1,303 $5,115 $867
2003 $6,157 $466 $1,030 $1,908 $679 $2,587 $1,375 $3,962 $1,325 $5,287 $870
2004 $6,735 $615 $1,279 $2,243 $725 $2,968 $1,455 $4,423 $1,403 $5,826 $908
2005 $7,366 $784 $1,561 $2,623 $778 $3,401 $1,540 $4,940 $1,473 $6,413 $953
2006 $7,970 $895 $1,761 $2,918 $841 $3,760 $1,652 $5,412 $1,568 $6,980 $990
2007 $8,622 $1,030 $1,971 $3,223 $905 $4,128 $1,770 $5,898 $1,673 $7,571 $1,051
2008 $8,206 $826 $1,657 $2,868 $905 $3,773 $1,782 $5,555 $1,673 $7,228 $978
2009 $7,579 $602 $1,305 $2,439 $878 $3,317 $1,740 $5,058 $1,620 $6,678 $900
2010 $8,040 $743 $1,517 $2,716 $915 $3,631 $1,800 $5,431 $1,665 $7,096 $944
2011 $8,317 $737 $1,556 $2,819 $956 $3,775 $1,866 $5,641 $1,716 $7,357 $961
2012 $9,042 $1,017 $1,977 $3,331 $997 $4,328 $1,934 $6,262 $1,776 $8,038 $1,004
2013 $9,034 $816 $1,720 $3,109 $1,034 $4,143 $2,008 $6,152 $1,844 $7,996 $1,038
2014 $9,709 $986 $1,998 $3,491 $1,093 $4,583 $2,107 $6,690 $1,924 $8,615 $1,094
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 4. Total Income Tax after Credits, 1980–2014 ($Billions)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 $249   $47 $92 $31 $123 $59 $182 $50 $232 $18
1981 $282   $50 $99 $36 $135 $69 $204 $57 $261 $21
1982 $276   $53 $100 $34 $134 $66 $200 $56 $256 $20
1983 $272   $55 $101 $34 $135 $64 $199 $54 $252 $19
1984 $297   $63 $113 $37 $150 $68 $219 $57 $276 $22
1985 $322   $70 $125 $41 $166 $73 $238 $60 $299 $23
1986 $367   $94 $156 $44 $201 $78 $279 $64 $343 $24
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 $369   $92 $160 $46 $205 $79 $284 $63 $347 $22
1988 $413   $114 $188 $48 $236 $85 $321 $68 $389 $24
1989 $433   $109 $190 $51 $241 $93 $334 $73 $408 $25
1990 $447   $112 $195 $52 $248 $97 $344 $77 $421 $26
1991 $448   $111 $194 $56 $250 $96 $347 $77 $424 $25
1992 $476   $131 $218 $58 $276 $97 $374 $78 $452 $24
1993 $503   $146 $238 $60 $298 $101 $399 $80 $479 $24
1994 $535   $154 $254 $64 $318 $108 $425 $84 $509 $25
1995 $588   $178 $288 $70 $357 $115 $473 $88 $561 $27
1996 $658   $213 $335 $76 $411 $124 $535 $95 $630 $28
1997 $727   $241 $377 $82 $460 $134 $594 $102 $696 $31
1998 $788   $274 $425 $88 $513 $139 $652 $103 $755 $33
1999 $877   $317 $486 $97 $583 $150 $733 $109 $842 $35
2000 $981   $367 $554 $106 $660 $164 $824 $118 $942 $38
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $885 $139 $294 $462 $101 $564 $158 $722 $120 $842 $43
2002 $794 $120 $263 $420 $93 $513 $143 $657 $104 $761 $33
2003 $746 $115 $251 $399 $85 $484 $133 $617 $98 $715 $30
2004 $829 $142 $301 $467 $91 $558 $137 $695 $102 $797 $32
2005 $932 $176 $361 $549 $98 $647 $145 $793 $106 $898 $33
2006 $1,020 $196 $402 $607 $108 $715 $157 $872 $113 $986 $35
2007 $1,112 $221 $443 $666 $117 $783 $170 $953 $122 $1,075 $37
2008 $1,029 $187 $386 $597 $115 $712 $168 $880 $117 $997 $32
2009 $863 $146 $314 $502 $101 $604 $146 $749 $93 $842 $21
2010 $949 $170 $355 $561 $110 $670 $156 $827 $100 $927 $22
2011 $1,043 $168 $366 $589 $123 $712 $181 $893 $120 $1,012 $30
2012 $1,185 $220 $451 $699 $133 $831 $193 $1,024 $128 $1,152 $33
2013 $1,232 $228 $466 $721 $139 $860 $203 $1,063 $135 $1,198 $34
2014 $1,374 $273 $543 $824 $150 $974 $219 $1,193 $144 $1,337 $38
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 5. Adjusted Gross Income Shares, 1980–2014 (percent of total AGI earned by each group)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 100%   8.46% 21.01% 11.12% 32.13% 24.57% 56.70% 25.62% 82.32% 17.68%
1981 100%   8.30% 20.78% 11.20% 31.98% 24.69% 56.67% 25.59% 82.25% 17.75%
1982 100%   8.91% 21.23% 11.03% 32.26% 24.53% 56.79% 25.50% 82.29% 17.71%
1983 100%   9.29% 21.74% 11.04% 32.78% 24.44% 57.22% 25.30% 82.52% 17.48%
1984 100%   9.66% 22.19% 11.06% 33.25% 24.31% 57.56% 25.00% 82.56% 17.44%
1985 100%   10.03% 22.67% 11.10% 33.77% 24.21% 57.97% 24.77% 82.74% 17.26%
1986 100%   11.30% 24.11% 11.02% 35.12% 23.92% 59.04% 24.30% 83.34% 16.66%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 100%   12.32% 25.67% 11.23% 36.90% 23.85% 60.75% 23.62% 84.37% 15.63%
1988 100%   15.16% 28.51% 10.94% 39.45% 22.99% 62.44% 22.63% 85.07% 14.93%
1989 100%   14.19% 27.84% 11.16% 39.00% 23.28% 62.28% 22.76% 85.04% 14.96%
1990 100%   14.00% 27.62% 11.15% 38.77% 23.36% 62.13% 22.84% 84.97% 15.03%
1991 100%   12.99% 26.83% 11.37% 38.20% 23.65% 61.85% 23.01% 84.87% 15.13%
1992 100%   14.23% 28.01% 11.21% 39.23% 23.25% 62.47% 22.61% 85.08% 14.92%
1993 100%   13.79% 27.76% 11.29% 39.05% 23.40% 62.45% 22.63% 85.08% 14.92%
1994 100%   13.80% 27.85% 11.34% 39.19% 23.45% 62.64% 22.48% 85.11% 14.89%
1995 100%   14.60% 28.81% 11.35% 40.16% 23.21% 63.37% 22.09% 85.46% 14.54%
1996 100%   16.04% 30.36% 11.23% 41.59% 22.73% 64.32% 21.60% 85.92% 14.08%
1997 100%   17.38% 31.79% 11.03% 42.83% 22.22% 65.05% 21.11% 86.16% 13.84%
1998 100%   18.47% 32.85% 10.92% 43.77% 21.87% 65.63% 20.69% 86.33% 13.67%
1999 100%   19.51% 34.04% 10.85% 44.89% 21.57% 66.46% 20.29% 86.75% 13.25%
2000 100%   20.81% 35.30% 10.71% 46.01% 21.15% 67.15% 19.86% 87.01% 12.99%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 100% 8.05% 17.41% 31.61% 10.89% 42.50% 21.80% 64.31% 21.29% 85.60% 14.40%
2002 100% 7.04% 16.05% 30.29% 11.04% 41.33% 22.39% 63.71% 21.79% 85.50% 14.50%
2003 100% 7.56% 16.73% 30.99% 11.03% 42.01% 22.33% 64.34% 21.52% 85.87% 14.13%
2004 100% 9.14% 18.99% 33.31% 10.77% 44.07% 21.60% 65.68% 20.83% 86.51% 13.49%
2005 100% 10.64% 21.19% 35.61% 10.56% 46.17% 20.90% 67.07% 19.99% 87.06% 12.94%
2006 100% 11.23% 22.10% 36.62% 10.56% 47.17% 20.73% 67.91% 19.68% 87.58% 12.42%
2007 100% 11.95% 22.86% 37.39% 10.49% 47.88% 20.53% 68.41% 19.40% 87.81% 12.19%
2008 100% 10.06% 20.19% 34.95% 11.03% 45.98% 21.71% 67.69% 20.39% 88.08% 11.92%
2009 100% 7.94% 17.21% 32.18% 11.59% 43.77% 22.96% 66.74% 21.38% 88.12% 11.88%
2010 100% 9.24% 18.87% 33.78% 11.38% 45.17% 22.38% 67.55% 20.71% 88.26% 11.74%
2011 100% 8.86% 18.70% 33.89% 11.50% 45.39% 22.43% 67.82% 20.63% 88.45% 11.55%
2012 100% 11.25% 21.86% 36.84% 11.03% 47.87% 21.39% 69.25% 19.64% 88.90% 11.10%
2013 100% 9.03% 19.04% 34.42% 11.45% 45.87% 22.23% 68.10% 20.41% 88.51% 11.49%
2014 100% 10.16% 20.58% 35.96% 11.25% 47.21% 21.70% 68.91% 19.82% 88.73% 11.27%
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 6. Total Income Tax Shares, 1980–2014 (percent of federal income tax paid by each group)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 100%   19.05% 36.84% 12.44% 49.28% 23.74% 73.02% 19.93% 92.95% 7.05%
1981 100%   17.58% 35.06% 12.90% 47.96% 24.33% 72.29% 20.26% 92.55% 7.45%
1982 100%   19.03% 36.13% 12.45% 48.59% 23.91% 72.50% 20.15% 92.65% 7.35%
1983 100%   20.32% 37.26% 12.44% 49.71% 23.39% 73.10% 19.73% 92.83% 7.17%
1984 100%   21.12% 37.98% 12.58% 50.56% 22.92% 73.49% 19.16% 92.65% 7.35%
1985 100%   21.81% 38.78% 12.67% 51.46% 22.60% 74.06% 18.77% 92.83% 7.17%
1986 100%   25.75% 42.57% 12.12% 54.69% 21.33% 76.02% 17.52% 93.54% 6.46%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 100%   24.81% 43.26% 12.35% 55.61% 21.31% 76.92% 17.02% 93.93% 6.07%
1988 100%   27.58% 45.62% 11.66% 57.28% 20.57% 77.84% 16.44% 94.28% 5.72%
1989 100%   25.24% 43.94% 11.85% 55.78% 21.44% 77.22% 16.94% 94.17% 5.83%
1990 100%   25.13% 43.64% 11.73% 55.36% 21.66% 77.02% 17.16% 94.19% 5.81%
1991 100%   24.82% 43.38% 12.45% 55.82% 21.46% 77.29% 17.23% 94.52% 5.48%
1992 100%   27.54% 45.88% 12.12% 58.01% 20.47% 78.48% 16.46% 94.94% 5.06%
1993 100%   29.01% 47.36% 11.88% 59.24% 20.03% 79.27% 15.92% 95.19% 4.81%
1994 100%   28.86% 47.52% 11.93% 59.45% 20.10% 79.55% 15.68% 95.23% 4.77%
1995 100%   30.26% 48.91% 11.84% 60.75% 19.62% 80.36% 15.03% 95.39% 4.61%
1996 100%   32.31% 50.97% 11.54% 62.51% 18.80% 81.32% 14.36% 95.68% 4.32%
1997 100%   33.17% 51.87% 11.33% 63.20% 18.47% 81.67% 14.05% 95.72% 4.28%
1998 100%   34.75% 53.84% 11.20% 65.04% 17.65% 82.69% 13.10% 95.79% 4.21%
1999 100%   36.18% 55.45% 11.00% 66.45% 17.09% 83.54% 12.46% 96.00% 4.00%
2000 100%   37.42% 56.47% 10.86% 67.33% 16.68% 84.01% 12.08% 96.09% 3.91%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 100% 15.68% 33.22% 52.24% 11.44% 63.68% 17.88% 81.56% 13.54% 95.10% 4.90%
2002 100% 15.09% 33.09% 52.86% 11.77% 64.63% 18.04% 82.67% 13.12% 95.79% 4.21%
2003 100% 15.37% 33.69% 53.54% 11.35% 64.89% 17.87% 82.76% 13.17% 95.93% 4.07%
2004 100% 17.12% 36.28% 56.35% 10.96% 67.30% 16.52% 83.82% 12.31% 96.13% 3.87%
2005 100% 18.91% 38.78% 58.93% 10.52% 69.46% 15.61% 85.07% 11.35% 96.41% 3.59%
2006 100% 19.24% 39.36% 59.49% 10.59% 70.08% 15.41% 85.49% 11.10% 96.59% 3.41%
2007 100% 19.84% 39.81% 59.90% 10.51% 70.41% 15.30% 85.71% 10.93% 96.64% 3.36%
2008 100% 18.20% 37.51% 58.06% 11.14% 69.20% 16.37% 85.57% 11.33% 96.90% 3.10%
2009 100% 16.91% 36.34% 58.17% 11.72% 69.89% 16.85% 86.74% 10.80% 97.54% 2.46%
2010 100% 17.88% 37.38% 59.07% 11.55% 70.62% 16.49% 87.11% 10.53% 97.64% 2.36%
2011 100% 16.14% 35.06% 56.49% 11.77% 68.26% 17.36% 85.62% 11.50% 97.11% 2.89%
2012 100% 18.60% 38.09% 58.95% 11.22% 70.17% 16.25% 86.42% 10.80% 97.22% 2.78%
2013 100% 18.48% 37.80% 58.55% 11.25% 69.80% 16.47% 86.27% 10.94% 97.22% 2.78%
2014 100% 19.85% 39.48% 59.97% 10.91% 70.88% 15.90% 86.78% 10.47% 97.25% 2.75%
Year Total Top 1% Top 5% Top 10% Top 25% Top 50%
Table 7. Dollar Cut-Off, 1980–2014 (Minimum AGI for Tax Returns to Fall into Various Percentiles; Thresholds Not Adjusted for Inflation)
1980   $80,580 $43,792 $35,070 $23,606 $12,936
1981   $85,428 $47,845 $38,283 $25,655 $14,000
1982   $89,388 $49,284 $39,676 $27,027 $14,539
1983   $93,512 $51,553 $41,222 $27,827 $15,044
1984   $100,889 $55,423 $43,956 $29,360 $15,998
1985   $108,134 $58,883 $46,322 $30,928 $16,688
1986   $118,818 $62,377 $48,656 $32,242 $17,302
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987   $139,289 $68,414 $52,921 $33,983 $17,768
1988   $157,136 $72,735 $55,437 $35,398 $18,367
1989   $163,869 $76,933 $58,263 $36,839 $18,993
1990   $167,421 $79,064 $60,287 $38,080 $19,767
1991   $170,139 $81,720 $61,944 $38,929 $20,097
1992   $181,904 $85,103 $64,457 $40,378 $20,803
1993   $185,715 $87,386 $66,077 $41,210 $21,179
1994   $195,726 $91,226 $68,753 $42,742 $21,802
1995   $209,406 $96,221 $72,094 $44,207 $22,344
1996   $227,546 $101,141 $74,986 $45,757 $23,174
1997   $250,736 $108,048 $79,212 $48,173 $24,393
1998   $269,496 $114,729 $83,220 $50,607 $25,491
1999   $293,415 $120,846 $87,682 $52,965 $26,415
2000   $313,469 $128,336 $92,144 $55,225 $27,682
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 $1,393,718 $306,635 $132,082 $96,151 $59,026 $31,418
2002 $1,245,352 $296,194 $130,750 $95,699 $59,066 $31,299
2003 $1,317,088 $305,939 $133,741 $97,470 $59,896 $31,447
2004 $1,617,918 $339,993 $140,758 $101,838 $62,794 $32,622
2005 $1,938,175 $379,261 $149,216 $106,864 $64,821 $33,484
2006 $2,124,625 $402,603 $157,390 $112,016 $67,291 $34,417
2007 $2,251,017 $426,439 $164,883 $116,396 $69,559 $35,541
2008 $1,867,652 $392,513 $163,512 $116,813 $69,813 $35,340
2009 $1,469,393 $351,968 $157,342 $114,181 $68,216 $34,156
2010 $1,634,386 $369,691 $161,579 $116,623 $69,126 $34,338
2011 $1,717,675 $388,905 $167,728 $120,136 $70,492 $34,823
2012 $2,161,175 $434,682 $175,817 $125,195 $73,354 $36,055
2013 $1,860,848 $428,713 $179,760 $127,695 $74,955 $36,841
2014 $2,136,762 $465,626 $188,996 $133,445 $77,714 $38,173
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
Year Total Top 0.1% Top 1% Top 5% Between 5% & 10% Top 10% Between 10% & 25% Top 25% Between 25% & 50% Top 50% Bottom 50%
Table 8. Average Tax Rate, 1980–2014 (Percent of AGI Paid in Income Taxes)
Source: Internal Revenue Service.
1980 15.31%   34.47% 26.85% 17.13% 23.49% 14.80% 19.72% 11.91% 17.29% 6.10%
1981 15.76%   33.37% 26.59% 18.16% 23.64% 15.53% 20.11% 12.48% 17.73% 6.62%
1982 14.72%   31.43% 25.05% 16.61% 22.17% 14.35% 18.79% 11.63% 16.57% 6.10%
1983 13.79%   30.18% 23.64% 15.54% 20.91% 13.20% 17.62% 10.76% 15.52% 5.66%
1984 13.68%   29.92% 23.42% 15.57% 20.81% 12.90% 17.47% 10.48% 15.35% 5.77%
1985 13.73%   29.86% 23.50% 15.69% 20.93% 12.83% 17.55% 10.41% 15.41% 5.70%
1986 14.54%   33.13% 25.68% 15.99% 22.64% 12.97% 18.72% 10.48% 16.32% 5.63%
The Tax Reform Act of 1986 changed the definition of AGI, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
1987 13.12%   26.41% 22.10% 14.43% 19.77% 11.71% 16.61% 9.45% 14.60% 5.09%
1988 13.21%   24.04% 21.14% 14.07% 19.18% 11.82% 16.47% 9.60% 14.64% 5.06%
1989 13.12%   23.34% 20.71% 13.93% 18.77% 12.08% 16.27% 9.77% 14.53% 5.11%
1990 12.95%   23.25% 20.46% 13.63% 18.50% 12.01% 16.06% 9.73% 14.36% 5.01%
1991 12.75%   24.37% 20.62% 13.96% 18.63% 11.57% 15.93% 9.55% 14.20% 4.62%
1992 12.94%   25.05% 21.19% 13.99% 19.13% 11.39% 16.25% 9.42% 14.44% 4.39%
1993 13.32%   28.01% 22.71% 14.01% 20.20% 11.40% 16.90% 9.37% 14.90% 4.29%
1994 13.50%   28.23% 23.04% 14.20% 20.48% 11.57% 17.15% 9.42% 15.11% 4.32%
1995 13.86%   28.73% 23.53% 14.46% 20.97% 11.71% 17.58% 9.43% 15.47% 4.39%
1996 14.34%   28.87% 24.07% 14.74% 21.55% 11.86% 18.12% 9.53% 15.96% 4.40%
1997 14.48%   27.64% 23.62% 14.87% 21.36% 12.04% 18.18% 9.63% 16.09% 4.48%
1998 14.42%   27.12% 23.63% 14.79% 21.42% 11.63% 18.16% 9.12% 16.00% 4.44%
1999 14.85%   27.53% 24.18% 15.06% 21.98% 11.76% 18.66% 9.12% 16.43% 4.48%
2000 15.26%   27.45% 24.42% 15.48% 22.34% 12.04% 19.09% 9.28% 16.86% 4.60%
The IRS changed methodology, so data above and below this line not strictly comparable
2001 14.47% 28.17% 27.60% 23.91% 15.20% 21.68% 11.87% 18.35% 9.20% 16.08% 4.92%
2002 13.28% 28.48% 27.37% 23.17% 14.15% 20.76% 10.70% 17.23% 8.00% 14.87% 3.86%
2003 12.11% 24.60% 24.38% 20.92% 12.46% 18.70% 9.69% 15.57% 7.41% 13.53% 3.49%
2004 12.31% 23.06% 23.52% 20.83% 12.53% 18.80% 9.41% 15.71% 7.27% 13.68% 3.53%
2005 12.65% 22.48% 23.15% 20.93% 12.61% 19.03% 9.45% 16.04% 7.18% 14.01% 3.51%
2006 12.80% 21.94% 22.80% 20.80% 12.84% 19.02% 9.52% 16.12% 7.22% 14.12% 3.51%
2007 12.90% 21.42% 22.46% 20.66% 12.92% 18.96% 9.61% 16.16% 7.27% 14.19% 3.56%
2008 12.54% 22.67% 23.29% 20.83% 12.66% 18.87% 9.45% 15.85% 6.97% 13.79% 3.26%
2009 11.39% 24.28% 24.05% 20.59% 11.53% 18.19% 8.36% 14.81% 5.76% 12.61% 2.35%
2010 11.81% 22.84% 23.39% 20.64% 11.98% 18.46% 8.70% 15.22% 6.01% 13.06% 2.37%
2011 12.54% 22.82% 23.50% 20.89% 12.83% 18.85% 9.70% 15.82% 6.98% 13.76% 3.13%
2012 13.11% 21.67% 22.83% 20.97% 13.33% 19.21% 9.96% 16.35% 7.21% 14.33% 3.28%
2013 13.64% 27.91% 27.08% 23.20% 13.40% 20.75% 10.11% 17.28% 7.31% 14.98% 3.30%
2014 14.16% 27.67% 27.16% 23.61% 13.73% 21.25% 10.37% 17.83% 7.48% 15.52% 3.45%
  1. For data prior to 2001, all tax returns that have a positive AGI are included, even those that do not have a positive income tax liability. For data from 2001 forward, returns with negative AGI are also included, but dependent returns are excluded.
  2. Income tax after credits (the measure of “income taxes paid” above) does not account for the refundable portion of EITC. If it were included, the tax share of the top income groups would be higher. The refundable portion is classified as a spending program by the Office of Management and Budget and therefore is not included by the IRS in these figures.
  3. The only tax analyzed here is the federal individual income tax, which is responsible for more than 25 percent of the nation’s taxes paid (at all levels of government). Federal income taxes are much more progressive than federal payroll taxes, which are responsible for about 20 percent of all taxes paid (at all levels of government), and are more progressive than most state and local taxes.
  4. AGI is a fairly narrow income concept and does not include income items like government transfers (except for the portion of Social Security benefits that is taxed), the value of employer-provided health insurance, underreported or unreported income (most notably that of sole proprietors), income derived from municipal bond interest, net imputed rental income, and others.
  5. The unit of analysis here is that of the tax return. In the figures prior to 2001, some dependent returns are included. Under other units of analysis (like the Treasury Department’s Family Economic Unit), these returns would likely be paired with parents’ returns.
  6. These figures represent the legal incidence of the income tax. Most distributional tables (such as those from CBO, Tax Policy Center, Citizens for Tax Justice, the Treasury Department, and JCT) assume that the entire economic incidence of personal income taxes falls on the income earner.

[1] Individual Income Tax Rates and Tax Shares, Internal Revenue Service Statistics of Income, http://www.irs.gov/uac/SOI-Tax-Stats-Individual-Income-Tax-Rates-and-Tax-Shares.

[2] See Congressional Budget Office, The Budget and Economic Outlook: 2017 to 2027, Jan. 2017, https://www.cbo.gov/sites/default/files/115th-congress-2017-2018/reports/52370-outlook.pdf.

[3] There is strong reason to believe that capital gains realizations were unusually depressed in 2013, due to the increase in the top capital gains tax rate from 15 percent to 23.8 percent. In 2013, capital gains accounted for 26.6 percent of the income of taxpayers with over $1 million in AGI received, compared to 31.7 percent in 2014 (these calculations apply for net capital gains reported on Schedule D). Table 1.4, Publication 1304, “Individual Income Tax Returns 2014,” Internal Revenue Service, https://www.irs.gov/uac/soi-tax-stats-individual-income-tax-returns-publication-1304-complete-report.

[4] Here, “average income tax rate” is defined as income taxes paid divided by adjusted gross income.


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