Skip to comments.US Federal Individual Income Taxes by Income Level 2001-2009
Posted on 07/05/2012 8:10:52 PM PDT by justlurking
Since the "soak the rich" rhetoric has begun again, I though it was a good time to make sure that everyone knows exactly how adjusted gross income and federal individual income taxes are distributed among the various income brackets.
I hope the moderators will indulge me and leave this in front-page news. I encourage everyone to bookmark this thread or the original source of data, so that you can refer to it when someone claims that the rich aren't paying their fair share.
First, let's start with the source of the data:
That's an Excel workbook. If you don't have Excel or don't want to risk opening it, you can find a PDF at:
Click on the page image to open the PDF in Adobe Acrobat Reader, if you have it installed.
This is data compiled by the IRS from tax returns, over nine years from 2001 through 2009. The dollar amounts have been adjusted for inflation, so they are constant dollars from year to year, in 1984 dollars. The baseline year is really important to remember below.
Before we start comparing people in income categories, let's first define exactly what those are. Each line defines the minimum adjusted gross income (AGI on your tax return) for the category:
The top 1% line makes it difficult to see exactly what the values are for the remaining categories. And, as noted above, it is in 1984 dollars. So, to determine where you lie on the graph, here's what they were in 2009, in 2009 dollars:
How do you read this table? Get your adjusted gross income from your 2009 tax return, and find the largest amount in the right column that is less than or equal to your AGI. The left column tells you your income category. For example, if your AGI was $100,000 -- it's less than $160,311, but more than $72,082. So you were in the top 5% in 2009. BTW, if you are in the top 5%, but not in the top 1%, you'll find more thresholds at 4%, 3%, and 2% in the original data.
OK, now you know what income category you are in. But, let's go back and look at that graph above. Do you notice that most of the income lines are nearly straight? In fact, most of them rise slightly until 2007, then fall back slightly in 2008 and 2009. However, what happened to the top 1%? There is a huge drop from 2007 to 2009. It's actually back to what it was in 2003 -- a nearly 40% drop. I'll leave it as an exercise to the reader to figure out why.
Next, let's look at the average tax rate:
This is not the top tax rate. This is the actual average federal individual income tax rate that was paid by households in the income category, calculated by dividing the total individual income taxes paid by the total adjusted gross income.
This does NOT include Social Security taxes, Medicare taxes, corporate income taxes, excise taxes, sales taxes, state and local income taxes, property taxes, etc, etc. The depicted rate only includes US federal individual income taxes. But, since these are the rates that were lowered in 2003, this is what we should examine to determine whether those rates are "unfair". And it's clear that the higher your income category, the higher your tax rate -- and it has always been that way, at least for the top 1% and below.
An aside: The Congressional Budget Office has compiled all federal taxes paid by the various income levels, from 1979-2007. You can find more information here: US Federal Taxes by Income Level 1979-2007. However, the CBO has not updated this data since then.
What do you see in the average income tax rates? All of them went down in 2003. But, they have stayed more or less the same until 2007. Since then, the average tax rates for the top 1% (and top 0.1%) have gone up, while everyone else has gone down. I'm not quite sure why this occurred. I'll speculate that the top 1% shifted from long-term capital gains to short-term gains, which boosted their tax rate. Everyone else's AGI went down, lowering their top marginal rate and therefore their average rate. But, I'm interested in any other explanations.
However, none of this really explains how much of the overall federal individual income tax burden is paid by the different income groups. So, let's get to it:
Look at that graph carefully. the first thing you should notice is that the bottom 50% (the gray at the bottom) pay only 2.25% of US federal individual income taxes in 2009. And that is down from 3.97% in 2001.
The top 0.1% paid 17.11% of US federal individual income taxes in 2009. The top 1% (which includes the top 0.1%) paid 36.73%: over two-thirds of all US federal individual income taxes. And their share of the burden was increasing from 2003 through 2007, despite the 2003 tax cut. Why would anyone think they aren't paying their fair share?
Let me put on an Occutard hat quickly: "B-b-but they have all the income!!!". Disgusted by the smell, I pull off the hat and throw it as far away as possible, and make a note to wash my hair later and delouse it.
Yes, the top 1% earns a significant percentage of the income. Here's the actual distribution of adjusted gross income:
Can you see how the two compare? The distribution of taxes is definitely biased toward higher incomes (which should be obvious from the tax rates.
Still can't see it? Let's put the two of them right next to each other. You may need to maximize your browser screen.
To reiterate, the top 1% pays 36.73% of all US federal individual income taxes. But, they only earn 16.93% of all adjusted gross income. The top 1% are already paying a higher burden than 99% -- which pays 63.27% of all US federal individual income taxes, but earns 83.07% of all adjusted gross income.
Repealing the 2003 tax cuts will only shift the burden further onto the top 1%. If that's what you want, then be honest about it... but don't pretend that it's "fair".
You can go to the source, which is linked at the top of the article. Or, you can just print this webpage and generate a PDF.
If you don't already have that capability, here's a printer driver that creates PDFs:
Once installed, you'll have a new printer device. When you print to it from any application, it prompts you for a filename to save the PDF.
There are undoubtedly a number of people across all income levels that game the system to pay less income taxes than they are obligated to pay.
But, the data shows that as a group, the "rich" (however you define it) is paying a significant percentage of the US federal income taxes. There's no evidence they aren't paying their "fair share", even after the 2003 tax cuts.
Sorry. I'll correct that by simply ignoring you entirely.
So these graphs show how much the government steals from you its slaves.
Well, it’s apparently the direct federal portion anyway. Doesn’t include state and local taxes, sales taxes, or social security. It also doesn’t include the money you end up paying as a portion of the products you buy that are directly related to federal rules, policies, procedures or guidelines. When you add it all together, it’s amazing we have any money left at all.
I think this is why we make a tad more money than we used to back in the 90’s, but we just have less. I see hoochy-mamas in the stores dressed FAR better than I, wearing the designer bags and the expensive heels ... and I’m dressed in clothes from 20 seasons ago. After dealing with the high cost of a mortgage, college tuition (for which WE get no breaks), and then taxes, we have very little left over for discretionary spending — compared to THOSE who pay NO taxes.
We’re truly becoming tax slaves, in every sense of the word.
I did a quick look for articles that cited this data, and it's spread all over last year. So, I'm not sure exactly when the new data was released.
On the IRS website, the Excel workbook that was used to generate this graph was last modified on 2011-10-03. But, it doesn't have that particular detail.
You apparently have an odd definition of “failed”. It has clearly not failed since it raises enormous revenues for the government year in and year out. How is it a failure of the tax scheme that the Congress spends money even faster than the tax brings in? It is precisely because it has NOT failed that so many object to it, particularly the inability to escape the taxing authorities.
Ideology and rhetoric aside there is no real alternative to an income tax if any significant military actions are contemplated. Military spending simply overwhelm any other form of taxation.
Given that this nation has become more of a democracy than a republic and that the poor/dissatisfied are always more numerous than the wealthy/satisfied the bias of the electorate is towards socialism. Add the emancipation of women into the equation and that bias becomes very difficult to counter. Our government has evolved from the Founders’ view as a result of what our People have wanted. While it may be realizing that it is NOT want it wanted any change will take decades.
There is a 35% sink of ignorance, apathy and evil which remains committed to this nation going on the wrong path. This is where the class warfare is most popular and effective. But it has been there in national politics since Jefferson declared war on the “banks”. It has been a force in every election since 1800.
And for completeness, there's one for all federal taxes (Social Security, Medicare, excise, corporate income, individual income):