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The Official Blog of National Taxpayers Union

Who Pays Income Taxes

Posted by Jeff Dircksen - July 21, 2008

Have you been wondering whether the richest taxpayers in America paid their fair share of income taxes in 2006? Well, you're in luck. The IRS has released data showing that the percentage of income taxes paid by the top 1% of filers increased slightly for tax year 2006. As the table below shows, the top 10% of filers paid nearly 71% of all income taxes paid. The share paid by the bottom 50% drop from 3.07% in 2005 to 2.99% in 2006. You can see previous years here. You can also see "who doesn't pay taxes" here.

For Tax Year 2006

Percentiles Ranked by AGI

AGI Threshold on Percentiles

Percentage of Federal Personal Income Tax Paid

Top 1%



Top 5%



Top 10%



Top 25%



Top 50%



Bottom 50%



Note: AGI is Adjusted Gross Income
Source: Internal Revenue Service

Thoughts?   Add Comment -

JY said on Jul 22 2008 at 9:59am
If you added columns for percentage of tax paid for soc security, sales tax, various gov't fees, and voluntary contributions to gov't (e.g. lottery tickets), you would find the bottom 50% pays a lot of their income to the gov't.

dsimon said on Aug 20 2008 at 9:07pm
One reason that the top 10% pay 71% of the nation's income taxes is because they make a lot more money than everyone else. That's why they're in the top 10%, right? Add in some progressivity to the income tax code (which is pretty much agreed upon, since just about no one thinks it's fair to ask people who are barely scraping by to pay income taxe) and it's not hard to get up to 71%.

And as the prior comment notes, this data doesn't include all the other taxes paid by lower income earners. Most people pay more in wage taxes than they pay in income taxes (and the wealthy pay a lower percentage of their income in wage taxes than the poor do, since wages subject to the tax are capped at about $100,000). So overall, the tax system is flatter than the income tax numbers alone would indicate.

ronb said on Oct 21 2008 at 11:27am
JY- since when have lottery ticket purchases been included in tax calculations? I guess I'm supposed to pay more taxes to subsidize idiots who throw their money away gambling?

dsimon - I've seen the stats. The top 1% or 5% of income earners earn nothing close to 40% or 60% of the nations income. The system is steeply progressive

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Daniel said on Sep 13 2009 at 10:41pm
If Obama keeps preaching about equality of people, especially equality of race, why doesnt he support equality in every venture? Because he would lose votes from the poorer poeple and lose his power. If someone is forced to pay near 40% in federal tax alone, and a poorer person is recieving monetary support for lack of motivation to succeed in life, why should their votes carry the same weight? Because their equal? The government obviously disagrees with that