The Top 1 percent

Recently, the top one percent, those individuals with the highest incomes, and their fair share of the tax burden has been the subject to much debate. Just who are the top one percent and what is their current share of the tax bill.

Tax Stats, the public data site of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) sheds some light on the debate. Tax Stats reports that in 2009, individual returns reporting taxable incomes over $500,000 accounted for a little less than 1 percent (0.8%) of all tax returns, but 18 percent of all taxable income.

Question: What percentage of the $953 billion in individual income taxes in 2009 was attributable to returns with taxable incomes over $500,000?

A. 12 percent
B. 18 percent
C. 28 percent
D. 39 percent


C. 28 percent

28 percent of the $953 billion in personal income taxes collected in 2009 is attributable to taxpayers with taxable incomes over $500,000.

For comparison, 55 percent of all returns had taxable incomes less $50,000 and accounted for a little less than 10 percent of total federal personal income taxes while 83 percent of returns had taxable incomes less than $100,000 and generated 31 percent of all federal personal income taxes.

Source: Table 3.5 Internal Revenue Service Tax Stats
For questions, contact Bill Pinkovitz