In a previous post, “Income Distribution: Rich & Richer,” I talked about some income breakdowns for those at the top of the income scale up to the top 0.01% of households.  Now comes this report from the I.R.S.: The 400 Individual Income Tax Returns Reporting the Highest Adjusted Gross Incomes Each Year, 1992-2006 [pdf]. There is a significant amount on information in the tables that are provided, but here are a few key points regarding the top 400 individual tax returns (out of 138,394,754 total returns in the population in 2006):

  • Minimum income to be included in 1992: $24, 421,000
  • Minimum income to be included in 2006: $110,602,000
  • Average adjusted gross income (AGI) in 1992: $46,790,000
  • Average adjusted gross income  (AGI) in 2006: $263,306,000
  • Average taxable income in 2006: $222,451,000
  • Percent of total adjusted gross income in 1992: 0.52
  • Percent of total adjusted gross income in 2006: 1.31
  • Average AGI from salaries and wages in 2006: $23,371,000
  • Average AGI from taxable interest in 2006: $20,419,000
  • Average AGI from dividends in 2006: $19,737,000
  • Average AGI from net capital gains less loss in 2006: $165,236,000
  • Average income tax rate in 1992: 26.38
  • Average income tax rate in 2006: 17.17

The study also reports on the degree to which the top 400 stay the same or change from year to year. They found a significant amount of change, reporting that:

Over the 15 tax years a total of 6,000 returns were identified for the table. There were 3,305 different taxpayers representing the top 400 returns of each year. Of these taxpayers, a little more than 27 percent appear more than once and slightly more than 15 percent appear more than twice. In any given year, on average, about 40 percent of the returns were filed by taxpayers that are not in any of the other 14 years. In each year, 8 (or 2.0 percent) of the returns are for taxpayers who can be found in all 15 years. Thus, the data shown in the table mostly represent a changing group of taxpayers over time, rather than a fixed group of taxpayers.

Another way of looking at it shows that, of the total of 6,000 returns included from 1992-2006, 2,394 appeared only one of those years (39.9% of the total number of returns) . The New York Times has a report up on these results: A Rich Income in ’06 Was $263 Million. National Public Radio also reports here: In ’06, Rich Earned More, Paid Less Tax. Bloomberg includes this report: Richest Americans’ Income Doubled as Tax Rate Slashed.

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