The Tax Foundation has released a summary of who really pays federal income taxes. According to the Tax Foundation:
The Internal Revenue Service has released new data on individual income taxes, reporting on calendar year 2011. The IRS data continues to reflect the fact that half of all taxpayers pay nearly all income taxes. However, the improving economy resulted in a spreading of the tax burden as the number of filers increased along with incomes and taxes paid for all income groups except the top 0.1 percent. The higher incomes pushed taxpayers into higher brackets, resulting in an increase in average income tax rates for all income groups except the top 0.1 percent, whose effective rate remained about the same as in 2010. The income shares of the top 1 and 2 percentiles fell in 2011, as did their shares of taxes paid.
The Top 50 Percent of All Taxpayers Paid 97 Percent of All Income Taxes; the Top 5 Percent Paid 57 Percent of All Income Taxes; and the Top 1 Percent Paid 35 Percent of All Income Taxes in 2011
Table 1 breaks down the latest IRS data on number of returns, adjusted gross income, income taxes paid, and average tax rate by income group. In 2011, the bottom 50 percent of taxpayers (those with Adjusted Gross Incomes (AGI) below $34,823) accounted for 11.55 percent of total AGI. This group of taxpayers paid approximately $30 billion in taxes, or 2.89 percent of all income taxes in 2011. In contrast, the top 50 percent of taxpayers (those with AGIs above $34,823) accounted for 88.5 percent of total AGI. The top 50 percent of taxpayers paid $1.01 trillion in income taxes, or 97.1 percent of all income taxes in 2011.
In 2011, the top 10 percent of taxpayers (with AGIs above $120,000) accounted for 45.4 percent of all AGI and 68.3 percent of all income taxes paid. Taxpayers in the top 5 percent accounted for 33.9 percent of all AGI and 56.5 percent of all income taxes paid. The top 1 percent of all taxpayers accounted for 18.7 percent of all AGI and 35.1 percent of all income taxes paid.
Economy Improved, Pushing Incomes and Taxes Paid for all Income Groups Higher, Except for Those in the Top 0.1 Percent
The improving economy added about 1.6 million new filers, from 135 million in 2010 to 136.6 million in 2011. This alone tended to spread the tax burden, as many of these new filers also paid taxes. As well, incomes and taxes paid increased for all income groups except those in the top 0.1 percent (taxpayers making $1,717,675 or more). (See Tables 3 and 4.) Income increased only slightly for the top 1 percent and remains below the levels seen in 2005 through 2008. Likewise, taxes paid for the top 1 percent remains significantly lower than the peak year of 2007. As a result, the income and tax shares for the top percentiles, including the top 1 and 2 percent, fell in 2011.
Average Tax Rate Increased for All Groups and Remained Essentially Flat for the Top 0.1 Percent
Higher AGIs pushed taxpayers into higher tax brackets, resulting in higher average income tax rates for most income groups (Table 8). The average tax rate for the bottom 50 percent of taxpayer increased from 2.37 percent in 2010 to 3.13 percent in 2011, but still remains lower than the average of 3.4 percent since 2001. This increase in tax rate is likely due to the expiration of the Making Work Pay tax credit. The top 50 percent’s average income tax rate increased from 13.05 percent to 13.76 percent.
The average tax rate for taxpayers in the top 1 percent also increased from 23.4 percent to 23.5 percent—the highest average tax rate of any income group. However, the average tax rate for the top 0.1 percent remained essentially flat, changing from 22.84 in 2010 to 22.82 percent in 2011.
For all taxpayers, the average tax rate increased from 11.81 percent to 12.54 percent.
To view the all data upon which this column is written go here.