What America's Richest 400 Pay in Taxes


The adjusted gross income of the wealthiest 400 taxpayers jumped 277 percent in real terms between 1992 and 2008, nearly four times the increase for everyone else. Over that same period, the effective tax rate on the richest 400 taxpayers (note: not necessarily the same people year-to-year) fell from 30 percent in 1995 to the 18 percent rate in 2008. Bob Williams of the Tax Policy Center graphs and writes:

Check out the sharp drop in their effective tax rate over the past 15 years--down from 30 percent in 1995 to the 18 percent rate in 2008. Compare that with the 24 percent rate paid in 2008 by people with income between $500,000 and $1 million. The rest of us also saw our tax rate drop from a peak of 15.4 percent to 12.4 percent in 2008. But that doesn't take into account that AGI of the top 400 jumped 277 percent in real terms between 1992 and 2008, compared to a 77 percent increase for everyone else. Adding insult to injury, with so little earnings and so much investment income, the very rich pay a relative pittance in payroll taxes compared to the rest of us.

Read the full story at TaxVox.

Jump to comments
Presented by

Derek Thompson is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about economics, labor markets, and the entertainment business.

Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

Why Are Americans So Bad at Saving Money?

The U.S. is particularly miserable at putting aside money for the future. Should we blame our paychecks or our psychology?

Elsewhere on the web

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register. blog comments powered by Disqus


The Death of Film

You'll never hear the whirring sound of a projector again.


How to Hunt With Poison Darts

A Borneo hunter explains one of his tribe's oldest customs: the art of the blowpipe


A Delightful, Pixar-Inspired Cartoon

An action figure and his reluctant sidekick trek across a kitchen in search of treasure.


I Am an Undocumented Immigrant

"I look like a typical young American."


Why Did I Study Physics?

Using hand-drawn cartoons to explain an academic passion



More in Business

Just In